Zangezur Corridor to breath new life into regional transport communications
    2024 is crucial for South Caucasus’ transport grid

    ANALYTICS  11 September 2023 - 16:40

    Mushvig Mehdiyev

    The unblocking of transport communications in the South Caucasus after the 2020 Armenia-Azerbaijan war is expected to get fresh blood with the launch of the Zangezur Corridor, the Azerbaijani section of which, President Ilham Aliyev said, will be completed in 2024.

    The multi-modal corridor was arguably the ultimate regional transport project initiated by Azerbaijan under Article 9 of the trilateral statement signed on November 10, 2020, to end the 44-day hostilities.

    Article 9 reads that all economic and transport links in the region shall be restored. Armenia guarantees the safety of transport links between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in order to organize an unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles, and goods in both directions.

    The foremost purpose of the Zangezur Corridor is to restore a direct overland connection between the Azerbaijani mainland and the country’s southwestern Nakhchivan exclave. From Nakhchivan, the route will plug into the Turkish transport grid gaining access to European markets.

    Nakhchivan became an exclave separated from the Azerbaijani mainland after the Soviet occupation of the South Caucasus region in 1920. Following the region’s incorporation, Soviet rulers inked a decision to transfer some of Azerbaijan's territories, including its historic region of Zangazur, which borders Nakhchivan, to the newly-created Armenian state.

    Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s aggravated Nakhchivan’s isolation. All kinds of energy, electricity, and transport connections, including highways and railway links to Nakhchivan are closed by Armenia. Currently, land connections with Nakhchivan are available via either Iran or Türkiye.

    The highway chunk of the Zangezur Corridor, known as the Hajigabul-Horadiz-Aghband road, starts from the central Hajigabul district of Azerbaijan and traverses the Fuzuli and Zangilan districts to plug into the Armenian portion of the highway on the interstate border. The highway measures 123.8 kilometres in length.

    The railway section of the corridor measures 110.4 kilometres in length spanning the Horadiz station in the Fuzuli district with the Aghband station in the Zangilan district on the border with Armenia.

    The Horadiz-Agband railway comprises 9 stations, (Horadiz, Marjanli, Mahmudlu, Soltanli, Gumlaq, Hekari, Minjivan, Bartaz, and Aghband), 3 tunnels, 41 bridges, 7 overpasses, and 300 artificial engineering structures. Construction works on the railroad are carried out in three stages. The first stage covers a 30-kilometre section of the line. Almost 90 per cent of the work on this stage has been completed.

    Currently, work is being done on the second stage, which is 55 kilometres long spanning Soltanli, Hakari, Gumlag, and Minjivan stations. Soltanli station is the starting point. So far, more than 30 per cent of the works on the installation of artificial engineering devices on the road and the implementation of soil bed works have been completed.

    Azerbaijan is committed to completing its portion of the Zangezur multimodal transportation corridor by 2024.

    The Zangezur Corridor is anticipated to accelerate the increasing trade volumes between Europe and Asia, as it will reestablish the connection between Azerbaijan's mainland and its southwestern exclave of Nakhchivan, with a further link to the Turkish market. Many analysts view the corridor as a crucial component of the East-West and North-South transport routes, benefiting all neighbouring countries, and contributing to the overall Eurasian trade and transport communications, which include regional economies with a combined nominal GDP of $1.1 trillion.

    Although the opening of the Zangezur Corridor has significant potential, Armenia strongly opposes its launch. Additionally, the Armenian government has failed to take concrete action towards restoring their section of the corridor despite its commitments.

    President Ilham Aliyev said the corridor would be launched whether Armenia wants it or not.


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