TEHRAN — Iran reiterated its strong opposition to “geopolitical changes” in the South Caucasus on Monday after a Turkish government minister said that an extraterritorial corridor connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave and Turkey through Armenia should be opened by 2029.
“We are making a lot of efforts to establish peace, stability, and security in the regional countries,” Nasser Kanaani, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying. “We emphasize that developing transit cooperation cannot be a basis for geopolitical changes and violation of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of countries.”
Kanaani responded to weekend comments by Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu about the so-called “Zangezur corridor.” Uraloglu said that Turkey and Azerbaijan are now building their respective sections of the highway and railway that would pass through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering Iran.
“The whole process of creating this corridor will take five years. So I think that we will complete all work in 2028,” he added, according to Turkish media.
Iran has repeatedly warned against attempts to strip it of the common border and transport links with Armenia. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reportedly told a visiting Azerbaijani official in October 2023 that the corridor sought by Baku is “resolutely opposed by Iran.”
The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei likewise made this clear to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when they met in Tehran in 2022. Erdogan complained about Iran’s stance on the issue after visiting Baku a year later. He claimed that unlike Tehran, Yerevan does not object to the idea of the “Zangezur corridor.” The Armenian government has rejected the Azerbaijani and Turkish demands on numerous occasions.
A senior Azerbaijani official, Hikmet Hajiyev, said last October that the corridor “has lost its attractiveness for us” and that Baku is now planning to “do this with Iran instead.” But he appeared to backtrack on that statement in a newspaper interview published last week. Hajiyev said that the planned construction of a new road and railway connecting Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan via Iran does not mean that Azerbaijan has abandoned the idea of “Zangezur corridor.”
Hajiyev confirmed that Baku wants to make sure that people and cargos travelling to and from Nakhichevan are not checked by Armenian border guards or customs officers. He claimed that this would not violate Armenia’s territorial integrity.