At a meeting of the working group headed by Deputy Prime Ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia Alexey Overchuk, Shahin Mustafayev and Mher Grigoryan, the sides agreed on most issues, making significant progress toward an agreement.
Alexey Overchuk and Mher Grigoryan shared the results of the meeting with Sputnik Armenia. The Azerbaijani side chose not to comment.
The meeting of the trilateral working group took place after the talks between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held in Moscow on May 25 with the moderation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the course of these talks Ilham Aliyev said, in particular, that the perception of his Zangezur corridor project as Azerbaijan’s territorial claims against Armenia is a product of Yerevan’s “wild imagination”, while in reality it is only about a transport corridor.
Alexey Overchuk noted that the talks between the Deputy Prime Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Moscow lasted nine hours.
“In principle, the text of the agreement is in a high degree of readiness,” the Russian Deputy Prime Minister said. “There are two or three disagreements that need further discussion, in particular, regarding where the railroad will go. We have voiced this and agreed on how the customs control of goods will be carried out.”
Overchuk added that it would be a regular railroad, a regular border with passport, border and customs control. According to him, all parties are determined to “launch it as soon as possible”.
The subject of these discussions is the restoration of rail communication along the Yeraskh – Julfa – Meghri – Goradiz route, which will connect Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.
When asked whether the possibility of participation of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel in the security control plan stipulated in the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020 had been considered, Overchuk said that “this is up to Armenia.”
In his statement following the meeting, Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan said that the issue of customs control over the railroad between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan being exercised by international operators had not been discussed.
“We are still at the stage of discussions, so it would not be right to disclose details on this matter. But all the issues pertain to the details of the organization of the customs and border control process,” Grigoryan said.
Commenting on the clause of the trilateral agreement of November 10, 2020, according to which the control of transport communication between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan will be carried out by the border service agencies of the Federal Security Service of Russia, Grigoryan noted that this is an issue of the bilateral Armenian-Russian agenda.
“I do not think we should discuss it on the trilateral agenda. And what will happen and how is a separate issue,” Grigoryan said.
There have been no arrangements for a new meeting of the trilateral working group yet, but Grigoryan did not rule out that such a meeting could happen soon, as well as separate discussions with Alexey Overchuk.
You may recall that Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, recently said that security on the border with Azerbaijan would be carried out by Armenian border guards, thus confirming that Armenia does not intend to honor the commitments stipulated in the November 10 agreement.
“There is one important detail with regard to the unblocking, which I think is already clear to all the partners involved,” Grigoryan noted. “Full control over the borders and border services will be exercised by Armenia. That is, unblocking in the context of Armenia means that only Armenia will carry out border services.”
According to Grigoryan, Armenia’s position is very clear.
“I hope [Azerbaijan and Russia] have taken this into consideration and will move forward following this principle,” he said.