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What makes Zangazur so important to West and Russia? - interesting comment from Russian expert

20 May 2023 [08:30] - TODAY.AZ

By Rena Murshud

Deputy head of the press service of the US State Department, Vedant Patel, said that the US supports direct dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia, regardless of the platform on which the negotiations are conducted.

Commenting on the meeting of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, which is planned to be held in Moscow on May 25, the US official said that "direct negotiations between the parties are of fundamental importance regardless of whether they take place in Arlington, Brussels or Moscow".

In fact, these words of Patel can also be interpreted as the United States' exclusion of Russia from the foreground in the Azerbaijan-Armenia issue.

As for the reality, the only mediator in solving the Azerbaijan-Armenia relations is the parties themselves. However, for some reason, Armenia relies on the West and sometimes Russia to solve the problem, whose main goal is not Armenia, but the realization of the Zangazur Corridor.

If we follow the processes, we can see that there is a serious competition running between Russia and the West for brokering in the processes of negotiations between the two countries. This is also related to the fate of the Zangazur corridor, which is important for communication as well as transport, as mentioned earlier.

Speaking to Azernews, Russian political analyst, head of the PolitRUS portal Vitaly Arkov first commented on knotty issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the opening the Zangazur corridor.

"Despite the sound assurances of Baku that it is not about the extraterritoriality of the Zangazur corridor, in Yerevan, where they themselves are used to not following their words and promises, they express doubts that in the future Azerbaijan will not expand the corridor through the territory of the Meghri to the current Armenian Iranian border. Armenia's main fear is to lose its border with Iran, and it realizes that when Zangazur corridor opens it will find itself in the "Azerbaijani-Turkish" ring, without access to both Iran and the conventional border with Azerbaijan," the political analyst said.

Regarding the security of the Zangazur corridor, the expert emphasized that it is feasible through controlling by Azerbaijan as anti-Azerbaijan sentiment is high in Yerevan. However, according to the expert, the Iranian factor is an unavoidbale obstacle here.

"The Zangazur corridor is important for Azerbaijan. Both from logistical and political point of views. However, in the context of the ongoing tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Yerevan cannot objectively guarantee the complete safety of the movement of goods and people along the transport artery. Azerbaijan's taking upon itself the issue of ensuring the security of the Zangazur corridor causes completely predictable fears, firstly, in Armenia itself and, secondly, in neighboring Iran," Arkov said.

As for Iran's contradictory position regarding Zangazur, the Russian expert commented on it as follows:

"I think Iran actively opposes the Zangazur corridor. Firstly, even without the extraterritoriality of this transport route, this will complicate non-transparent contacts between Tehran and Yerevan. Secondly, the launch of the project will allow Azerbaijan to abandon the forced land transit with Nakhichevan (and further Turkiye) through Iranian territory, which will deprive Tehran of one of the levers of pressure on Baku; now the regime in Iran is actively using it. Thirdly, this will significantly strengthen the positions in the region of both Azerbaijan and Turkiye," the expert added.

The expert also added that Zangazur is the most important point for the West. However, according to Arkov, the West alone is not capable of neutralizing both Armenia and Iran.

"I think that Russia, which is closer to the region, can be a more decisive party in this matter. Also, peacekeeping units are currently operating in Karabakh. I believe that Russian peacekeepers can control the opening of the Zangezur Corridor together with Azerbaijan. Also, the presence of peacekeepers there will have a positive impact on relations with Iran at least keeping in a neutral state," the expert concluded.

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