By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has said Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijan's territories prevents full-fledged economic cooperation and opportunities in the region. In particular, Armenia is ousted from regional transport projects due its military aggression against Azerbaijan.
“If it were not for the occupation of our territories by Armenia, this country [Armenia] would have a direct swift railway link with Iran through Nakhchivan,” Mammadyarov said.
Mammadyarov’s remarks came in the Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) on November 9, as reported on the MFA’s official website.
"As it is reflected in our Antalya Communiqué, existing unresolved conflicts in the ECO region, including Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, prevent our full fledge cooperation," Mammadyarov stated.
As he noted, “challenging realities on the ground” must be fixed, to allow greater cooperation between our countries.
“There is also another important provision in communique,” he added, “which mentions the importance of withstanding other pressures in the region, including common threats and pertinent conflicts.”
"No regional economic cooperation is possible if political and military challenges, including the cases of occupation and illegal activities in the occupied territories are not removed. That’s why what the Declaration of Islamabad Summit of 2017 emphasized in respect to this very issue should be streamlined in ECO Member States own national and regional activities," Mammadyarov went on saying.
The minister reminded that his country attaches a high importance to a further development of economic and trade ties and underlined Baku’s initiatives in international transport projects.
“Azerbaijan diversifies and modernizes its transport infrastructure, which will serve to the interconnection of the Trans-European and Trans-Asian railway networks. The backbone railway line Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, which already attracts the attention of several Chinese and European logistics companies, New International Sea Trade Port, along with an ambitious investor-friendly Free Economic Zone concept, East-West Trans-Caspian International Transport Route as the Middle Corridor for China-led Belt and Road Initiative, Lapis Lazuli trade route with its aim to unlock the potential of Afghanistan, as well as North-South and South-West trade corridors are the key infrastructure projects directed toward increasing transit capacity of the entire ECO region,” the minister said.
Armenia found itself in isolation due to the military aggression against neighbouing Azerbaijan, which is an important transit hub in the South Caucasus region.
Azerbaijan closed its borders with Armenia during the war in the early 1990s, ousting Armenia from its important energy and transport projects in the future. In 1993, following the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar town, Turkey also decided to close its borders with Armenia in support of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
Before the war in 1990s, Armenia was connected to the world through its railway network that had four connecting stations: Ayrum – Sadakhlo (Georgia), Akhuryan – Dogukapi (Turkey), Yeraskh – Velidag (Azerbaijan) and Ijevan – Barkhudarly (Azerbaijan).
The Yerevan-Baku-Moscow railway line does not operate through Azerbaijan any longer due to the fact that Armenia occupied Zangilan, Jabrail and Fuzuli regions, as well as the Horadiz railway station.
The Agstafa railway (Azerbaijan) - Ijevan (Armenia) does not function due to the fact that on April 27, 1992 the Armenian army captured the Azerbaijani enclave in Armenia - the village of Barkhudarly, through which the railway to Ijevan passed. The Ijevan-Barkhudarly railway section is completely demolished, as well as the Yeraskh-Velidag-Sharur. The Armenian army seized the railway stations of Barkhudarly and Horadiz, and also dismantled the rail tracks in the sections connecting with Azerbaijan.
In 1993, Turkey stopped the railway connection through Akhuryan-Dogukapi station.
Another railway line that connected Armenia with Russia and passed through Georgia was also closed due to the war in Georgia’s Abkhazia.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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