BAKU — Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday reiterated Baku’s renewed demands for Armenia to open an extraterritorial corridor to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave.
“Otherwise, Armenia will remain at a dead end forever,” he said in televised remarks. “If the route I mentioned is not opened, then we do not intend to open the border with Armenia anywhere else. So they will get more harm than good from that.”
“People and goods should pass from Azerbaijan to Azerbaijan without any checks,” added Aliyev.
He pointed to a clause in the 2020 ceasefire agreement that commits Armenia to opening rail and road links between Nakhichevan and the rest of Azerbaijan through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering Iran.
The Armenian government has said all along that Azerbaijani passengers and cargo cannot be exempt from Armenian border controls. It insists on conventional transport links between the two South Caucasus states.
Iran also strongly opposes the so-called “Zangezur corridor” sought by Aliyev. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reaffirmed Tehran’s stance when he met with a visiting Azerbaijani official in October.
Aliyev’s top foreign policy adviser, Hikmet Hajiyev, said later in October that the corridor “has lost its attractiveness for us” and that Baku is now planning to “do this with Iran instead.” But he clearly backtracked on that statement in a newspaper interview published last week.
Baku renewed its demands for the corridor following what Azerbaijani and Armenian officials described as progress made towards the signing of a bilateral peace treaty. Earlier on Wednesday, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan spoke of “regression” in the latest Azerbaijani proposals on the treaty sent to Yerevan last month. Mirzoyan indicated that Baku is reluctant to explicitly recognize Armenia’s borders through the peace deal.
Aliyev also rejected Yerevan’s insistence on international “guarantors” of the two sides’ compliance with such a deal. “We don’t need guarantors,” he told Azerbaijani television.