Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday stressed the importance of opening the Zangezur corridor land route in southern Caucasus.
“Hopefully, we will realize the Zangezur corridor as soon as possible and make our road and rail communication with friendly and brotherly Azerbaijan uninterrupted through Nakhchivan,” Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.
The remarks come a day after his visit to Azerbaijan’s autonomous Nakhchivan exclave, where he met his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev to discuss bilateral relations, regional and international developments, particularly the recent situation in Karabakh.
“We hope to turn our region into a basin of peace and prosperity through joint projects that will include our neighbor Iran,” he added.
The Zangezur region was originally part of Azerbaijan, though the Soviets gave it to Armenia in the 1920s, leaving Azerbaijan deprived of a direct overland route to its exclave of Nakhchivan.
Following its 44-day war with Armenia in fall 2020, Azerbaijan has focused on infrastructure including motorways and a 43-kilometer (26.7-mile) railway through the corridor.
The corridor would be near or adjacent to Armenia’s border with Iran, reportedly making Tehran concerned the project might cut off its frontier with Yerevan.
Earlier, Erdogan said opening of the corridor is a “strategic issue” for Trkiye, and is “very important” for ties between Ankara and Baku.
‘Precautions taken to prevent civilians from being harmed’
About the recent “anti-terror activities” of Azerbaijan in Karabakh, Erdogan said: “We were all proud of the success of the operation carried out by the Azerbaijani army against terrorist elements in Karabakh.”
Last week, in the wake of provocations by Armenian forces in Karabakh, Azerbaijan said it had launched “counter-terrorism” activities in the region to uphold a 2020 trilateral peace agreement with Russia and Armenia. After 24 hours, a cease-fire was reached.
Erdogan also hailed the humanitarian attitude of Azerbaijani army towards the Armenians in Karabakh, “despite all the suffering, oppression and massacres Azerbaijan experienced for 30 years.”
“All necessary precautions were taken to prevent civilians from being harmed during the operation,” he said, adding that Trkiye has not hesitated to do its part to ensure lasting peace in the region.
Relations between Baku and Yerevan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes.
The war ended that November with a Russia-brokered cease-fire, and thus began a process for normalization.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan are expected to meet on Oct. 5 in the Spanish city of Granada to discuss the signing of a bilateral peace treaty.
Source: Anadolu Agency