Azerbaijan. Khudafar's bridge

Azerbaijan. Khudafar's bridge

In Azerbaijan, the public, with surprise and indignation, accepted information about the actual secret conspiracy between official Baku and the unrecognized leadership of the Karabakh separatists on the construction of a bridge over the Araks (Araz) river. The bridge connected the shores of Iran and the occupied zone in the Jabrail region, since in 1992-93 the Armenian army went to the banks of the Araks River and entrenched there. Thus, having signed an agreement with Iran on the construction of this bridge in 2016, the Azerbaijani leadership allowed the Karabakh separatists to participate in an economic project on the legal territory of Azerbaijan.

An official statement on this subject says that the deputy foreign minister of Azerbaijan, Khalaf Khalafov, clarified the issue of construction of the Khudaferin and Giz Galasy hydroelectric power stations and hydroelectric power stations on the Araz River.

"On February 23, 2016, the governments of Azerbaijan and Iran signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of continued construction and operation of the Khudaferin and Giz Galasy hydroelectric power stations and hydropower plants on the Araz River, as well as in the field of energy and water resources use.

This agreement is based on the principles of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both states. In accordance with these principles, the Agreement emphasized the importance of restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in accordance with the requirements of UN resolutions. According to the agreement, the parties, supporting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests of both countries, carry out joint activities to continue the construction, as well as in connection with the operation of the Khudaferin and Giz Galasy hydropower plants and hydropower plants on the border river Araz,” Khalafov said.

The deputy minister said that the construction of bridges, which is covered in the press, should be considered in the framework of the implementation of the projects of hydroelectric power stations and hydroelectric stations Khudaferin and Giz Galasy.

“According to the Iranian embassy in Azerbaijan, the Iranian side perceives the part of the dams and bridges falling on the territory of Azerbaijan, within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. This is reflected in the above Agreement, and is approved by the parliaments of both countries and is legally binding.

Based on mutual trust, friendly and good-neighborly relations between Iran and Azerbaijan, we express confidence that these bridges serve precisely the implementation of the Khudaferin and Giz Galasy hydropower and hydropower projects,” Khalaf Khalafov said.

The statement of the deputy ministers leaves more questions than answers. How does Azerbaijan carry out joint construction with Iran on the territory where the foot of an Azerbaijani worker and engineer cannot step? What is the cooperation in the field of exploitation where the occupying army of Armenia operates?

Anar Mammadli, the head of the Elections Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) writes to the FB about this:

- There are many obscure points. As can be seen from the agreement of 2016 on the construction of two bridges near the Khudafarin Bridge on the Araz River, it does not indicate the geographical coordinates, in particular, the territory where the waterworks will be located.

It is clear from the text of the agreement that territories located in East Azerbaijan (Iran) will use electricity from the new hydroelectric power station. The Azerbaijani side can transfer its share of electricity to Nakhchivan.

This agreement is valid de jure. If Azerbaijan does not de facto control the northern part of Araz, why then does the Iranian side solve practical construction issues, etc. with Armenia, with Nagorno-Karabakh? The signed agreement prohibits the use of individuals and legal entities belonging to a third party. Who is the Armenian side in this case?

By agreement, the Azerbaijani side will pay part of the costs. Are the risks of construction in the territory that we do not control insured? If there is a war and the enemy shoots into the construction zone, who will compensate our losses? The agreement was signed in February 2016, and ratified in June. Then in April 2016 there were fights, one of the territories of military operations was the Jabrail region.  If tomorrow the Azerbaijani side starts military operations in this direction again, what will become of the agreement?

Why did Azerbaijani society learn about the agreement just now? The agreement was signed in 2016, and then the document was legalized and signed by the head of state. However, the active part of the society does not know about the agreement; there was no request for information from the Milli Majlis.

Mammadli considers it useful to build a hydroelectric complex in the region, where both the Iranian and the Azerbaijani sides of the river live in people who need irrigation water in agricultural work. There must be clear mechanisms that are not in the agreement. Especially when it comes to territory that we do not de facto control.

The publication of this agreement after 3 years shows that the society and the Milli Majlis do not own information, cannot exercise control over the executive branch in Azerbaijan. A. Mammadli calls the secret conclusion of an agreement on the territory controlled by the invader a tragedy.

Political scientist Elkhan Shainoglu, drawing attention to Iran’s statement on the availability of an Azerbaijani consent for construction, asks: why did Baku give permission to proceed to work where the occupiers are in charge?

Azerbaijanis regularly express indignation, and official Baku issues protest statements on economic relations between Iran and the Karabakh separatists, on the transport of goods to Karabakh from Iran over the bridge over Araz. At the same time, the Azerbaijani leadership signs a secret agreement on the territory on which the separatists operate, and the bridge was built with the consent of the government in Baku.

Khalaf Khalafov claims that the construction of a bridge over Araz should be considered in conjunction with the Khudaferin and Giz Galasy hydroelectric power stations. What is the connection between the bridge and the hydroelectric power station?

One of the signatories to the secret agreement is the former Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan, Shain Mustafayev. E. Shainoglu demands that the ex-minister give explanations to society. We add that during the presidency of Heydar Aliyev, the Iranian delegation arriving in Baku turned to H. Aliyev with a proposal to agree with this project. Then the president of Azerbaijan, indignant, silently left the negotiation room, leaving the Iranians in embarrassed silence. The public saw what was happening in the television report.

The same project was signed in 2016 by the government of President I. Aliyev, secretly from the public.

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