Enlarged Geghamasar Community, Gegharkunik Region, was targeted by drones during the 44-day war between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. As a result of the well-known statement signed on November 9, 16 out of 18 villages in the community became borderline ones. In his conversation with EcoLur, Geghamasar Deputy Community Head Vardan Margaryan mentioned the new challenges.
Geghamasar borders Karvachar area. After the trilateral statement signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 9, 2020, Karvachar area came under the control of Azerbaijan.
The free movement of residents on Armenia-Karvachar border has been sharply restricted, and the use of resources and areas adjacent to Karvachar border has been reduced. Many socio-economic problems have arisen, such as pastures, arable land, job losses, and so on.
According to Deputy Mayor Vardan Margaryan, after the demarcation work is accomplished, there will a need to put up warning signs at least 1 km away from the border for the information of the population.
"Our real problems will become clear in the spring, when the spring sowing works will begin. Now, who can guarantee us that at the border, in the Sotq area, our animals can graze quietly or we can cultivate the land? There were people who made their living at Sotq-Karvachar road, working in food outlets and shops, car washes and gas stations. Now the incomes of those people have been reduced by 90%," Sotq residents told EcoLur.
Problem of Refugees in Geghamasar
During the Artsakh-Azerbaijani war, about 100 people were temporarily relocated from Artsakh to Geghamasar. Some of them returned to Artsakh after the war.
Future of Sotq Gold Mine is Uncertain
The border with Azerbaijan created a precarious situation with the further development of one of the largest Armenian mines, Sotq gold mine. The mine is located on the border of Karvachar area with Armenia. On November 26, 2020, the Azeri military invaded the mine area and demanded that the employees leave the area. Then it became known that demarcation works were carried out using GPS with the participation of the representatives of the Armed Forces of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan.
"We were not shown the exact areas of the mine. We are waiting for them to come and say, it belongs to them from here to there, and so much belongs to us. Let's finally understand where our border is, where theirs is. We have a lease agreement with the company that operates the mine. But it is only in the administrative territory of Sotq community. We do not have a territory for which there is a lease contract and it is not in our administrative territory.
We are the owners of our land, our contract, we are sure that there can be no violation of the contract, because we have not crossed anyone's land. The contract is for 144 hectares, and it is Armenian land and belongs to Sotq. We are still waiting for the solution to this issue," Vardan Margaryan explained.
The mining operations have been partially suspended since the Azerbaijanis entered Sotq mine. "Raw materials are not extracted from the mine, but we have some mined, so we have it ground and send for processing," Deputy Community Head said. "There has been no dispute between us and Azerbaijanis in regard to this issue, but if it starts, even if they enter our administrative territory even for one centimeter, there will be a dispute. We do not want to think that everything will turn into a dispute. We try to do everything right. If that right is acceptable by the enemy, thanks to God, if not, we will not give them one centimeter of land just under any circumstances," Geghamasar Deputy Community Head said.
January 15, 2021 at 13:12