How far can President Recep Tayyip Erdogan push his demand for the Zangezur Corridor? On October 26 he was scheduled to head to Azerbaijan to attend the inauguration of an airport in Varanda, which was taken over by Azerbaijani forces during the 44-day war. Before his trip to Azerbaijan, Erdogan reiterated his idea of the corridor through Armenia’s sovereign territory, stating that Turkey has not changed its mind on the corridor issue.
“We are still determined on the opening of the corridor,” he said.
His soulmate, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, who was threatening to open the corridor by force, has been quiet recently. He has even released five more Armenian POWs and the rumor is that more will be released by November.
These changes cannot take place without underlying reasons. There is a definite change in the political atmosphere: First, the issue of the corridor is no longer left to Armenia; it has become a global issue. Turkey wants the corridor as a component of its pan-Turanic plans, but now there are other regional players who are wary of Turkey’s expansionism. The corridor has become a red line for Iran, which has gone to the brink of war with Azerbaijan, and equally interested is India, as demonstrated by its more active presence in the region recently.
Another factor is the possible ill health of President Erdogan. Now his designated heir apparent, Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar, is cited in some news stories and credited with building up Turkey’s armed forces.
Unlike its forces, Turkey’s economy is faltering and the opposition has been accusing Erdogan of causing the country’s economic decline through his expensive foreign adventures.