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Unacceptable Zangezur Corridor Plan from Intl. Law Perspective

2023/07/05 | Note, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - Opinion: Zangezur Corridor is one of the aspirations of the government of the Republic of Azerbaijani in the region, for the advancement and realization of which it is exerting utmost efforts. In fact, after the second Karabakh war (2020), this inapplicable plan has been raised more due to Azerbaijan’s “arbitrary interpretation” of the Baku-Yerevan-Moscow tripartite agreement and Armenia’s “weak position” in the region. Hamid Khoshayand – Expert on regional affairs

Although efforts and comments about the Zangezur Corridor are made mainly by the Azerbaijani government, the fact is that Ankara is more interested in this issue than Baku; if the mentioned corridor is a communication route for Azerbaijan with economic and political functions, for Ankara, it is a corridor and a communication route between the East and the West of the so-called Turkish world, beyond the economic functions.

During the recent visit of the president of Turkey to Azerbaijan, Erdoğan seriously raised the issue of the Zangezur Corridor. While returning from Azerbaijan, he told reporters on the plane that the Zangezur Corridor is an issue with Iran, not Armenia. Erdogan noted that Tehran’s attitude upsets both Azerbaijan and Turkey. He said: If they approached this positively, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran would be integrated, and perhaps a Beijing-London line would be opened.

Contrary to the statements, arguments, and “declared” policies raised, Zangezur Corridor is considered the connecting point of “Greater Turkestan of Ankara.” Because if the purpose of building Zangezur is to connect Azerbaijan to Nakhchivan, this connection has been established through Iran for years.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is the primary opponent of constructing the alleged Zangezur Corridor. The opposition and obstruction of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the construction of this corridor in the way Baku and Ankara are following and will cause the cutting off of the Iran-Armenia border have a well-founded and robust legal, political, and security rationale. Because, along with changing the region’s geopolitics, it threatens the security and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the past two years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly, officially and unofficially, and in various ways, expressed its clear and decisive position regarding the alleged Zangezur Corridor, and in fact, this issue is “unacceptable” and one of the “red lines” of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

One of the important points that should be considered in this regard is to look at this alleged corridor from the perspective of international law and the rule of “stability of borders.” Because “border” is very important in international relations as it defines a country’s territorial and geographical territory. If a country’s border is unknown, unstable, changeable, or manipulated, its territorial integrity and foreign policy and interactions will also become vulnerable. Therefore, “shifting boundaries” and “changing their real and intrinsic function” is unacceptable for governments, and sometimes this issue leads to prolonged political and ethnic conflicts between countries. The International Court of Justice has repeatedly referred to the principle of border stability as an established legal principle in its issued verdicts.

In several cases, including the border disputes between Benin and Niger (2003), the border dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia, the maritime and territorial dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras (1999), the border dispute between Mali and Burkina Faso (1983), the Court has emphasized the importance of “stability of borders,” and even in those cases, it has not accepted the resolution of border disputes according to the principle of fairness and did not accept it as a justification for violating the principle of border stability.

For example, in the case of the border dispute between Burkina Faso and the Republic of Mali, the International Court of Justice rejected even the change of borders inherited from the “colonial period. However, that ruling apparently conflicts with the right of self-determination of nations.

The “principle of border stability,” which has become an inviolable and well-known legal rule and procedure since 1986, is so important that based on it, the preservation and continuity of colonial boundaries are also respected; borders that were determined outside the will of the countries and during the colonial period by the European colonial powers because this principle is one of the fundamental requirements of the “survival,” “development,” “security” and “independence” of countries.

This is precisely the same principle also discussed in the issue of the Zangezur Corridor. In addition to other existing issues, the border between Iran and Armenia is subject to the “principle of border stability.” It should not change its nature or lose its relevance under any circumstances. The possible replacement of this border with the alleged Zangezur Corridor, the details and coordinates of which are completely clear, is a “blatant violation” of international legal and judicial procedures and rules regarding borders if it were otherwise. The principle of stability of borders and rules of international law would be ignored; Iran could also claim regarding the change of borders in the South Caucasus, which was once a part of Iran’s geographical territory, and the return of the borders to its former state, as well as the “Golestan” and “Turkmenchai” treaties, which were concluded against Iran’s opinion and under emergency conditions.

It is illegal claim for a country to claim that it seeks to restore its former borders in the post-independence era in various ways. No country has the right to change the existing borders for any reason, even with “coercive force.”

Therefore, regarding the alleged Zangezur Corridor, the issue is not only the construction of a commercial corridor with political functions, etc., but instead, the main issue also is the violation of international rules and is contrary to international law, which, while “changing the geopolitics of the region,” threatens the national security of several countries, including Iran, and “disturbs” and “overshadows” foreign policy, the process of securing national interests, good neighborliness, regional communication, communication lines and other issues related to these cases that are not acceptable in any way.

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