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Aliyev, Erdogan Emphasize Swift Opening of Zangezur Corridor

By Nargiz Mammadli June 15, 2023

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President Ilham Aliyev and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a one-on-one meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, June 13, 2023 / President.Az

The opening of the Zangezur corridor was among the key issues on the agenda of the bilateral talks between President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Baku this week.

President Erdogan was in Azerbaijan for a two-day visit, from June 12-13, upon the invitation by President Aliyev, according to the Azerbaijani president’s press service.

On Tuesday, he met with President Aliyev to discuss the issues of mutual and regional interest.

During the joint press conference, the two leaders commented on the significance of the Zangezur corridor’s launch at the earliest.

“The opening of the Zangezur corridor is inevitable, the sooner the better. In any case, we will increase our efforts in this direction,” President Aliyev said.

The Azerbaijani president added that the corridor’s opening will usher in new opportunities for all countries and will have a positive impact on regional cooperation.

For his part, President Erdogan said the Zangezur corridor would bring two important opportunities to strengthen the relationship between Azerbaijan and Türkiye.

“With the opening of the road from here to Igdir (a Turkish province on the border with Azerbaijan) and Nakhchivan, Türkiye’s connection with Nakhchivan will be stronger thanks to the steps to be taken both in relation to the highway and railway. The establishment of these relations will enable further strengthening of the relations between Türkiye and Azerbaijan,” the Turkish leader stated.

The government of Azerbaijan is going to restore the direct connection between the country’s mainland and Nakhchivan on the Zangezur multi-modal transport corridor.

The construction of the Zangazur corridor is one of the projects initiated by Azerbaijan following the 2020 war with Armenia. Article 9 of the trilateral agreement signed by Azerbaijan, Russia, and Armenia on November 10, 2020, to end the Second Karabakh War provides for the unblocking of all economic and transport links in the region.

Armenia undertook to guarantee the safety of transport links between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan in order to ensure an unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles, and goods in both directions.

Nakhchivan became an exclave separated from the Azerbaijani mainland after the Soviet occupation of the South Caucasus region in 1920. Following the region’s incorporation, Soviet rulers inked a decision to transfer some of Azerbaijan's territories, including its historic region of Zangazur, which borders Nakhchivan, to the newly-created Armenian state.

Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s aggravated Nakhchivan’s isolation. All kinds of energy, electricity, and transport connections, including highways and railway links to Nakhchivan was closed by Armenia. Currently, land connections with Nakhchivan are available via either Iran or Türkiye.

The multi-modal Zangezur corridor will connect Nakhchivan, a southwestern exclave, with mainland Azerbaijan and further plug into the railway and highway grid of Türkiye.

With its potential to form a part of the global routes, the Zangezur corridor is expected to contribute to the Eurasian economies with a nominal GDP of $1.1 trillion.

The government of Azerbaijan plans to complete the construction of Azerbaijani section of the route and put it into operation in 2024.

Although the opening of the Zangezur corridor has significant potential, Armenia strongly opposes its launch. Additionally, the Armenian government has failed to take concrete action towards restoring their section of the corridor despite its commitments.