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Armenian Government Starts Land Transfer to Azerbaijan in Tavush Despite Resident’s Protest

Updated: Apr 25


Armenian Government Starts Land Transfer to Azerbaijan in Tavush Despite Resident’s Protest

The Armenian government began the transfer of border areas to Azerbaijan on Tuesday, igniting ongoing protests from residents in neighboring communities within Armenia's Tavush province, who are deeply concerned about their security.


In a late afternoon statement, the government announced the installation of the first border post near Baghanis, one of the four Tavush villages set to be significantly impacted by Yerevan's territorial concessions to Baku. This move follows geodetic measurements at the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.


Earlier in the day, the Armenian military initiated demining operations in the area designated for Azerbaijani control. Road police closed a nearby section of a highway leading to three other affected villages and Tavush's capital, Ijevan. This closure was acknowledged by the National Security Service as a measure to prevent locals from disrupting the mine clearance.


The demining operation triggered an angry demonstration in the nearby town of Noyemberyan, which shares a community with Baghanis and another affected village, Voskepar. Local residents blocked the highway passing through the town for several hours, before reopening it following a standoff with riot police.


Leaders from ongoing protests at another highway section near the Tavush village of Kirants joined the demonstrations. This section of the road is also slated to be handed over to Azerbaijan under the terms of a contentious border delimitation deal announced by Baku and Yerevan last Friday.


The deal entails Armenian withdrawal from four border areas occupied by Azerbaijan in Soviet times and controlled by Armenian forces in 1991-1992. However, Azerbaijan has refused to return agricultural land seized from several Tavush villages during that period.

Residents of Tavush villages near the contested border areas strongly oppose the unilateral handover, citing concerns about losing access to their agricultural land, communication difficulties, and increased vulnerability to Azerbaijani armed attacks. Since Saturday, hundreds have blocked traffic through the Kirants road section in protest, a blockade that persisted on Tuesday.


The protests have garnered support from other parts of Armenia, including opposition activists from Yerevan, and small groups blocking national highways in solidarity with Tavush protesters.


Local government officials have also criticized Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's decision to concede to Baku. Seven officials withdrew from an 11-member "working group" formed by Pashinyan's government to manage the practicalities of the land handover, citing significant risks associated with the border delimitation efforts.


The Noyemberyan community administration released a statement expressing refusal to participate in the border delimitation efforts, citing "extremely dangerous risks" that would leave parts of the community's territory vulnerable.


Mayors from Noyemberyan villages, Kirants, and Berkaber met with Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan in Yerevan, expressing dissatisfaction with the meeting's outcome. Kirants mayor Kamo Shahinyan expressed disappointment, echoing the continued opposition to Pashinyan's announced border "delimitation." One resident highlighted concerns about the proximity of their school to Azerbaijani territory, raising questions about the safety of sending children to school under such circumstances.


As the Armenian government proceeds with the land transfer, local protests persist, emphasizing the deep-seated anxieties and opposition within affected communities.

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