Regional communication project delayed due to Armenian inaction


Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said the issue of unblocking regional communications should be clarified with Armenia, given Yerevan’s reluctance to start working on its side.


The remarks were made by the president during a meeting with a delegation led by the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, in Baku on Tuesday.


“One of the issues that needs to be clarified with the Armenian side is the issue of communications with Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. I mean both the railroad and the highway. Regarding the railway, I informed President Michel that we have built more than 60 kilometers of railway in Azerbaijan and we will complete the construction next year,” President Aliyev said, according to his official site.


“Unfortunately, they [Armenian authorities] have not yet started work on the feasibility study in Armenia, indicating that the process may be delayed.


The Azerbaijani mainland should be connected with the southwestern enclave of Nakhchivan through the Zangazur multimodal corridor in accordance with the agreement reached in November 2020. To realize the project, Baku and Yerevan should create the necessary infrastructure, including the restoration of railway lines forming part of the corridor. .


Armenia and Azerbaijan had been at odds for nearly 30 years over the latter’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region, which fell under Armenia’s control following an all-out war from 1991 to 1994. The bloody war saw Armenia occupy 20% of the international territory of Azerbaijan. recognized territories. More than 30,000 Azerbaijanis have been killed and a million expelled from these lands in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenia. Following the Armenia-Azerbaijan war in the early 1990s, Nakhichevan became completely isolated from the Azerbaijani mainland after Armenia shut down energy, electricity and transport connections, including highways and railways to and from the region.


On September 27, 2020, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict took a violent turn when Armenian forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During counterattack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated more than 300 settlements, including the towns of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha, from almost 30 years of illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with a tripartite declaration signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under the agreement, Armenia also returned the occupied districts of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin to Azerbaijan.


The trilateral agreement also addressed the unblocking of regional communications after decades of stagnation. Before the first Karabakh war in 1991-1994, there was a railway connection between the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, and Nakhchivan. However, it was destroyed and looted by Armenians during the years of occupation of the Azerbaijani districts of Fuzuli, Jabrayil and Zangilan.


Azerbaijan has restored the Horadiz-Aghband railway which stretches to the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border in the Zangilan district as an integral part of the Zangazur corridor. The project is being implemented in three stages totaling 110.4 kilometers in length. The railway is expected to go live sometime in 2023.


Azerbaijani government officials are convinced that such regional transport projects, including the Zangazur Corridor, could promote peace and cooperation and create new opportunities. According to some analysts, the corridor would add a new artery to the East-West and North-South intercontinental transport corridors. The launch of the Zangazur Multimodal Corridor is expected to benefit all countries in the region and contribute to Eurasian trade and transport communications that integrate regional economies with a nominal GDP of $1.1 trillion.


The Armenian authorities also agreed to the restoration of regional communication links, including the segment of the Zangazur corridor on its territory. The process would cost $200 million and take three years. However, Yerevan has not yet taken any practical steps to begin construction of the 45 kilometer railway. The probability of the project starting remains unclear, given that no concrete steps have been taken since 2021.

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