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New Azerbaijan-Iran communication pact's implications for Armenia

21 March 2022 10:00 (UTC+04:00)
New Azerbaijan-Iran communication pact's implications for Armenia

By Ayya Lmahamad

Dozens of experts and economists have been evaluating and commenting on the memorandum of agreement on the establishment of new communications between the East Zangazur economic zone and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic via Iranian territory in recent days.

The major point of the signed memorandum is that Nakhchivan has broken free from the blockade and is now connected to the rest of the country's territory. This is a critical action taken by the two neighbors that will resolve a number of concerns.

Azerbaijan and the region would benefit greatly from the execution of the inked pact, according to experts and economists.

However, for Armenia, this agreement means that it will stay out of regional programs. Armenia is still hesitant to come to terms with the new regional realities and has attempted to postpone the opening of communications, particularly the Zangazur corridor, under various pretexts since the end of the Second Karabakh War.

Geopolitical stalemate

Elman Nasirov, a member of the Milli Majlis committee on international relations and interparliamentary relations, told local media that the Armenian government expected the negotiations with Azerbaijan to be conducted under Armenia's dictation, but now Armenia is in a geopolitical stalemate, and the Armenian government's behavior only adds to the country's isolation.

He added that Armenia is still unable to make judgments that are in the best interests of the country.

"However, Armenians can still board the final carriage of a departing train. To do so, Yerevan must fulfill its commitments for the Zangazur corridor's implementation. Only in this situation would Armenia be able to participate in a new stage of the South Caucasus development," he said.

End to Yerevan’s provocations

Economist Eldaniz Amirov told local media that the signed memorandum will limit the means of pressure from Armenia.

He emphasized that the geography and strategic location of communications in this direction emerge as an alternative to the Zangazur corridor, noting that the memorandum is of strategic importance in logistics, tourism, and trade.

"Yerevan wanted to continue inconveniencing the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic by cutting off land ties to the rest of Azerbaijan. But the memorandum of understanding between Azerbaijan and Iran puts an end to Armenia's efforts," he said.

Amirov further stated that the current level of ties between Iran and Azerbaijan is directly tied to the changing geopolitical environment following the Second Karabakh War.

"In general, the presence of corridors in this region to the north, south, and west has laid a solid foundation for the establishment of new commercial and political links between Azerbaijan and other countries in the region," he added.

Armenia once again out of game

Furthermore, Armenian energy security expert Vahe Davtyan stated that the establishment of a North-South energy corridor between Russia and Iran via Azerbaijan was one of the main issues discussed at the recent meeting of Russian and Iranian energy ministers in Moscow.

“Not a single word about Armenia, despite the fact that in 2016, Iran, Russia, and Armenia inked an intergovernmental agreement on the establishment of the North-South energy corridor,” he said.

The expert emphasized that Azerbaijan's consistent energy strategy, which has been in place since 2018, has already yielded significant benefits.

"The Armenian authorities' policy likewise produces such tangible (for Baku) consequences, posing no less tangible concerns to our national security," he added.

Zangazur corridor as starting point for communication

According to American scholar Paul Goble, Azerbaijan fulfilled the aim it set at the end of the Second Karabakh War, and Iran became the benefactor of the initiative rather than Armenia, which should only blame itself for what transpired.

He emphasized that, despite Armenia's comments about their willingness to establish dialogue, the initiative is still far from being accomplished.

“The Zangazur corridor promises considerable dividends and its launch is economically expedient for Armenia. But the Armenian government, probably because of the pressure of the revanchist-minded Armenian society, still refrains from the realization of the project. As a result, Azerbaijan implemented its plans through the territory of Iran and left Armenia out of the project, which has important geostrategic importance," he said.

As a result, the new communication methods across Iran ensure that Armenia's isolation will continue. The nation is still walled off from regional communications and initiatives, despite the fact that the Zangazur corridor would have allowed it to access the "great world."

The Zangazur corridor would be vital for Armenia both geoeconomically and geopolitically, as it would provide economic benefits and transit options while also assisting Armenia in breaking out of a regional impasse.

According to Armenian Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan, boosting communications in the area and lowering logistical costs can boost the competitiveness of Armenian exports and allow the Armenian economy to develop by 30 percent.

However it should be noted that the opening of communications for Armenia begins with the Zangazur corridor, and without the completion of this project, the opening of other connections is ruled out.

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Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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