Armenia and Azerbaijan announced on Thursday May 16 that they had agreed on part of the delimitation of the common border, a subject of extreme tension for decades. These two Caucasian countries clashed in two wars for control of the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, then Baku launched an offensive in September 2023 which allowed it to regain control of this territory, chasing away the Armenian separatists who had run it for three decades.

At the end of March, the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinian, in search of a peace agreement, approved the restitution of border villages conquered by Armenia in the 1990s and since abandoned. This decision has angered residents of nearby areas, who fear that this demarcation process will isolate them and that some houses will end up under Azerbaijani control.

It led to a protest movement across Armenia led by an archbishop, Bagrat Galstanian, who demanded the resignation of Mr. Pashinian. In separate statements on Thursday, the foreign ministries of the two countries said they had achieved “adjustment of coordinates” at part of the disputed border, based on Soviet-era maps.

The issue of roads to Georgia

According to this plan, four border villages, today in the hands of Armenia, must come under the control of Azerbaijan. Mr. Pashinian, a supporter of an agreement with Azerbaijan, welcomed “a very important milestone for the strengthening of Armenia’s sovereignty and independence.” “For the first time since independence [from the Soviet Union in 1991], our republic has an officially demarcated border,” he said. This takes our security and stability to a higher level. »

The territory that Armenia agreed to hand back is of strategic importance for this landlocked country, because it controls sections of an important route to neighboring Georgia. Pashinian said Thursday that Armenia would build new roads in the region over the coming months and that border guards from both countries would be deployed along the redrawn border “in the next ten days.”