Tehran Said to be Pushing for Corridor via Iran
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey again preconditioned the normalization of relations between his country and Armenia with Yerevan’s acceptance of a land corridor connecting Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan. Meanwhile, a top Armenian diplomat warned on an imminent invasion by Azerbaijan to fulfill its goal of establishing the so-called “Zangezur Corridor.”
“If Armenia honors it commitments, specifically the opening of the ‘Zangezur’ corridor then Turkey will step-by-step normalize relations,” Erdogan reportedly told his cabinet on Monday, demanding that Armenia adopt a policy of peace and development, the Turan news agency reported.
Armenia’s Ambassador to the European Union Tigran Balayan warned on Monday that Azerbaijan may attack Armenia in the coming weeks to open a land corridor to Nakhichevan unless the West imposes sanctions on Baku.
“We are now under imminent threat of invasion into Armenia because if [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev is not confronted with very practical steps taken by the so-called collective West, then he has no reason or incentive to limit himself to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Balayan told BrusselsSignal.eu.
“He and some of his Turkish counterparts have declared that they need to open a land corridor through Armenia’s sovereign territory,” said Balayan.
Asked just how imminent the attack is, he said: “I think if bold steps are not taken, it’s a matter of weeks.”
The EU and the United States voiced strong support for Armenia’s territorial integrity following the latest escalation in Karabakh. But they signaled no sanctions against Azerbaijan, which is becoming a major supplier of natural gas to Europe.
Balayan suggested that the sanctions include price caps on Azerbaijani oil and gas imported by the EU. He said the 27-nation bloc should also suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Baku if the latter refuses to withdraw troops from Armenian territory seized in 2021 and 2022.
Last month Armenian leaders, including Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, warned of Azerbaijani troop build-up on its border with Armenia and the line-of-contact in Artsakh. With no international partner heeding the warning, Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh on September 19 forcing the depopulation of the region as more than 100,000 Artsakh residents fled to Armenia.
That attack has raised concerns that Azerbaijan will make good on its promise to create the corridor by force.
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan “reminded” European Council President Charles Michel during a phone call over the weekend that Armenia allegedly is “occupying eight Azerbaijani villages,” without specifically referencing the villages.
Tehran also has vocally and strongly opposed changing of the current borders in the region with the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff saying that such a change would give NATO a “foothold” in the region.
Yet Tehran is posturing to create the land corridor through Iran telling Baku that it is willing to discuss such an opportunity. Aliyev has also announced that his country will construct a road and a railway that pass through the shared Arax river and its bridge.
So a groundbreaking ceremony for a bridge over the Arax river that will connect Iran with Azerbaijan was seen by many as the start of the process to move away from the Zangezur Corridor plan and toward a link via Iran.
However, Erdogan’s statements on Monday, coupled with his meeting with Aliyev in Nakhichevan days after Azerbaijan’s invasion of Artsakh, signal that Baku and Ankara intend to press for —if not forcibly take — Armenian sovereign territory for such a corridor.