The delay in public announcements, this time about the change in the route of the Lachin Corridor, once again became an occasion to generate questions in the media. In June, some questions on this topic were answered, but some questions still remain unclear, allowing for the spread of various speculations and unspecified hypotheses.
On June 10, the leader of the Resistance movement, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, announced that there is a collusive agreement between Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev, by which we will lose the road to Berdzor.
“A bypass road is being built to Stepanakert, which should be commissioned after 2-3 months. If that road is put into operation, we will completely lose the Berdzor region, Aghavno, and some Armenian villages,” Saghatelyan said.
The National-Democratic Pole accused the Artsakh authorities of conspiracy. The press service of the pole announced that a high-ranking official from Stepanakert visited the Aghavno community of the Kashatagh region of Artsakh and convinced the residents of Aghavno to leave the village with their families. From Artsakh, they urged the pole, “not to make themselves the standard of patriotism.” But the handover of the Armenian settlements was soon officially confirmed.
During the press conference on June 27, Nikol Pashinyan did not consider the topic of Berdzor as news, but as a part of the statement of November 9, 2020. “In case of a change in the route, the territories that are not within the former Nagorno-Karabakh border will be under the control of Azerbaijan,” Pashinyan said.’
Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan confirmed the transfer of Berdzor to Azerbaijan on June 30, but he still hopes that Aghavno village will remain under Armenian control. “We are obliged to leave the city of Berdzor, as it is written in the sixth point, and we have things to do regarding Aghavno, we are continuing the negotiations,” he said.
The officials were laconic, so the media published their direct speech, avoiding interpretations.
Arayik Harutyunyan explained that they were offered several different options of ways, and the safest option was chosen by the Security Council. Neither Pashinyan nor Harutyunyan disclosed the details of the option. Harutyunyan excused himself that he could not tell details because a network of traitors exists. However, this reasoning did not satisfy the media, and various journalists tried to get details from unofficial sources.
Abraham Gasparyan, the former TV commentator of “Armnews” was one of those who revealed the new route. “A thirty-two-kilometer-long road is being built from Kornidzor, i.e., the last village before entering the fields of Artsakh, which comes parallel to the existing road, bypasses Aghavno, Sosi, and Berdzor, comes through Hin Shen, Mets Shen, connects to Yegtsahogh, Lisagor, and under Shushi joins Stepanakert,” he said. In addition to extra information, during this interview, an opinion was voiced that because of this road, another 1915 deportation will await our compatriots.
Nariri Hokhikyan, one of the authors of “Sputnik Armenia,” referring to his sources, said that Azerbaijan agreed to move high-voltage electric current, Internet, and telephone lines as well. Hokhikyan said that Berdzor will surrender on July 1st. He suggested trying to at least delay the handover by repopulating the city and waiting for the end of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
“One month, half a month is enough time for us to organize ourselves, and bring an X number of people, let’s say a thousand people, to live in Berdzor. Until December 1, 2020, 3,000 people lived in Berdzor,” Hokhikyan urged.
The media spread opinions that Azerbaijan cannot build a road for Armenians with its own funds. “It can be used, for example, to deport Armenians. Now that is possible,” Aravot published the words of former RA Ambassador to Poland Edgar Ghazaryan. There was also dissatisfaction that Azerbaijan is building the alternative road too quickly, while according to the tripartite statement, only the parties should agree about the project of the new route within three years.
A very small number of experts urged not to give in to emotions but to raise concrete issues in the negotiations. Among them was the former chairman of the Artsakh parliament’s foreign relations committee, political scientist Vahram Atanesyan, who said in a conversation with “First News,” “Along with the approval of the new route, the Armenian parties must adjust the physical, geographical and topographical parameters with the Russian troops. Which settlement, in particular, falls under the width of the bypassing of Berdzor? We understood this, but what about the other settlements? It is not a road, but a corridor, an area of physical contact. These should be discussed in the working atmosphere, and emotions, making a statement that someone is handing over territory, or another round of depopulation is taking place, are not useful, they harm the case even more.”
This exhortation of Atanesyan is appropriate when the progress in the negotiations and the safety of the local population are a priority.
And the media often focuses on finding accusations and conspiracy. Anyway, until new details are published, this topic has been temporarily silent, parallel to the appearance of other information opportunities.