Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Iran‘s President Ebrahim Raisi spoke Saturday, as tensions escalated on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.
Pashinyan and Raisi discussed issues including the blockade of the Lachin corridor leading to the Nagorno-Karabakh region by Azerbaijan, and the buildup of the Azerbaijani military around the disputed region, read a statement from the Armenian prime minister’s office released Saturday.
The call was one of a series made by Pashinyan, who also spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, among others, according to other statement from the prime minister’s office.
The flurry of calls comes as tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan increase following Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh by cutting off the Lachin corridor, the only road that connects the enclave to Armenia.
The blockade, which has been ongoing since December 2022, has resulted in food and fuel shortages in the territory.
These tensions have further escalated following the election of Samvel Shahramanyan as the new leader of Nagorno-Karabakh, an act Azerbaijan labelled as “a clear violation of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
As well as tensions over the current situation with Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence claimed that Armenian soldiers opened fire with small arms on its soldiers in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan – a claim denied by the Armenian defence ministry.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have had tense relations following both countries independence from the Soviet Union, fighting two wars over the ethnically Armenian territory of Nagorno-Karabakh which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
The most recent all-out war, fought in 2020, resulted in a Russian-backed ceasefire, with much of the Armenian held territory, some of which being outside Nagorno-Karabakh, was ceded to Azerbaijan.
However, the two countries have yet to sign a lasting peace settlement even with mediation efforts from international powers such as the EU, the US and Russia.
Iran has sought to present itself as a mediator in Baku and Yerevan’s longstanding dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, but Tehran has been accused of sending weapons to the Armenians to support its fight for the territory. Iran has denied such claims.