In an interview with the Azerbaijani state television, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev touched upon the issue of the “Zangezur corridor” which should connect the western part of the country with its exclave – Nakhchivan. Aliyev’s unexpected statement sparked an angry reaction in Armenia.
In an interview with “Az TV”, President Ilham Aliyev said: “The creation of the Zangezur corridor fully meets our national, historical and future interests. We are implementing the Zangezur Corridor, whether Armenia wants it or not.
If Armenia wants it, then the issue will be resolved easier, if it does not want it, we will decide it by force. Just as before and during the war, I said that they must leave our lands, or we will expel them by force. And so it happened. The same will be the fate of the Zangezur corridor. Our main rival is time because the construction of a railway and a highway takes time.
Therefore, all forces have been mobilized for the implementation of this project. Thus, the Azerbaijani people will return to Zangezur, which was taken away from us 101 years ago. According to the trilateral agreement signed by the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia, and the Prime Minister of Armenia on November 10, 2020, the main part of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan will be connected by a transport line passing through the territory of Armenia.
“All economic and transport links in the region are being unblocked. The Republic of Armenia guarantees the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchiva Autonomous Republic to organize the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles, and goods in both directions.
Control over transport communication is carried out by the bodies of the Border Service of Russia. By agreement of the Parties, the construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be ensured.”
The statements of the Azerbaijani President were commented on by the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry. Anna Naghdalyan said, Armenia will take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity:
“Such statements seriously undermine the regional peace and stability. They reveal the false nature of Azerbaijan’s recent statements on peace and reconciliation. It is noteworthy that such threats are made on the eve of the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide; they are intended to speak to the Armenian people from a position of force.
We are in constant touch with our strategic partner, as well as with all our partners interested in peace in the South Caucasus.” Nikol Pashinyan believes that the Azerbaijan president, with his rhetoric, wants to disrupt the process of unblocking regional communications:
“The situation is even more aggravated against the background of provocative and indiscriminate statements of the Azerbaijani leadership. These statements contradict each other. On the one hand, the President of Azerbaijan declares that he has no territorial claims against Armenia, on the other hand, he speaks of the opening of the Zangezur corridor by force.”
The Armenian prime minister also believes that international structures should seriously react and counteract such provocative statements.
He again stressed that the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, does not mention “Zangezur”, that is, the Syunik region of Armenia, there is no word “corridor” there, and it is only about unblocking regional communications: “In the Moscow statement of January 11, we laid down what should happen.
If Azerbaijan talks about the “Zangezur corridor”, then the Armenian leadership can talk about the Nakhchivan corridor. Azerbaijan can get the same “corridor” that Armenia will get through Azerbaijani territory. Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry commented on the statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
Leyla Abdullayeva, the head of the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, stated that “the head of the Azerbaijani state, as always, expressed himself quite clearly and concretely. If the Armenian Foreign Ministry wants to present what it hears, the way it wants, this already testifies to their hated intentions.
“I would like to inform those wishing to interpret the opinion of the head of our state in their way that the President of Azerbaijan in an interview on April 20 spoke about possible revanchism in Armenia directed against Azerbaijan, and about threats to our territorial integrity. He stated that “if we find a possible threat, we will immediately stop it. Since this is “a matter of national defense, a matter of national security. This is not a threat to the territorial integrity of Armenia, as the Armenian Foreign Ministry claims, but an indicator of our determination to respond to any threat that may arise from the Armenian side within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan.
“I would like to remind you that in the interview”
the head of state also announced Azerbaijan’s readiness for cooperation, stressed that, despite the genocide committed by Armenia against Azerbaijanis at the state level, and the destruction of our historical, cultural and religious monuments, we must be focused on the future. As has been repeatedly stated at the highest level, Azerbaijan is ready to normalize relations with Armenia based on the principles of international law, in particular the sovereignty of states, territorial integrity, and inviolability of international borders.
This is also facilitated by the implementation of the trilateral statements signed on November 10, 2020, and January 11, 2021. Armenia, on the contrary, poisons the consciousness of its population with false and slanderous statements and tries to mislead the international community, ” she said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also commented on Aliyev’s speech. “Today’s talks covered not only the trilateral cooperation aimed at unblocking economic links in the region but the whole spectrum of issues that emerged in the post-conflict period,”
Russia’s FM (Foreign Minister) Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference, summing up talks with his Armenian counterpart. Lavrov’s remarks were made in response to a comment on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent statement about the so-called ‘Zangezur corridor. Lavrov reminded that the mechanism of trilateral cooperation at the level of deputy prime ministers was established according to the decision of the president of Russia, Azerbaijan, and the prime minister of Armenia as reflected in the January 11 trilateral statement adopted in Moscow.
This mechanism envisages agreements that exclusively volunteer, are based on mutual benefits, and imply nothing except diplomatic agreements and decisions aimed at completely unblocking the economic links. Any issues put forward contrary to the agreements made by the three leaders can not be accepted as an alternative to what has already been agreed,” said Lavrov. As Aliyev showed a tendency to facilitate a new corridor via Armenian territories, this issue might create new discussions in the future. Especially, the Armenian side might refuse cooperation with Azerbaijan by claiming Russian support against the Azerbaijani approaches.