Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated on Monday that this remains one of Ankara’s conditions for normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are to reopen their border to commercial and passenger traffic under the terms of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped their six-week war for Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has claimed that the deal calls for a permanent overland link for Nakhichevan passing through Armenia’s Syunik province. Aliyev said last December that passage through the “Zangezur corridor” must be exempt from Armenian border controls, meaning that it would have the same status as the existing Lachin corridor connecting Karabakh to Armenia.
Cavusoglu echoed Baku’s demands after attending a meeting of foreign ministers of Turkic countries, including Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan states that Lachin and Zangezur must have the same status. Those projects must be implemented,” he said.
Armenia has repeatedly ruled out ceding its territory for such a corridor, saying that the Russian-brokered deal calls for only conventional transport links between the two South Caucasus countries.
Late last month, Russia signaled support for the Armenian government’s position on the issue. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk said a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force working on the planned transport links has never discussed “any ‘extraterritorial corridor’ that would infringe the sovereignty of any of the parties in any way.”
Neighboring Iran is also opposed to the corridor sought by Ankara and Baku, fearing a loss of its common border with Armenia. Syunik is the sole Armenian region bordering the Islamic Republic.
Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian apparently failed to bridge their differences on the matter at their October 6 meeting in Prague also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and the European Union’s top official, Charles Michel.
Pashinian also held in the Czech capital a first-ever meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. No concrete agreements were announced by them as a result.
Erdogan and other Turkish leaders have repeatedly indicated that the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations is contingent on Armenia accepting Azerbaijan’s key demands. Cavusoglu effectively reaffirmed this stance on Monday.
The chief Turkish diplomat at the same time praised what he described as Yerevan’s positive response to the key terms of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty put forward by Baku.
“The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers are now working on the peace treaty, but that process should not be dragged out,” he said.