Armenian Protesters Block Road to Georgia Over Return of Villages to Azerbaijan

Armenian protesters block road to Georgia, opposing plan to hand over border villages to Azerbaijan, raising security concerns.

Ayesha Mumtaz
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Armenian Protesters Block Road to Georgia Over Return of Villages to Azerbaijan

Armenian Protesters Block Road to Georgia Over Return of Villages to Azerbaijan

Armenian protesters have blocked a road leading to Georgia in the border area of Tavush Province, preventing demining operations in the area. The protesters, who are residents of several border villages, are opposed to the Armenian government's plan to hand over eight villages to Azerbaijan, which would bring Azerbaijani military forces dangerously close to their communities.

The protesters initially unblocked the road after negotiations, but then blocked it again on Sunday when they noticed the National Security Service trying to clear the area of landmines. No government representatives from Yerevan have yet expressed a desire to talk with the protesters.

Armenia has agreed to return four abandoned Azerbaijani border villages that had been under its control for over 30 years since the first Karabakh war. The border delimitation commissions of Armenia and Azerbaijan issued a joint statement and preliminary map based on the 1991 Alma-Ata Protocol, which is the legal basis for restoring the borders that existed between Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan.

The agreement was reached during the eighth round of negotiations between Armenian and Azerbaijani officials. The first phase of the delimitation procedure will include sections between four villages in the Tavush Province of Armenia and four deserted villages that were formerly part of the Gazakh district of Azerbaijan.

Why this matters: The agreement is seen as a significant development in the ongoing border delimitation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, it has faced strong opposition from residents of border villages in Armenia who cite security concerns over the proximity of Azerbaijani military forces to their communities.

Tensions remain high in the border village of Voskepar, where local residents have been protesting for three days against the planned handover of land to Azerbaijan. The villagers attempted to prevent security officers from demining the area near the Holy Mother of God Church in Voskepar, but were stopped by police. "The protesters refer to those supporting the land handover as 'land givers'," according to local reports.

Key Takeaways

  • Armenian protesters block road to Georgia, opposing handover of villages to Azerbaijan.
  • Armenia agrees to return 4 abandoned Azerbaijani border villages under its control since 1991.
  • Border delimitation based on 1991 Alma-Ata Protocol, first phase includes 4 villages in Tavush.
  • Residents of border villages in Armenia protest, citing security concerns over Azerbaijani forces.
  • Tensions high in Voskepar village, where residents tried to prevent demining near a church.