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Iran Welcomes Karabakh’s Return to Azerbaijan, New Transit Links in Caucasus

By Nigar Bayramli October 4, 2023

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Iran earlier opposed Azerbaijan’s plans to launch the Zangazur corridor, a transport link between mainland Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave via southern Armenia. / Minval.az

Iran expressed support for the expansion of transport links in the Caucasus region, but reiterated its opposition to any geopolitical changes in the region.

“We support the expansion of transit routes and transportation networks in a way that serves the interests of all regional countries, but at the same time we emphasize that we oppose any change to international borders,” Nasser Kanani, Spokesperson for Iran's Foreign Ministry, said on October 2, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Iran welcomed the "return of the occupied region" of Karabakh (Garabagh) to Azerbaijan, adding that Tehran was also offering humanitarian aid to Karabakh Armenians who left the region.

“We believe differences in the Caucasus can be resolved via political dialogue and regional capacities,” Kanani added.

He also stressed that Tehran is against any extra-regional intervention and foreign presence in the Caucasus, and noted that Iran supports regional dialogue within the framework of the 3+3 format cooperation mechanism.

The 3+3 format cooperation mechanism should feature the three South Caucasus countries of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, and plus Türkiye, Russia, and Iran. It was proposed after the 2020 Second Karabakh War. Only a few meetings have been held in this format. However, Georgia did not participate in this format.

Iran earlier opposed Azerbaijan’s plans to launch the Zangazur corridor, a transport link between mainland Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave via southern Armenia, on concerns that the corridor will sever its 40-km land border with Armenia.

The establishment of the corridor was agreed upon as part of the tripartite statement that ended the 2020 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Yerevan committed to ensuring the safety of transport links between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan to facilitate unrestricted movement of citizens, vehicles, and goods in both directions.

The Azerbaijani military conducted the 24-hour anti-terror operation, on September 19-20, to neutralize illegal formations of the Armenian army in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The operation disabled almost the entire separatists military infrastructure, leaving them no choice but to surrender.

The capitulation of the illegal Armenian armed formations in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan came on September 20 after they retreated agreeing to complete disarmament.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, in coordination with the Russian peacekeepers, has been confiscating weapons, ammunition, and military equipment from the illegal Armenian troops in the region.

Meanwhile, on September 28, the so-called leadership of the Armenian separatists in the Karabakh region announced self-dissolution.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said on September 29 that Baku is actively building a railway that will be a part of a major transport corridor running all the way from mainland Azerbaijan to its exclave Nakhchivan, and further to Iran, Türkiye and Europe.

He added that the construction of a railway from Horadiz in Azerbaijan's southern Fuzuli District to Zangilan was in an active phase and this part of the transport corridor would soon be complete.

On September 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who backs the Zangazur corridor project, said if Yerevan “does not pave the way for this”, the Zangazur route will pass through Iran. He also said that Tehran viewed "positively" the prospect of a rail link to Azerbaijan.