| 23 September 2023, Saturday |

Azerbaijan denies deal reached to reopen Karabakh-Armenia road

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s foreign policy advisor Hikmet Hajiev refuted claims on Saturday that Baku had achieved an agreement with the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh to concurrently reopen highways to both Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Hajiev said that Baku had offered to simultaneously restore the highways, but that Karabakh’s “illegal regime” had rejected the offer in a posting on platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Hajiev said that Azerbaijan would maintain “border and customs” control on the Lachin corridor, which links Karabakh to Armenia. He said that the road to Azerbaijan would open for aid shipments for the first time since 1988, a key demand of Baku’s.

Karabakh, which broke away from Baku after a war that spanned the collapse of the Soviet Union, is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but its 120,000 population is overwhelmingly ethnically Armenian.

Azerbaijani retook large amounts of ground in a 2020 war, leaving Karabakh almost entirely surrounded. In December 2022, Azerbaijani civilians began blockading the last road linking Karabakh to Armenia, causing acute shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

Armenian state news agency Armenpress reported on Saturday that Karabakh officials had bowed to Baku’s demands to reopen the long-closed road to Azerbaijan in return for lifting the blockade on the Lachin corridor.

Armenpress cited Karabakh officials as saying they had agreed to the deal in view of “severe humanitarian problems” in the region.

At the time, Hajiev confirmed to Reuters that the Karabakh authorities had agreed to allow aid shipments from Azerbaijan to enter the territory in return for reopening the road to Armenia.

  • Reuters