Azerbaijan to build one of the longest tunnels in the world to bypass Nagorno-Karabakh
Murovdag tunnel in Kalbajar region
One of the longest tunnels in the world will be built on the highway that will connect the city of Ganja with Kalbajar. It will pass under the Murovdag ridge. Why did Azerbaijan need a several-kilometers-long tunnel to Kalbajar, and for what reason is it being built to bypass Nagorno-Karabakh? According to the expert, an alternative road never hurts, but there are also serious questions.
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After the end of the second Karabakh war and the return of the Kelbajar region under the control of Azerbaijan, the question of communication with this region arose.
Before the start of the Karabakh conflict, the only road to Kalbajar ran through the Aghdere (Mardakert) region. Later, the Azerbaijani authorities abolished this region and administratively it joined with the Terter region. The road through Agdere (Mardakert) still exists, but it passes through part of Karabakh, where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is stationed.
The northern, much more difficult road to Kalbajar runs through the Murovdag Range and is almost impassable in winter.
11 kilometers long tunnel
August 16, 2021, i.e. nine months after the end of the 44-day war, the foundation was laid for the tunnel – part of the road that will connect the city of Ganja (the second most important city in Azerbaijan) with Kalbajar.
The length of the tunnel will be 11,658 meters, and according to the Azerbaijani authorities, it will become one of the longest road tunnels in the world.
The tunnel is planned to be commissioned in 2025.
Why does Azerbaijan need this tunnel?
According to expert Nazim Gamidov, the very construction of this tunnel and the year it was put into operation raise several questions at once.
“Let’s be honest, a tunnel under a mountain with a length of almost 12 kilometers requires huge material investments. In other words, for Azerbaijan it is not a matter of image, or something else, there were simply no other options.
If you look at the map, on the western side, the Kelbajar region borders Armenia. From the south, with the Lachin region, which also returned under the control of Azerbaijan. But in the Lachin region, there is a corridor 5 kilometers wide connecting Armenia with Khankendi (Stepanakert). It is also problematic with the eastern side – the old road runs through the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers.
Only the northern direction remains for unhindered communication. But…
The tunnel will be put into operation only in 2025. As we remember, the period of stay of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh expires in the same year. Official Baku has already stated several times from the lips of various persons close to the government that it will not renew the agreement with Moscow on the continuation of the peacekeeping mission. And the agreement of November 10, 2020 has not yet been ratified by the country’s parliament. If you follow the law, the peacekeepers are illegally on the territory of Azerbaijan recognized by the whole world.
But here we have a multi-million dollar tunnel construction project, which could not have been built if we were sure that by 2025 Baku would have unhindered access to the road through Agdere to Kalbajar. Apparently, there is no such certainty. But in any case, the second – an alternative road will not hurt anyone.
As for the statements about one of the longest tunnels in the world, the Murovdag tunnel is not even included in the first hundred of the longest. If taken on a global scale. But undoubtedly, this is a huge project on a regional scale,” Hamidov said.