Pashinyan Ready to Cede More Land to Azerbaijan

Pashinyan Ready to Cede More Land to Azerbaijan

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan indicated his willingness to acquiesce to Azerbaijan’s requests for Armenia to vacate four border villages.

During a press briefing, Pashinyan asserted, “There have never been villages with such names in the territory of Armenia… Neither during the Soviet era nor after.”

Azerbaijan reiterated its demands publicly following the recent round of talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding border delineation.

The villages in question, previously under Azerbaijani control during Soviet times and later occupied by Armenian forces in the early 1990s, are among eight border regions, mostly enclosed within Armenia. In exchange, Azerbaijan captured a larger Armenian enclave and significant agricultural lands from multiple Armenian border communities during the same period. Further territorial clashes in 2021 and 2022 resulted in Azerbaijan seizing additional Armenian territory.

Located within Armenia’s northern Tavush province bordering western Azerbaijan, these villages hold strategic importance as they sit along one of Armenia’s main highways to Georgia and the pipeline supplying Russian natural gas to Armenia via Georgia.

Pashinyan emphasized the need to reroute local segments of transport and energy infrastructure to avoid traversing areas beyond Armenia’s recognized territory, stating, “We need to ensure that these infrastructures pass through Armenia’s recognized territory to avoid issues.” He confirmed issuing relevant directives to Armenian government entities.

Previously, Pashinyan’s administration had tied potential territorial concessions to the liberation of approximately 240 square kilometers of Armenian territory held by Azerbaijani forces since the early 1990s and recent clashes.

However, in his recent statements, Pashinyan did not insist on this condition or request concessions from Azerbaijan in return for the withdrawal from the four villages.

Opposition representatives expressed concerns, viewing Pashinyan’s remarks as a signal of intentions to surrender the villages to Azerbaijan without securing any reciprocal gains. They warned that such actions could not only place vital Armenian infrastructure under Azerbaijani control but also isolate other Tavush villages and make the province more susceptible to Azerbaijani advancements.

Anna Grigorian of the Hayastan alliance remarked, “By unilaterally conceding, you not only fail to guarantee Azerbaijan’s non-aggression, but, conversely, provide them with advantageous positions for potential attacks.”

Tigran Abrahamian, a senior legislator from the opposition Pativ Unem bloc, suggested that even without agreeing to Azerbaijan’s territorial demands, Pashinyan’s statements could validate a potential Azerbaijani assault on Tavush’s border regions.

Pashinyan had previously ordered unilateral withdrawals of Armenian troops from contested areas in the southeastern Syunik province following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, this did not deter Azerbaijani forces from launching attacks on Syunik and gaining territorial footholds in 2021 and 2022.