Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the president of Azerbaijan

BAKU — A senior Azerbaijani official has said that Baku is no longer in interested in a special corridor that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave through Armenia’s strategic Syunik province.

Since the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly demanded such a corridor and implicitly threatened to order his troops to open it forcibly. Armenia has rejected his demands while expressing readiness for conventional transport links between the two South Caucasus states.

Last month’s Azerbaijani military offensive in Karabakh raised more fears in Yerevan that Baku will also attack Armenia to open the exterritorial “Zangezur corridor.” A senior Armenian diplomat claimed on October 8 that an Azerbaijani attack on Syunik may be “a matter of weeks.”

Aliyev’s top foreign policy aide, Hikmet Hajiyev, denied this in an interview with Politico published late on Wednesday. He said that the corridor “has lost its attractiveness for us” and that Baku is now planning to “do this with Iran instead.”

“Our agenda was only about building transport linkages and connectivity through the framework of bilateral engagement,” said Hajiyev. “If this is the case, yes, but if not then OK. It’s still on the table but it will require from the Armenian side to show they’re really interested in that.”

Earlier this month, Azerbaijani and Iranian officials broke ground on a new road that will link Nakhichevan to mainland Azerbaijan via Iranian territory adjacent to Syunik. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk, who has mediated numerous Armenian-Azerbaijani talks on transport links, was reported to say on Thursday that Baku and Tehran have also agreed to build a similar rail link bypassing Armenia.

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