President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan complained to Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi that for that past three years Armenia has refused to guarantee a road through its sovereign territory to Nakhichevan, referencing his scheme to carve a “corridor” through Armenia.
“During the last three years, after the second Karabakh war, Armenia has refused and continues to refuse to abide by its obligations and ensure passage to Nakhchivan through the major part of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said, the Trend news agency reported.
“It is their [Armenia’s] choice and I think they made a huge mistake,” Aliyev said during a meeting with Raisi in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The Azerbaijani leader emphasized that Iran has announced the construction of bridges over the Arax River, which he said “has great potential.”
Last month Azerbaijani officials said that a “corridor” through Armenia had “lost its appeal,” announcing that Baku has opted to create a link to Nakhichevan through Iran.
Despite this announcement, however, Azerbaijani officials, as well as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continue to press Armenia to move forward with the project, which Yerevan unequivocally has rejected.
Yerevan has called the so-called “Zangezur Corridor” scheme a territorial claim by Azerbaijan.
Iran has also voiced its opposition to any effort that would alter the existing borders in the region and, in the past, has rebuked Ankara and Baku for advancing the “corridor” scheme.
“We carried out an anti-terror operation in September, which put an end to separatism in Azerbaijan. It paved the way for more active development of Azerbaijan and creates a favorable environment for the entire region,” Aliyev told Raisi.
“I am happy that as a result of the joint work of the representatives of Iran and Azerbaijan, an agreement for the construction of a railway and a highway along the southern bank of the Arax River was achieved,” Aliyev said, expressing confidence that this project “will be implemented in a short time and will become another direction of the North-South transport corridor.”
“In other words, as a result, we will have two routes, one through Astara, one through Aghbend, and both routes will serve to strengthen the fraternal relations between Iran and Azerbaijan, and will be accessible to our neighbors and partners from other countries,” the Azerbaijani leader added.
Aliyev and Raisi also discussed the regional alliance project know as the “3+3” format, which envisions an alliance between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Turkey that would bolster economic relations and allow for settling of conflicts without Western interference.
A summit of foreign ministers of the “3+3” countries was held in Tehran last month. Georgia has announced that it would not take part in the scheme, because of its decades-long enmity with Russia. Armenia, on the other hand, has decided to engage in talks to advance this formula.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry on Friday accused Armenia of “endangering” the peace process between the two countries and criticized Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan of spreading “fake rhetoric and accusations” against Baku in international forums.
Speaking at a UNESCO summit on Thursday, Mirzoyan accused Azerbaijan of blockading Artsakh for ten months as part of its state sponsored ethnic cleansing.
“It is unacceptable that Armenia, which committed mass murders and crimes against humanity during almost 30 years of military aggression against Azerbaijan, continues to hypocritically accuse Azerbaijan of ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Armenians who voluntarily went to Armenia,” Aikhan Hajizade, the spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry, said in a statement.