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Friday October 7 2022

Armenia's naive illusions amidst neglect of real opportunities

14 June 2022 17:55 (UTC+04:00)
Armenia's naive illusions amidst neglect of real opportunities

By Sabina Mammadli

Armenia has disastrously failed in its attempts to bypass Azerbaijan to get access to the international transport links, and nothing will be possible without Baku's approval of Yerevan's attempts to this end, be it through Iran or Georgia without mentioning Turkey.

Rephasing the well-known saying "all roads lead to Rome", the immediate conclusion is that for Yerevan to break the impasse to which it has pushed itself - the only way is to agree to a comprehensive peace treaty and embrace the current-day realities.

Monitoring the post-war developments pertaining Yerevan's search for transport corridors to bypass Azerbaijan and thus avoid honoring minimum the conditions of the November 10, 2020, trilateral statement, one comes to the conclusion that Armenia is again making futile attempts to shoulder a burden under which its crush causes no doubt.

Driven by self-interest, Armenia is gradually gravitating towards India. Immediately after the disastrous defeat in the 44-day second Karabakh war in 2020, Armenian officials out of nowhere began to significantly expand their contacts with India.

Mutual visits once sparse have suddenly acquired unprecedented frequency. In fact, the recent two years have seen more activities than the thirty-year-old history of the existence of the ties between Yerevan and New Delhi.

In this regard, the visit of Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Yerevan in October 2021, which was the first Indian politician of such caliber to visit Armenia, set off the trend. Following that, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan paid a visit to the port of Mumbai in April. Prior to the Mumbai visit, the Armenian government planned to sign a customs agreement with India.

The rationale behind Armenia’s sudden interest in expanding ties with India could be traced back to the Armenian minister’s interview with an Indian news outlet in May, where he talked about the prospects for North-South cooperation - Chabahar port, as well as the Persian Gulf - Black Sea corridor.

In other words, Yerevan has its eyes on stretching its routes in unfeasible directions, given the dismal state of the country's transport and communication infrastructure, as well as its financial state.

Moreover, Armenia is a landlocked nation, which only adds immeasurably to the pricetag of transportation, delays the deliveries of cargoes, and overall hinders the customs control. Additionally, the findings of the World Bank specialists indicate that the issue of slow economic development cannot be resolved by the improvement of infrastructure in countries with no access to the sea.

The truth is that Armenia’s futile attempts to expand transport ties with India are doomed to failure as this can only be doable through Azerbaijan's participation.

Armenia has major plans to join the North-South corridor but we should bear in mind that there is no railway connection between Iran and Armenia, which is a crucial element for the North-South project. Iran and Armenia have for many years discussed the possibility of building the railway someday but to no avail.

Besides, the highway from Iran to Armenia through Syunik region, in some places, passes through Azerbaijani territories. On the other hand, the Tatev-Avgani road is not an alternative, as it is absolutely impassable for trucks with trailers carrying goods for Armenia from Iran. In this regard, Yerevan was forced to start building a new Sisian-Kajaran road, which, according to Yerevan, could become an important part of the North-South project.

A little reality check here could be the fact that despite being under construction for over three years, only some 5-6 percent of the road has been built. Moreover, the promised by the European Investment Bank funding for the construction of the North-South road, specifically, the Landjik-Gyumri section did not ever occur. According to official Yerevan, the government should allocate 3 billion drams for this project. Under the loan agreement signed with the bank, Yerevan was supposed to transfer funds to repay the loan within the next three years but it did not fulfill these obligations. After the change of power in Armenia in 2018, the government announced the theft of huge sums of money as part of the project.

This way, it becomes clear that Armenia’s only prospect to become a part of the large-scale North-South project lies in its relations with Azerbaijan. The road Arazdoyan-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri, connecting Iran and Armenia through the territory of Azerbaijan, is the most realistic and optimal perspective.

It is high time for Armenia to take its rose-tinted glasses off and take an objective look at its real capabilities.

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Sabina Mammadli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @SabinaMmdl

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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