Hikmet Hajiyev

Armenia Signals Continuing Opposition to ‘Corridor’ for Azerbaijan

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By Shoghik Galstian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Armenia signaled on January 12 its continuing rejection of Azerbaijan’s demands for an extraterritorial corridor to the Nakhichevan exclave that would pass through a strategic Armenian region bordering Iran.

Baku renewed those demands this month after Armenian leaders expressed hope that the two South Caucasus states will sign a peace treaty soon. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev insisted on January 10 that people and cargo transported to and from Nakhichevan through Armenia’s Syunik province must be exempted from Armenian border checks.

Aliyev’s top foreign policy aide, Hikmet Hajiyev, claimed last week that this would not compromise Armenian sovereignty over Syunik. Hajiyev argued that the European Union has a similar arrangement for Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave sandwiched between EU members Poland and Lithuania. He said Baku is seeking the same solution for Nakhichevan.

In written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service sent on Friday, the Armenian Foreign Ministry declined to clarify whether Yerevan has discussed it with Baku. It said that the Armenian government’s “Crossroads of Peace” project unveiled by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan last November should serve as a blueprint for opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to travel and commerce.

The project says that Armenia and Azerbaijan should have full control of transport infrastructure inside each other’s territory. Hajiyev criticized it in a newspaper interview published on January 4.

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By contrast, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian praised the project when he visited Yerevan late last month. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reportedly told a visiting Azerbaijani official in October that the “Zangezur corridor” sought by Baku is “resolutely opposed” by his country.

Yerevan has not yet officially reacted to Aliyev’s latest comments on the corridor. An Armenian pro-government lawmaker, Hovik Aghazaryan, rejected them on Friday.

“Just because we are in a difficult situation doesn’t mean Aliyev should make such a statement… If he thinks that after achieving some military successes he can dictate terms, he is badly mistaken,” said Aghazaryan.

 

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