Monday, January 15, 2024

Neither Ankara Nor Baku Will Ever Give Up on a Zengezur Corridor, Senior Armenian Turcologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 12 – Ruben Safrastyan, Armenia’s senior specialist on Turkey, says that neither Ankara nor Baku will give up plans to open rail and highway traffic through Armenia’s Syunik Oblast which the Turkic states call the Zengezur corridor and that because that is so, Yerevan must do everything it can to ensure that this route won’t be used against Armenia.

            In an interview with Yerevan’s Iravunk portal, the Armenian Turcologist says that securing the Zengezur corridor is “a strategic coal of Turkey” because if it gains that, it will be able to expand Turkish influence into Central Asia and make Turkey into a key regional power ( reposted at

            No Armenian should be fooled into thinking that Baku will be satisfied with an Iranian route between Azerbaijan and its exclave Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan may be willing to make that a tactical goal, but Turkey is never going to be satisfied with that given its geopolitical competition with Iran and the likelihood Tehran would use its control over such a route against Ankara.

            And because Turkey takes that view, Safrastyan says, Baku will follow sooner or later. Consequently, the opening of the Syunik/Zengezur corridor is something that Armenia must plan for and take steps so that neither Baku nor Ankara will be able to use it against the national interests of the Republic of Armenia.

            That means, among other things, that Yerevan must insist on sovereignty over any corridor and that it must reject all calls to allow traffic of any kind to pass through what is Armenia territory without checking by the Armenian authorities and the coordination of its use of other corridors in support of Armenian interests.

            Three things make Safrastyan’s comments significant. First, it is one of the clearest indications yet that Yerevan now recognizes that it is going to have to allow for the opening of a Zengezur corridor and wants to do what it can to ensure that doing so will not undermine its national security.

            Second, it indicates that Yerevan places far less hope in an alternative route through Iran than do many in the West. And third, it means that fighting over the details of what Armenian supervision of the Zengezur corridor is likely to heat up the closer Yerevan and Baku come to solving the other disputes between them. 

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