Armenian communities in Berdzor to be ceded to Azerbaijan

Sign along the Lachin corridor welcoming travelers to Aghavno (Photo: Flickr/Gert-Jan Peddemors)

The town of Berdzor and several nearby villages inhabited by Armenians will be ceded to Azerbaijan following the construction of a new route connecting Armenia and Artsakh, according to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. 

Pashinyan confirmed during a three-and-a-half hour online press briefing on June 27 that several villages and towns in the Berdzor district “will pass to Azerbaijan’s control.”

The Berdzor district was ceded to Azerbaijan after the 2020 Artsakh War, except for the Lachin corridor, which was protected by the November 9 ceasefire agreement as the sole route connecting Armenia and Artsakh. Under the terms of the ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to construct an alternate route to the Lachin corridor within the following three years, to which Russian peacekeepers would be redeployed. 

The new route will bypass the Armenian communities that currently lie along the Lachin corridor, which will be ceded to Azerbaijan. The communities include the villages Aghavno, Nerkin Sus and Sus, as well as the town of Berdzor. 

Pashinyan said that the change in route would “ensure a more reliable and quality connection for Armenia.” Problems arising from the handover of villages “will be solved with the help of the Artsakh government.” 

The new route will start in the Armenian village Kornidzor in Syunik, pass through the villages Hin Shen and Mets Shen in the Shushi district and reach Stepanakert. Construction of the portion of the road passing through Azerbaijani-controlled territory has been underway. The head of Azerbaijan’s state road agency said earlier this year that he expects the route to be ready by July. In contrast, construction on the part of the road that runs through Armenia has not commenced. 

Aghavno came under Armenian control during the first Artsakh War. The village was rebuilt largely through funding from humanitarian organizations in the diaspora. 

After Azerbaijan took control of the Lachin corridor in December 2020, the residents of communities like Aghavno were ordered to leave, yet many chose to stay. Of the 270 people who lived in Aghavno before the war, 185 have returned, according to Eurasianet

The mayor of Aghavno Andranik Chavushyan told Eurasianet that living in the village raises “constant obstacles.”

“We never had gas, so we use gas cylinders. We had power outages, so we brought generators. Water shortages? Fortunately, we have a river in the village. We believed in ourselves, not in the government, and refused to leave the village. We are living here today because we relied on ourselves,” Chavushyan said. 

“We are responsible for our future generation. We defended ourselves in the 90s, we did it in 2020, and we are ready to fight again. We only need will and faith in ourselves,” the mayor continued. 

During the question-and-answer session on Monday, Pashinyan also said that Azerbaijan is “trying to build up legitimacy for a new war against Armenia and Artsakh” by creating the impression that Armenia impedes progress on negotiations on border demarcation and a peace treaty. 

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan answers questions from the press (RA Prime Minister’s Office, June 27)

“Whether they plan the new war in three months, three years or 30 years is a different issue,” Pashinyan said. 

On the contrary, he said that Azerbaijan obstructs negotiations and hopes to continue the decades-long blockade of Armenia. 

He accused Azerbaijan of canceling a meeting scheduled for Monday in Brussels between Armenian Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan and foreign policy advisor to Azerbaijan’s president Hikmet Hajiyev. He also accused Azerbaijan of turning down a proposal to organize a face-to-face meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers.

Nonetheless, Pashinyan was insistent that Armenia must remain committed to a peace agenda.

“There is no alternative to the peace agenda, but it cannot be one-sided. Rather, there must be two-sided, constructive movement. We have done everything and do everything in our power to open an era of peaceful development in our region. The alternative to that is a new war,” Pashinyan said. 

Pashinyan also commented on ongoing negotiations to normalize relations with Turkey, stating that Armenia sees the opportunity to “move forward in small steps” toward this goal. 

“Turkey’s references to the ‘Zangezur corridor’ create a negative tone and are not helpful for the process, but that does not mean that we will halt dialogue,” he said. 

Most local media outlets boycotted the press conference in protest of its online format.

Pashinyan’s last three press conferences since November 2021 have been hosted online, with media outlets given the opportunity to submit questions in advance. The prime minister’s office has defended the ongoing use of the format, citing coronavirus precautions.

A group of 27 editors of primarily pro-opposition or opposition-leaning media outlets released a statement announcing their decision to boycott the press briefing. The outlets, including ARF-owned Yerkir Media, NEWS.am, Panorama.am and Aravot Daily, called on Pashinyan to return to an in-person format.

“The previous experience has proved that such ‘online contacts’ take place in a pre-planned scenario. Only the questions by the pro-government media, Telegram channels and bloggers are publicized during these events, who, apparently, agree in advance with the organizers of the event, and in the case of the questions by other media—they are either ignored, or edited, or distorted,” the statement reads

In a separate statement, eight media outlets, including Civilnet, RFE/RL, the Fact Investigation Platform and Aravot Daily, urged the prime minister to return to an in-person format, since virtually all other coronavirus-related restrictions have been lifted by the administration. 

“During these press conferences, the questions sent by the media are grouped and edited by the prime minister’s office, as a result of which often the content of the question is distorted or nuances of the question are lost. Sometimes some questions are not asked at all,” the statement reads. “Consequently the access of the public to proper information is effectively restricted.”

“We deem this form of interaction with the media by the country’s leader to be discriminatory, ineffective and in contradiction with the core principles of democracy, transparency and accountability,” the statement continues.

Editor’s Note: The headline of this news report and any references to the city of Lachin were modified on July 1 to reflect the proper Armenian name of the communities to be ceded to Azerbaijan. We regret this error in our reporting.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.
Lillian Avedian

@LillianAvedian

Graduate student @GloJo_NYU and @nyukevo. Staff writer @armenianweekly. Editorial intern @DAWN_Journal.
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17 Comments

  1. Եւ սա կը կոչուի հայ մարդու յայտարարութիւնշ աւելի եւս ՀՀ վարչապետի յայտարարութիւն։ Կը շնորհաւորեմ ձեզ հայ ժողովուրդ այսպիսի (չ)արչապետ մը ունենալու համար։ Վայելէց նաեւ վաղուան «Էրիվանը»։

  2. Pashinyan regime = fraud, just like all previous regimes and also just like our “ally” Decrepit Russia. In fact, this was all Russia’s plan for 30 years, Russia is on even footing with Azerbaijan and Turkey as enemies of Armenia and the Armenian people.

    When Artsakh won the war in 1994, it provided a terrible “inconvenience” for “Mother Russia” and its regional plans to exploit and STEAL Armenia’s natural resources along with the UK, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Thereafter, Armenian “leadership” just played along with “Armenian nationalism” while gate-keeping Russia’s plan to arm Azerbiajan so that they could use the military option to “convince” Armenians that they must give up rights to Artsakh. Meanwhile Armenia’s traitor “leaders” fattened up their pockets with Armenia’s poor economy and diaspora money in order to exit the scene at some future date when that war comes.

    Russia and Turkey had a baby, and they named it “Azerbaijan”.

    So in 1994, Russia the so-called “ally” forced Armenia to stop the war so that Azerbaijan, its loving child it conceived with Turkey, could be saved from “Armenian nationalism”. Speaking of nationalism, that is one thing that “Mother Russia” despises about all the nations it subjugates, especially Armenia. On Russia’s ridiculous lie channel they call “RT”, Putin’s traitor pet lapdog Margarita Simonyan takes regular pop shots at “nationalism” – a threat to “Mother Russia’s” imperialistic plans and THEFT from other nations. Let’s note that Turkish and Azeri “nationalism” is fully approved by Decrepit Russia because Russia itself is part creator of such turkic pseudo-nationalism, as they work in unison and Russia gets lots of perks from giving away Armenian rights and lands.

    So in 1994, our “ally” stopped the war to benefit its illegitimate child Azerbaijan, and in 2020, it did THE SAME EXACT THING, stopping the so-called “war” just in time, and hurryingly make Poodle Pashinyan sign away papers of “kapitulatzia” before anyone even knew what was going on. Armenians hadn’t even begun to fight. They conveniently used ridiculous excuses like “killer drones won the war”, ah yes, drones must win the war before winter approaches rendering them useless. Such bullshit only applies to Armenia of course, not normal nations.

    Russian leadership = vile. Armenian leadership = traitorous inept losers. That includes the “nakhkins”. That is the real reason for losing the war.

    • Finally, I read a normal explanation, good that few Armenians are waking up to the reality, russia was never Armenia’s ally.

    • You and people who think like you across the world are Armenia’s number one enemy. A mental illness that is cancerous really. Perhaps it has become impossible for us to exist as a nation. “Armenia’s” fate lies solely on the outcome of WW3 and the hopeful victory of Mother Russia over the west, NATO, and Turkey. Until then Nicky and team will wring all humanity and dignity dry and make sure the situation becomes as irreparable as possible. So far they’re doing an excellent job, they were voted in twice after all. He knows the people are LOVING this. You sound like you do!! Book a flight today and get to Yerevan tomorrow and bask in the glory of the west, a country that today is operating entirely out of step with Russia. I hear the service and christenings are excellent this time of year.

    • I don’t get it, you’re constantly spewing anti Russian hatred here. Are you proposing that Russia remove its soldiers from Artsakh and its base from Gyumri? How many hours of life do you think Armenia will have before elimination of statehood and another genocide?

      No country is an ally or friend. We just need to balance and align our interest with those of more powerful nations that share at least some of our interests, and in our case its Iran and Russia. Just because our politicians are inept it doesnt mean you should blame others for our failures.

      The $5billion dollars worth of weapons Nikol gifted to the Azeris during the war was given to us by Russia either free or at cost. Armenia could never have afforded that. And yes they were high quality weapons. If Armenia wanted to win the 44 day war they would have. Everyone knows that and no one could have stopped us, including Russia. However it was a prearranged war between Nikol and and the Azeris and Turks. Don’t blame others for our backwardness or the treachery of our leaders.

    • But the Armenian people voted him in TWICE, so what’s there to complain about?
      I’m being sarcastic but the truth is our people are not ready for a western style democracy. You can clearly see the results.

  3. For as long as the Armenian race continues to exist, generation after generation will defecate on your family grave, and spit on your turk descendants face wherever they may be seen. Neither you nor any of your bloodline will ever be able to walk with their head held high. I hope the $5B was worth it.

  4. Armenia is a weak and feeble country, it’s always letting other countries fight it’s battles for them, no matter how hard they try to fight for it’s territory, other countries have to step in and finish it for them and Armenia loses out, thanks to government corruption it’s seen as weak and feeble and Turkey and Azerbaijan always winning and laughing at them. That’s why Armenia gets no respect and it’s left alone not even Western nations lifted a finger to help out, let’s hope the Armenian people get out of there and fast and let the corrupt government bash themselves away.

    • Armenia is not a weak or a feeble country. Armenia has had weak and feeble leaders. We must make a distinction between the two. No matter how strong and united the Armenian nation is the country will suffer if it does not have the right leadership. Even though Armenia has been an independent state since 1991, unfortunately the Armenian leaders never conducted independent foreign policies that would have advanced the interests of the nation and moved the country in the right direction. Instead, they have always followed destructive Russian foreign policies that had primarily served the Russian interests and often times at Armenia’s expense. The root causes of Armenia’s problems are and have always been the many incompetent Armenian leaders who have conducted themselves as dependent and subservient to foreign leaderships. We need patriotic leaders whose first and foremost priority should not only be the security of the homeland and the advancement of the Armenian nation worldwide, but that also they have to be daring and wise enough to use the geopolitical importance of the country in the region to score points for the nation with leaders of powerful states in the region instead of acting as servants to their interests. They need to genuinely act as the guardians of the nation and take ownership of the country for the sake of the collective nation instead of misusing their power and treating the country as their personal property and do with it as they please. There has to be accountability. True leaders exist to conduct the will of the people and to serve the nation, not the other way around!

      The artificial Azerbaijan despite all its manpower and petrodollars has never been able to win any war against Armenia and they never can when and if the two are left alone to fight their own fights. They don’t have the military competency to do much. The last thirty years was a proof of that. If they have ever had any success, rest-assured terrorist Turkey had a hand in it. Opportunist Turkish terrorists, the only Muslim fake NATO member state in the world for the last seventy years, are experts in acting belligerent and use their NATO supplied weapons against tiny nations. But when it comes to an equal or much more powerful adversary they fold like a lawn chair. There had been so many serious incidents that would have caused terrorist Turkey and Russia go to war but that never happened because Turkey’s Islamo-fascist terrorist-in-chief and rabid barking dog Er-dog-an, realizing the destructive consequences of such actions to the country and to his reputation, would always visit his Russian KGB master, throw down his prayer rug, kneel down and ask for forgiveness behind closed doors!

      Spineless Western nations did not lift a finger to help Armenia because they were indirectly in on this war. They are heavily invested in the Caspian energy industry that pumps oil & gas into energy-hungry Europe through terrorist Turkey and they would never take pro-Armenian stance against their own self-interests. They are experts in double-talks and empty lip service.

    • You’re a Sick Puppy, Eagle!!! Your moral & ethical code is that of a gangster, a serial killer, a despot, a Hitler or a Stalin. Your moral compass points South, while the righteous read it correctly, pointing North. Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted, because of righteousness, for their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven.” But, you are here to pour salt into the wounds of martyrs; and, your reward fills you with hot air, while our suffering is when your evil words pass gas.

  5. Nikol gifting Armenian territory, as if its his to gift, to a fictitious Zionist banking funded and invented gas station nation called “Azerbaijan” is a death sentence. The ever incompetent loser traitor actually hates Artsakh. When Nikol himself was leading protest against the past thieves, he would refer to them as ‘Artsakh scumbags’ who BTW did run the country as their personal bank account and are equally guilty of treason, but he today, ironically, orders his loser goons to crush abuse and arrest all opposition protesting his own treasonous plans to sell out Artsakh because he is too stupid, incompetent and a born loser.. he is the scumbag. And the people that supposedly voted him in can rot too.

  6. history of Armenians are the history of defeat and subjugation itself. it started with Persian empire and continued with Romans, Arabs, soljains, ottomans, russain empire and the soviet union. an unbroken line of defeat and subjugation. does it look brave and dignified to you? then you don’t know what dignity and bravery is.

  7. For the past two hundred years Armenia has been able to live in a dangerous neighborhood like the south Caucasus only because of its ties to Russia. Armenians are not yet ready for full independence, and may not be ready for the foreseeable future. For the foreseeable future, Armenia’s independence from Russia will only translate into Armenia’s dependence on Turkey. If Russia for any reason pulls out of Armenia today, Armenia will disappear from the map tomorrow. For better or for worst, Armenia is wed to Russia. Russia in reality is a historic opportunity for Armenia. All genuine Armenian patriots understand this. Therefore, any Armenian that is anti-Russian is either mentally disturbed, utterly ignorant or simply on the payroll of Turks and Western powers. No other explanation…

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