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Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘We is not going to give away our land’: Armenians close to Azerbaijan exclave | Information

Meghri, Armenia – One week after Azerbaijan seized Nagorno-Karabakh, Margo, a 74-year-old retired piano teacher, sat in a restaurant and puzzled if her hometown of Meghri, in southern Armenia, would quickly share Karabakh’s destiny.

In Armenian, Meghri means the city of honey, however life isn’t candy, Margo stated, not least now.

She believes that following Baku’s current victory, Azerbaijan, emboldened, will now search to grab elements of her native area, a strategic strip of land which separates Azerbaijan from its exclave of Nakhichevan.

“We fear on daily basis. Each hour. We even know the place their troops are situated at our borders,” stated Margo. “We is not going to give away our land, not an opportunity. We’ll combat until the tip. But when they seize it, they may drive all of us out of right here, too.”

Again within the Soviet days, Meghri, a mountainous city of about 4,000 residents close to Iran’s border, lay on a prepare route connecting Azerbaijan with its exclave. However following years of battle between the neighbours over Nagorno-Karabakh, and mutual acts of violence, the route fell into oblivion.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, within the nineties and in 2020. However this yr, after Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive, Baku took whole management of the area, which lies inside its borders. Till a number of months in the past, it was dominated by ethnic Armenians. Now, it resembles a ghost city, as most have fled to Armenia.

After the second Karabakh conflict, which ended with an settlement facilitated by Russia, Armenia agreed to permit a land connection between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan.

Whereas Azerbaijan and Russia declare that the street was meant to be outdoors of Armenia’s management, overseen by the Russian Federal Safety Service, or FSB, Armenia rejects this interpretation.

In Yerevan’s view, the settlement was made on the time when Azerbaijan was blocking Armenia’s solely land connection to Nagorno-Karabakh and was meant as a part of mutual concessions.

However as Azerbaijan started a nine-month blockade of the realm in December 2022, successfully slicing ethnic Armenians off the skin world, and ultimately recapturing the realm, Armenia doesn’t really feel obliged to fulfill its a part of the settlement.

And that’s regardless of Azerbaijan’s declare that it will probably solely profit from the deal.

“Armenia will be capable of profit from the growing commerce within the area and all commerce initiatives which can be more likely to be realised sooner or later,” Kanan Heydarov, a political analyst from Azerbaijan, informed Al Jazeera.

“Will probably be capable of make nice financial positive aspects. As it’s recognized, Armenia has not been capable of profit from many huge commerce initiatives developed within the area to this point.”

In recent times, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, started to seek advice from Armenia as “Western Azerbaijan”. He additionally began calling for the creation of the “Zangezur Hall”, a freeway linking Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan alongside the previous Soviet rail monitor.

“The Zangezur Hall is a historic necessity,” Aliyev stated final January including that will probably be created whether or not Armenia needs it or not. Earlier, in 2021, the president threatened to ascertain it by drive.

Following Azerbaijan’s victory over Nagorno-Karabakh, which led to an nearly full exodus of its Armenian inhabitants, locals like Margo – and a few consultants – worry that Azerbaijan may deliver its plan to life by drive.

“I believe Aliyev is cautious to not burn bridges behind. He likes to look at Davos, the Munich Safety Convention and different international boards, and he needs to proceed serving fuel to Europe,” David Akopyan, former United Nations diplomat and Armenian analyst, informed Al Jazeera.

“However he’s going to take as a lot as he’s allowed to take, so we now have to be conscious and ready. It’s vital that when it occurs, we now have measures to answer the aggression.”

An ethnic Armenian woman sits in a car
An ethnic Armenian girl from Nagorno-Karabakh sits inside an previous Soviet-style automobile as she arrives in Goris, in Syunik area, Armenia [File: Vasily Krestyaninov/AP Photo]

Russia, Armenia’s conventional ally, whose troops have been accountable for defending Nagorno-Karabakh’s inhabitants, failed to stop Azerbaijan’s navy offensive.

Analysts stated Moscow may not stand towards the creation of a hall that might join not solely Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan but in addition Central Asia – a area in its yard – with Turkey and additional with Europe.

Many Armenians, who’ve little religion in Russia now, have additionally turned towards Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, blaming him for jeopardising Armenia’s safety by antagonising Russia.

Russia has a major navy presence in Armenia, whereas the FSB controls a few of Armenia’s borders. Additionally it is Armenia’s largest buying and selling companion which controls the nation’s vitality sector.

“Russia’s final aim right here is to alter the Armenian authorities since Pashinyan is attempting to impact a geopolitical shift within the area,” claimed Karen Harutyunyan, editor in chief of Armenian information website CivilNet.

“However my worry is that in the long run, Pashinyan’s actions will solely improve Russia’s affect on Armenia, regardless of the rising anti-Russian sentiment among the many public.”

Armenia receives continued assist from the USA and France. Throughout a go to to Yerevan earlier this month, French International Minister Catherine Colonna agreed to ship navy tools to Armenia.

In the meantime, Azerbaijan is an in depth ally of Turkey, a NATO member, whose affect within the South Caucasus has risen prominently lately.

“An Azerbaijani invasion is a practical situation,” Harutyunyan stated. “If it occurs, nobody goes to cease it: neither the European Union nor the USA.”

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