Who is building an alternative road to the Lachin corridor?
Lachin corridor alternative
A photograph of the construction of a bridge across the Khakari River appeared on the Azerbaijani segment of social media. This bridge is said to be part of an alternative road to the Lachin Corridor. This corridor connects Armenia with part of Karabakh, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed. But who is building this road?
- Op-ed: will Russian peacekeepers leave Karabakh?
- Russian Foreign Ministry intervenes in diplomatic scandal between Azerbaijan and France
- Within hand’s reach, but miles apart: Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the post-war Karabakh
Azerbaijani military observer Adalet Verdiyev posted a photo on his Facebook page showing the construction of a bridge across the Khakari River in the Lachin region.
The author claims that the road under construction will become an alternative to the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Armenia with part of Karabakh, where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily stationed.
However, the author does not indicate which side started the construction of this bridge.
According to the information provided by Adalet Verdiyev, an alternative road to the Lachin corridor will start in the village of Kornidzor in the Syunik region of Armenia, pass through the village of Gaygy in the Lachin region of Azerbaijan, and then run between the mountains to the city of Khankendi [Armenians call this city Stepanakert – JAMnews].
The construction of an alternative road to the Lachin corridor is stipulated by the terms of the tripartite statement, which put an end to the second Karabakh war.
What does the tripartite statement say?
Paragraph 6 of the tripartite statement dated November 10, 2020, signed by the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as the Prime Minister of Armenia, states:
“The Republic of Armenia returns the Kelbajar region to the Republic of Azerbaijan until November 15, 2020, and the Lachin region until December 1, 2020. The Lachin corridor (five kilometers long), which will provide a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia and at the same time will not affect the city of Shusha, remains under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation.
By agreement of the Parties, in the next three years, a plan will be determined for the construction of a new traffic route along the Lachin corridor, providing a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, with the subsequent redeployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to protect this route.
The Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the safety of movement of citizens, vehicles and goods along the Lachin corridor in both directions”.
Who is building the new road?
“The bridge is being built by Azerbaijani companies”, said military observer Adalet Verdiyev.
According to him, Azerbaijan undertook the construction of a new road connecting Armenia with Khankendi within three years, and the parties agreed to the following condition:
“Construction of the bridge over the Hakari River did not start right now. But taking into account the fact that Armenia dragged on the issue of the Zangezur corridor [this is how Azerbaijan calls the road through the territory of Armenia, which will connect the main part of Azerbaijan with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic – JAMnews], construction work was suspended. Now it has resumed”.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Tofig Zulfugarov, has a different opinion. According to him, the construction is carried out by Russian peacekeepers.
“The Russian contingent will justify this construction by the fact that they need a new road for better coordination of peacekeeping operations. Or they will refer to the poor condition of the old bridge, partially destroyed during the second Karabakh war”, Zulfugarov said.
“In any case, Azerbaijan will eventually get this road and bridge. Let them build it. Of course, Karabakh Armenians will also use them, but already as part of Azerbaijan”, the ex-Foreign Minister added.
What are the benefits of the new road for Azerbaijan?
JAMnews asked Azeri political observer Agshin Karimov to comment on the reported construction of an alternative road to the Lachin corridor.
“So far, it is difficult to verify the accuracy of the information disseminated. Only the governments of the countries that signed the tripartite statement of November 10, 2020 can answer this accurately.
But the idea of building an alternative road to the Lachin corridor is not a new initiative, this is stated in the sixth paragraph of the document signed by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
What advantages is Azerbaijan trying to achieve through this? It must be taken into account that due to the passage of the Lachin corridor right through the city of Lachin, part of the Russian peacekeeping force is deployed in this very regional center.
One of the goals of building an alternative road is to ensure that it does not pass through Lachin. Thus, Azerbaijan will be able to evacuate the peacekeepers from the city. But this does not mean the expulsion of the peacekeeping contingent, the Russian military will only move closer to the new road.
In any case, the alternative road may contain elements of reducing the area of movement of peacekeepers and their complete expulsion from the region in the future.
So far, only one thing is clear: the new corridor will not pass through the city of Lachin”, Karimov said.