Ahead of a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused Baku of having ?territorial ambitions,? suggesting that the Azeri leadership wants to take land controlled by Yerevan.
Speaking on Tuesday, Pashinyan rejected the concept of building a 'Zangezur corridor', an Azeri passage through Armenian territory.
Azerbaijan is made up of two separate, disconnected areas, with the Nakhchivan exclave split from the rest of the territory. To travel between the two parts of Azerbaijan, one must pass through Armenia. To solve this problem, Baku has proposed the creation of a 'Zangezur corridor', which would put some Armenian land (Syunik Province) under Azeri control, allowing people to avoid the need to pass through Armenian border control. Yerevan has rejected the suggestion.
"Azerbaijan demonstrates by its actions that Baku has territorial ambitions with regards to Armenia," Pashinyan said. "What do the Zangezur corridor or East Zangezur mean? Who makes up these terms? We asserted and will continue to assert that we won't discuss issues in the corridor logic," he said.
According to the prime minister, Azerbaijan has "aggressive behavior" which must be curbed "through international leverage."
Pashinyan's accusation comes just days before he is due to meet Aliyev in Sochi, in a discussion mediated by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Recently, Moscow has been the third party responsible for helping the two neighboring nations maintain peace, and Russia has even sent peacekeepers.
The latest tensions over the Zangezur corridor follow last year's Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The dispute is decades old, with both countries believing they have legitimate claims to the territory. The region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is primarily populated by ethnic Armenians. Baku considers the enclave illegally occupied by Yerevan, which still controls a large amount of its land.
Following a Russia-brokered ceasefire last November, Azerbaijan took control of seven regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, deemed by Armenia to be a 'security belt' around the region. These areas, which Yerevan never claimed to be its rightful territory, are now in Baku's control. This also means that the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan moved to the immediate vicinity of the Syunik province, through which Baku wishes to form a corridor.