Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Delimitation of Armenian-Azerbaijani Border will Be Hard; Demarcation Even Harder

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 10 – Many fail to recognize that there is a fundamental difference between delimitation of borders and their demarcation. It is of course important that governments agree where borders should run but far more important and far more difficult to actually demarcate them, that is to actually create borders on the ground with markers and passing points.

            That problem has bedeviled the countries of Central Asia over the last three decades. There many countries have agreed to delimitation accords with their neighbors, but these have not solved the problems of demarcation which continue to be sources of tension among many of them.

            Such problems, rooted in the difference between delimitation and demarcation, now lie ahead for Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two sides may be close to an agreement on beginning the process of delimitation but that does not mean they are going to be able to reach any comprehensive agreement on demarcation anytime soon.

            Much of the border between the two does not present a serious problem even in the cases where an international border once agreed to will split single villages. But there are two categories of problems in delimitation that will become even more serious when the sides move toward demarcation.

            The first of these is the question of borders of the Lachin corridor, something many already recognize as a potential deal breaker, because if Armenia agrees to any border there, its government will have de facto at least recognized Qarabagh as part of Azerbaijan and access to that region from Armenia under Azerbaijani control.

            And the second is the issue of Azerbaijani exclaves established within Armenia by the Soviet government. Baku says they must remain part of Azerbaijan, a position Armenia rejects both on principle and because of the use such places have for leverage on Baku in talks about the future status of Qarabagh.

            These relatively small areas also represent deal breakers, especially as neither side shows much willingness to agree (; and because that is so, delimitation between the two countries is likely to take a long time and demarcation even longer (

            For background on the exclave issue in the South Caucasus, see, and

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