RCDS Insights - Armenia’s Efforts to Maintain Control Over Transport Routes

RCDS Insights - Armenia’s Efforts to Maintain Control Over Transport Routes



What: Armenia presents its vision, entitled “Crossroads of Peace”, to safeguard sovereign control over regional transport links.


Context: On October 26, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan visited Tbilisi to present Yerevan’s vision for regional transport links, named “Crossroads of Peace”. The opening of regional transport links, blocked for more than three decades, is seen as necessary for ensuring regional stability. Additionally, Pasninyan announced the establishment of a special unit within the National Security Service (NSS) tasked with ensuring security for international cargo and passengers within Armenia’s borders.


The ceasefire statement on November 9, 2020, includes a provision about the presence of Russian FSB border guards on transport links from mainland Azerbaijan, through Armenia, to Nakhichevan. However, both sides have different interpretations of this clause. Although there seems to be a consensus that the opening of these transport links should respect sovereignty and reciprocity principles, it appears that both Baku and Moscow are still pursuing outcomes that allow Russia some control over these routes.


After the ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh, legitimate concerns persist in Armenia regarding the potential for Azerbaijan to pressure Armenia for maximal concessions on this issue, with Russia’s tacit approval. 


Why: The motives behind Armenia’s recent actions are clear: Pashinyan’s government is attempting to prevent the surrender of any control over transport links on its territory to third parties, without appearing disruptive. This approach, presented by Pashinyan in Tbilisi, has been his government’s stance towards the opening of transport links since the end of the Second Karabakh War in 2020. 


For example, in August 2022, the Armenian Government decided to establish three checkpoints along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. This move suggested that Azerbaijani vehicles could pass through and use Armenia's roads, with Armenia maintaining control. Pashinyan rebranded this approach as the "Crossroads of Peace". This idea involves opening all Soviet-era transport routes under the sovereign control of the countries where these routes are located. The creation of a special unit in the NSS is part of this proposition.


Implications: We believe that the Armenian government’s efforts will not significantly influence the process of unblocking transport routes. These reformulated visions are not likely to alter Russia’s and Azerbaijan’s approaches, as they do not align with their interests.