Now is the time to think about how to ensure peace and stability in this region in the long term. The only solution to this problem is economic and regional cooperation, which can eliminate political differences between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Here, it will be appropriate to remind about one important point of the trilateral agreement on Karabakh, according to which all economic and transport links in the region are unblocked.
“The Republic of Armenia guarantees the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic in order to organize the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions. The control over transport communication is carried out by the bodies of the Border Service of the FSB of Russia”, the paragraph reads.
We are talking about the Zangezur transport corridor, after the launch of which not only Azerbaijan and Armenia, but also Russia and Turkey will remain in the geopolitical gain. This transport corridor is designed to connect the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with Azerbaijan through the territory of Armenia (Nakhchivan is an autonomous enclave of Azerbaijan on the territory of Armenia since the times of the USSR). During the Soviet period, the South Caucasus region had a developed road network from Russia to Iran and Turkey through Azerbaijan and Armenia, passing through Nakhchivan. The Zangezur transport corridor allows connecting Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia with Iran and Turkey by direct land communication. Earlier, back in the Soviet period, large regional transportation between Russia, Iran and Turkey was carried out along this corridor. The basis of the Zangezur transport corridor is the railway, which previously inter-connected Nakhchivan, Yerevan and Baku. What dividends does the launch of the Zangezur transport corridor promise the South Caucasus and regional players?
First, Azerbaijan is connected with Turkey through a transport corridor, and this creates a favorable environment for intensifying communications in the implementation of military-political and infrastructure projects. Secondly, the official Baku gets a certain influence on the political processes in Armenia in matters related to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
For Armenia, the Zangezur transport corridor is the prospect of a number of roads from Armenia to both Russia and the Persian Gulf. Armenia has rail links with Iran and Turkey. The restoration of the corridor facilitates the access of Armenian goods to the markets of the Eurasian Economic Union, of which it has been a member since January 2015. Because the railway, which is the basis of the Zangezur transport corridor, is the only and shortest land transport link between Russia and Armenia. As a result of the First Karabakh War, in 1993 the railway was closed, which led to a land blockade of Armenia from Russia. And now, after thirty years of blockade, transport links are being restored.
For Turkey, the Zangezur transport corridor means access to the Caspian Sea, to the countries of Central Asia and China through Azerbaijan, bypassing the roads of Iran and Georgia.
For Russia, the launch of the Zangezur corridor also promises good dividends. First, it is the unblocking of land communications with Armenia. Secondly, it is an additional overland route to the markets of the Middle East, primarily to Turkey and Iran.
Iran, which was a logistic alternative to the Zangezur transport corridor, received good income from transit, thereby maintaining its influence on Azerbaijan. Now this influence is diminishing and everything that Tehran loses is flowing over to Russia and Turkey.
In addition, the Zangezur transport corridor has good prospects for being integrated into the Chinese initiative ‘One Belt, One Road’.
Thus, the Zangezur transport corridor is becoming a powerful stabilizing factor in the region, increasing the importance of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and creating a zone of compromise for the geopolitical aspirations of Russia, Turkey and Iran. On the other hand, the initiative to open the Zangezur transport corridor belongs to Azerbaijan. And as a result of this initiative, a new transport map is being formed in the South Caucasus region. It is no coincidence that after gaining independence Azerbaijan created important transport corridors connecting Asia and Europe. Transport corridors North-South, East-West, initiated by Azerbaijan, play an important role in intercontinental cargo transportation. Now this list is being replenished with one more transport corridor.
Seymur Mammadov is the director of EurAsiaAz and editor-in-chief of the Azerbaijani news agency Vzglyad.az
Daily Times (Pakistan)
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