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 Friday, June 11 2021 15:28
Naira Badalian

Russian Deputy Prime Minister: Possibilities of transport  communication between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the  Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic through the territory of Armenia are  being considered 

Russian Deputy Prime Minister: Possibilities of transport  communication between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the  Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic through the territory of Armenia are  being considered 

ArmInfo. If there is goodwill in Transcaucasia, transport communication will be unblocked, trade will begin to develop, the economies of both countries will receive a  powerful new impetus for development, and people's lives will  improve. It is important that such goodwill exists.

Deputy Prime  Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Overchuk told Rossiyskaya  Gazeta about this.  He recalled that on the basis of a joint  trilateral statement by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian  Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin,  a trilateral working group was created under the joint chairmanship  of the Deputy Prime Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the  Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation, which was entrusted  with unblocking economic and transport links in the region.

"From the very beginning, we agreed with our colleagues that we  choose an approach based on common sense. The relations between  Azerbaijan and Armenia are very complex, multi-layered, go deep into  history. Many have endured a terrible grief, left their homes, lost  the closest people. Their memory will be always honored. Today it is  important to make sure that trouble does not return to people's  homes, and for this it is necessary to heal wounds, learn to speak  with each other and work together to create a common peaceful future,  "he said.

According to Overchuk, the reality is that these peoples, close and  friendly to us, were, are and will be neighbors. "People living there  want to live peacefully, raise children and their grandchildren. All  participants in the negotiations on unblocking economic and transport  links in the region proceed from this.  Everyone wants to build a  better life for their peoples. Russia helps them in this," he said.   According to the Deputy Prime Minister, negotiations at the Deputy  Prime Minister's level began in absentia in January 2021, and three  delegations sat down at the round table on January 30. "Never before  have such issues been substantively discussed at such a level between  Azerbaijan and Armenia. From the moment of signing the trilateral  statement of the heads of our states on November 9, 2021 and the end  of the forty-four-day autumn war, and until the start of  negotiations, only a little more than two months passed. There are  few examples in history, when the warring parties after such a short  period of time would sit down at the negotiating table with the task  of unblocking transport links and creating conditions for the  development of the economies of their countries. All this makes the  format of the negotiations special and emphasizes the desire of the  participants to find a solution to the task set by the heads of  state, "he said.  From the very beginning, it was important to find a  starting point, Overchuk said. "Nobody wanted the negotiations to end  before they could start. This approach allowed us to move on to  discussing all possible rail and road routes between the two  countries. The possibilities of transport communication between the  western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic  through the territory of Armenia are being considered. At the same  time, tasks are being solved aimed at launching connection from  Armenia to Russia through the territory of Azerbaijan or from Armenia  and Russia to Iran through Nakhichevan. In addition, Armenia may have  an opportunity to use Azerbaijani ports on the Caspian Sea to  transport goods to the countries of Central Asia and from the  countries of Central Asia to Armenia ", - he said.

Within the framework of the trilateral working group, there is a  substantive conversation about the unblocking of the region. The key  to solving this problem, according to the representative of the  Russian government, is the unblocking of Armenia, which, since  gaining independence, "has actually been a blocked country."

Overchuk recalled that Armenia does not have its own access to the  sea. Armenia has very complicated historical relations with Turkey  and Azerbaijan, and its borders with these countries are blocked.  "Armenia has a small section of the land border with Iran, but there  is a difficult terrain and bad roads that impede full-fledged  transport links. In addition, Iran itself is experiencing restrictive  measures, which also affects the situation," he said.

As the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out, Armenia has an opportunity  to carry out transport communication with the outside world only  through Georgia, where there is access to seaports and the Upper Lars  international checkpoint - the only land route to Russia. This road  passage has a limited capacity and is closed for traffic for several  weeks a year due to weather conditions. Hundreds of trucks are  accumulating there, standing and waiting for the road to open,  traffic to resume, in order to carry goods to or from Russia. "This  bottleneck hinders economic development, has a negative impact on  migration processes and does not allow Armenia to fully reveal its  potential and turn into a prosperous country," he said.

The lifting of the transport blockade in the region, he said, is  important for Russia, the EAEU and all neighboring countries. At the  same time, Armenia will become not only an important international  transport hub connecting the Iranian ports of the Persian Gulf with  the Black Sea ports, as well as Russian ports in the Baltic and the  Pacific Ocean, but it will also be able to start building up its own  production, as there will be access to new sales markets, and the  factors constraining the possibility of exporting products from the  country will become a thing of the past. In modern history, such  opportunities have never opened up, and, undoubtedly, in this new  configuration, Azerbaijan and Armenia will be the main beneficiaries,  he noted.  Russia helps them and all other countries in the region in  this.

Within the framework of the working group, all possible rail and road  routes connecting Azerbaijan and Armenia were investigated. In the  spring, Russian experts from the Ministry of Transport, Rosavtodor  and Russian Railways worked in the border areas of these countries.  They surveyed each road and railroad and assessed the possibilities  of commercial transport between the two countries. The condition of  road surfaces, railways, bridges, pipes that lie under the roads was  assessed. Unfortunately, almost all possible routes have fallen into  disrepair, and the restoration of transport links requires serious  investments. Based on the results of this expert work, the parties  were able to outline further steps to unblock transport links.  A  large part of the work is also related to legal issues. There are no  diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, there are no  checkpoints, customs, everything that usually happens between  neighboring countries. "Over the past 30 years, both Azerbaijan and  Armenia have done everything to make movement between them  impossible. These accumulated painful problems need to be addressed.  An inventory of all international normative legal acts is being  conducted. First of all, this concerns the CIS, because both Armenia  and Azerbaijan are members of that organization. It so happened that  every time some kind of multilateral agreements are signed,  representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan make reservations about  each other, excluding the spread of these agreements to the opposite  side. Such reservations should be removed, "Overchuk pointed out.

According to him, for more than thirty years the state apparatus of  the two countries systematically worked against each other, and now  they need to look for solutions and find compromises. "It's hard for  people, because they bear the burden of all the previous life and the  history of relations between their countries.  When all these  solutions are found, and Azerbaijan and Armenia decide that they are  ready to implement them, then it will be possible to proceed with the  restoration of roads and after that resume transportation.  The main  thing is to see a good future, and, of course, it is important to  ensure that no one now takes steps that further complicate these  already difficult relations, "concluded Oleksiy Overchuk. 


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