Addressing army officers in the key Azerbaijani-controlled Karabakh town of Susa (Shushi) on November 8, a day that Azerbaijan marks as Victory Day in the 2020 war, Aliyev referred to one of the terms of a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement that put an end to a six-week war between the two South Caucasus nations over the Nagorno-Karabakh region two years ago.
He stressed that providing the “Zangezur corridor” is Armenia’s commitment that it must fulfill.
“For two years we have not prohibited vehicles from going from Armenia to Karabakh and back along the Lachin road. We are committed to our commitment to free movement. Armenia also undertook to provide a road connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. Two years have passed, but there is still no feasibility study [for the road project], no progress, no railroad, no automobile road. How long do we have to wait?” Aliyev said, as quoted by Azerbaijani media.
Responding to previous similar demands for what Azerbaijan expects to be an extraterritorial corridor via Armenia’s southern Syunik province also commonly known in both countries as Zangezur, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has insisted that Armenia must maintain sovereignty over any routes passing through its territory.
Stressing that Armenia is interested in the general unblocking of transport links in the region, the Armenian leader has said that unlike it is in the case with the Lachin corridor the 2020 Moscow-brokered ceasefire does not require any extraterritoriality for routes via Armenia.
Reacting to Aliyev’s statement, Eduard Aghajanian, head of the foreign-relations committee in the Armenian parliament, said on Tuesday that Armenia has never assumed any obligation to provide an extraterritorial corridor to Azerbaijan. He reiterated official Yerevan’s position that this is a “red line” for Armenia. “Our position has never changed on this issue and will never change,” the senior lawmaker stressed.
In August, Armenia offered to open three checkpoints at its border with Azerbaijan for automobile traffic to and from Nakhichevan, stressing that the routes would operate under Armenian legislation. Baku rejected the offer, citing unsuitable terrain and climate conditions of the offered roads. It insisted instead on a route through the southern part of Syunik where a railway operated in Soviet times.
In his today’s remarks the Azerbaijani leader also insisted that Armenia must honor another commitment under the 2020 deal and withdraw its troops from the Karabakh territory.
“What are the Armenian armed forces doing in Karabakh? Our patience is not infinite. And I want to once again warn that if this obligation is not fulfilled, Azerbaijan will take the necessary steps,” Aliyev warned, without elaborating.
Armenia insists that currently it has no troops in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh where about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers are deployed, and that the terms of the 2020 ceasefire did not require any disarmament among the local ethnic Armenian militia known as the defense army.
Aliyev insisted at the end of his speech that Azerbaijan wants peace. His comments came shortly after another round of talks focused on a peace deal between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, that was hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington.
In his November 7 remarks before proceeding to talks behind closed doors, Blinken praised Armenia and Azerbaijan for taking “courageous steps” toward peace.