ISSN 2330-717X

Armenia Deliberately Threatening Regional Cooperation – OpEd

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On September 27, the armed forces of Armenia again committed large-scale provocations against the positions of the Azerbaijan Army along the entire length of the front. Azerbaijani positions have been subjected to the intensive shelling from large-caliber weapons, mortars, and artillery mounts of various calibers.

As a result of these provocations some civilians were killed and wounded and serious damage was caused to civilian infrastructure in Gapanly village of Terter region, the Chiragli and Orta Gervend villages of Aghdam region, the Alkhanli and Shukurbeyli villages of Fizuli region, and the Jojug Marjanli village of Jabrayil region.

In order to suppress the military strikes of the armed forces of Armenia and to ensure the safety of the civilian population Azerbaijani Army launched counter-offensive operation. As a result of successful implementation of this operation a number of occupied villages, strategic heights and advantageous areas were liberated.

In the Fizuli and Jabrayil regions seven villages which have been under the enemy occupation for many years, were also liberated. Also, Armenian posts located in the direction of occupied Aghdara region and on the heights of Murov Mount range were destroyed and a number of important high grounds were taken under control.

It is worth to recall that Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began in the late 1980s, with Armenia’s territorial claims against Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Taking advantage of the political and economic instability that Azerbaijan was facing after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Armenia, initiated large-scale combat operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Until the 1994, when the ceasefire was established, Armenia occupied twenty percent of Azerbaijani territories and about one million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDP’s.

Since then Armenia continued its occupational policy towards Azerbaijan and failed to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions which call for withdrawal of the occupying forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan. However, by continuing its occupation Armenia poses threat not only to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity but also to the regional stability and cooperation.

In recent years, implemented transport projects in the region strengthened transformed it into the transportation hub where both the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TCITR) and the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) intersect.

One of these projects the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) that was mostly financed by Azerbaijan and implemented with the cooperation of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey is the shortest link in the overland transit of goods from Asia to Europe, and vice versa.

Using BTK, cargos could be shipped from China to Europe only in 12 days. Another important project is the Baku International Sea Trade Port which was constructed on the Azerbaijani coast of the Caspian Sea and will become the biggest port in this area.

Via this port, cargos coming from Asia will be able to directly connect to the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars railway and reach Europe in less than a week. Owing to the great advantages of its location, the new port will become the largest transportation and logistics center in the Caspian basin.

Regional countries also cooperate on Digital Silk Road project which will turn the region to the digital hub. Within the framework of Digital Silk Road Azerbaijan already signed agreement both with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan for laying a trans-Caspian fiber-optic cable across the bottom of the Caspian Sea.

Implementation of these projects will transform South Caucasus to cyber-service center that will connect the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia and will improve access of 1.8 billion people to the various digital services.

As all these projects increase the importance of this region in the Eurasian connectivity, and instead of contributing to the regional projects and benefiting from them Armenia opted for self-isolation.

Due to military posture of Armenia its borders with Azerbaijan and the Turkey remains closed for more than 27 years, which prevents it from joining the regional projects. This is detrimental to Armenia itself and shows that the country has become an instrument of third parties which are interested in continuation of Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and deterioration of regional cooperation.

Armenia’s inability to pursue an independent policy increases its political and economic dependence on third parties. By choosing this path Armenia considerably impedes its own economic development which leads to substantial social, financial and demographic problems.

Losing the opportunities from regional cooperation and regional projects Armenia jealously endeavors to hinder regional cooperation by trying to aggravate the military situation in the region.

Recent provocations of Armenia against Azerbaijan also serve this purpose. However, strong military capabilities of Azerbaijan enable it not only to stop Armenian provocations but also to liberate its occupied territories and protect regional projects from Armenian attacks. Therefore, Armenia’s every new provocation diminishes its credibility among the regional states and strengthens Azerbaijan’s position as a reliable partner.

*Orkhan Baghirov is a Leading advisor in the Center of Analysis of International Relations, (AIR Center), Baku, Azerbaijan

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