Azerbaijan Eyes Unconstrained Transport Link to Nakhchivan via Armenia, Proposes Kaliningrad Model
In a recent interview with the German newspaper "Berliner Zeitung," Hikmet Hajiyev, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, outlined Azerbaijan's expectations regarding the connection of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (AR) to the main territory of Azerbaijan through Armenia. Hajiyev suggested a nuanced approach, stating that while customs and border control would be applied when goods are transported to the Nakhchivan AR, Armenia would oversee the process when goods move from Azerbaijan to a third country. Additionally, he expressed Azerbaijan's willingness to consider models similar to the Kaliningrad region.
The Kaliningrad model, proposed by Israeli specialist Mikhail Finkel in 2021, was cited by Hajiyev as a potential solution. The Kaliningrad region, an exclave of Russia, faced connectivity challenges with the main part of the country after the collapse of the USSR. The resolution involved an agreement with Lithuania, allowing visa-free transit through its territory. This transit arrangement facilitated the movement of cargo and gas to Kaliningrad while respecting Lithuania's sovereign control.
Armenian officials have not yet responded to Hajiyev's statements. However, Azerbaijan's interest in establishing a reliable transport link with Nakhchivan aligns with the provisions of the joint statement signed on November 10, 2020. Elshad Mirbashir Oglu Turan, a member of the Milli Majlis Committee on defense, security, and combating corruption, in an interview with Turan, emphasized Azerbaijan's readiness to open the Zangazur corridor, linking Nakhchivan with other Azerbaijani territories.
Mirbashir Oglu highlighted geopolitical aspects, citing the influence of certain states on Armenia, which has impeded progress in establishing regional communications. He suggested that Armenia initially sought to use the Zangazur corridor as leverage against Azerbaijan, but Azerbaijan, by signing an agreement with Iran, presented an alternative, limiting Armenia's maneuverability.
The political commentator Zardusht Alizadeh, in an interview with Radio Azadlig, emphasized varying positions on the operation mechanism of the road. He explained that Azerbaijan desires an uncontrollable passage of cargo to Nakhchivan, similar to the Kaliningrad model, without claiming control over the Zangazur road. This approach aims to facilitate economic benefits for both Azerbaijan and Armenia and could potentially open railway communication between Armenia and Russia.
Alizadeh noted discussions in Armenian media about this option, indicating its consideration by Armenian officials. He suggested that introducing a regime similar to the Kaliningrad model would allow for the smooth movement of cargo and passengers between Armenia and Azerbaijan, benefiting both nations.
While Russia's potential influence on the matter was acknowledged, Alizadeh believed that even if Russia disapproved, it might be unable to prevent such a solution due to its weakened influence in recent years. The proposal reflects Azerbaijan's strategic approach to regional cooperation and the pursuit of mutually beneficial solutions.