November 29, 2023

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Why Armenia fears that the south of the country will be favored by Azerbaijan

Why Armenia fears that the south of the country will be favored by Azerbaijan

President Ilham Aliev has long favored the Syunik region, backed by Turkey. For their part, Armenia’s allies don’t seem to be all on the same wavelength.

Will Azerbaijan go further? from Baku’s victory over Nagorno-Karabakh has residents of southern Armenia fearing that the Syunik region is now in President Ilham Aliyev’s sights. Such regional continuity will further strengthen the ties between Azerbaijan and Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also celebrated from Nakhchivan “victory” In Nagorno-Karabakh of His close associate, watching “New Opportunities” to the region. Franceinfo explains to you why anxiety is growing in Yerevan.

Because Azerbaijan wants to annex its territory to Nakhichevan

For a century, Azerbaijan has owned Nakhchivan, a mountainous region that has no continuity with the rest of the country and is sandwiched between Armenia, Turkey and Iran. In 1921, Stalin transformed it into an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, before annexing it to Azerbaijan in 1923. the cross. The territory covers an area of ​​more than 5,500 km2 and is mainly populated by Azeris.

Azerbaijan wants to build a land route with a nickname "Jangujur Corridor", in order to connect Nachiyar to the country.  (Héloise Kropp / France Info)

President Azerbaijani, Ilham Aliyev has always called for a land route through Armenia to reach Nakhchivan. After Baku’s victory in the 2020 war between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, the two countries agreed on the principle of this route. According to Armistice Agreement, established through the mediation of Russia, Armenia promises to guarantee transit security under the control of Russian authorities. However, the deal angered thousands of Armenian demonstrators, who saw it as a capitulation of their leaders.

The corridor is currently in the planning stage, and Ilham Aliyev wants it to have an extraterrestrial status. Therefore, goods and people circulating in the country will not be subject to Armenian law. “For Armenians, this will be the beginning of the end, because they will be surrounded by deadly enemies and cut off from the border with Iran.”Tigrane Yégavian, a researcher in international relations and an expert on the region, warned franceinfo in mid-September.

However, an attack on Baku in southern Armenia to establish this route by force “Looks unlikely in the future”According to Armin Markarian, former head of Armenia’s Security Council. Azerbaijan is then at risk of conflict with the West. “After the invasion of Ukraine, the West expressed its strong hostility against violations of respect for territorial integrity.” she recalled the cross.

Because Turkey supports Azerbaijan’s ambitions

Turkey, a major ally of Baku in the region, is particularly favorable to the corridor project. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ilham Aliyev met in Nakhchivan on September 25, five days after the Azerbaijani offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh. The two leaders will officially inaugurate the construction of an 85 km gas pipeline between eastern Turkey and Nakhchivan and inaugurate a military complex. But according to Turkish media cited by AFP, they are also set to discuss the opening of the “Zangesur Corridor”, named after the mountain range that forms a natural border between Naksivan and the Armenian province of Syunik.

Its route passes through the town of Makri, south of Armenia, on the border with Iran. After the 2020 war, Armenians were already worried about the fate of this place. “If we abandon Artsakh [le nom du Haut-Karabakh pour les Arméniens]We will leave Macri, then Yerevan”A statement at the time said it warned the head of the Armenian National Assembly by French diplomacy (PDF). Today, the city’s residents feel threatened, and some say they are willing to take up arms to defend themselves.

For Ankara, in addition to strengthening economic exchanges with Baku, the corridor will allow it to extend its influence to all Turkic states whose languages ​​share the same roots as Turkish. Apart from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and even part of western China are forming. France Inter.

“No one knows exactly what this corridor will look like, but observers fear that the junction will be created by connecting Southern Armenia, Syunik region.Taline Ter Minassian, an expert on post-Soviet states and a teacher at the National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations, laments to franceinfo. It would be a terrible scene, a massive violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity. Military aggression in particular would weaken Azerbaijan’s position in the Western-led peace process with Armenia.”

Because Armenia’s allies are divided on how much support to offer

Faced with this threat, Armenia’s allies say they are ready to support it, but without real unity. “France is very conscious of Armenia’s territorial integrity because that is what is at stake” Emmanuel Macron promised in a televised interview on September 24. French diplomatic chief Catherine Colonna visited Yerevan, Paris announced on Tuesday. “Consented” To provide military equipment to Armenia to strengthen its defense against Azerbaijan.

America is still shy. “For now, we are very focused on the humanitarian situation,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday, AFP quoted.

For its part, Russia, though a historical ally of Yerevan, is gradually distancing itself from Armenia. The latter accuses it of abandoning Nagorno-Karabakh without ensuring its security as provided for in the 2020 ceasefire agreement. “Inevitable”Vladimir Putin ruled on Thursday, while noting that Armenia “ever” Friend of Moscow.

Only Iran, home to a large Azeri minority (in the country’s north), strongly opposes a corridor project in Armenia’s south. Tehran is wary of nationalist aspirations to create a “Greater Azerbaijan”. He recalled the crossIran instead proposes a route that runs within its borders and is under its control.

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