Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently introduced a plan known as the “Crossroads of Peace” project during his address at the “Tbilisi Silk Road Forum.” This initiative aims to increase cooperation and connectivity in the South Caucasus region, as claimed by the Armenian PM, who asserts that the project will have implications for Armenia’s foreign relations and its pursuit of peace in the region.
According to the government’s presentation of the Crossroads of Peace project, here are four key principles:
- Sovereignty over Infrastructures: This means that the countries through which transportation and energy networks pass will have control over them.
- Border Control and Security: Each nation will handle its own border and customs controls for both domestic and international transit.
- Dual Use of Infrastructures: The designated networks will serve both domestic and international transportation needs.
- Equal Access and Simplified Procedures: Countries will benefit from shared infrastructures, potentially leading to streamlined border and customs procedures.
The Crossroads of Peace project involves the following actions:
Establishment of Checkpoints:
Seven checkpoints will be established on the Armenia-Azerbaijan and Armenia-Turkey borders for road infrastructure, namely Kayan, Sotk, near Karahunj, Yeraskh, near Angeghakot on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, and Akhurik, Margara on the Armenia-Turkey border.
Restoration and Construction of Railways:
– Restore the Nradzor-Agarak railway section (43 km) within the Republic of Armenia.
– Rehabilitate the depleted sections of the railway from Hrazdan to Kayan (80 km) within Armenia.
– Restore the railway from Yeraskh to the border of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) (1 km).
– Rehabilitate the depleted sections of the railway from Gyumri to the border of Turkey (6 km).
Pashinyan also emphasized the importance of coexistence, the role of peace, and regional cooperation in his address.
Linking Nations for Peaceful Coexistence
Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that peace and stability are essential prerequisites for any successful regional initiative. The Crossroads of Peace project aims to modernize and construct vital transportation and energy infrastructures, connecting Armenia with neighboring nations like Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, and beyond.
“The road itself connects not only countries and cities but also nations of different countries,” noted Pashinyan, highlighting the transformative potential of such integrated networks.
A Crucial Role of Peace in Development
Pashinyan argued that enduring peace forms the bedrock for all progress. He contended that peace encompasses open borders, robust economic and cultural ties, knowledge sharing, and diplomatic dialogue. These elements are contingent on the presence of effective connecting roads and infrastructure, which is the linchpin of the Crossroads of Peace project.
The Armenian Prime Minister also reflected on the country’s democratic journey, emphasizing that democracy has provided resilience in the face of significant challenges.
The Nagorno-Karabakh(Artsakh) Issue
Pashinyan addressed the recent conflicts in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), highlighting the urgent need for peace and the resettlement of those displaced. He praised the Armenian people for their solidarity and resilience in the face of adversity, underscoring that their efforts ensured the acceptance and integration of over 100,000 refugees.
In conclusion, Pashinyan extended a call for stronger regional cooperation, emphasizing the need for active involvement from international partners and the European Union. He asserted that the EU plays a pivotal role in supporting Armenia’s ongoing reforms and its pursuit of a more stable, prosperous, and integrated future. The Crossroads of Peace initiative holds the promise of transforming the South Caucasus, providing a framework for regional stability, connectivity, and shared prosperity.
Corridors entail not only economic considerations but also have significant political implications.
The discussion on regional corridors transcends economic interests; it carries profound political implications that shape geopolitical dynamics.
An essential aspect to consider is the Armenia-Georgia-Russia railway, which serves as a linchpin in regional connectivity. This railway system not only facilitates trade and transit but also plays a crucial role in fostering diplomatic relations and strategic alliances.
The “Shushi Declaration” and public statements made by leaders like Erdogan and Aliyev shed light on the geopolitical complexity surrounding the ‘Zangezur corridor’. This corridor, which connects Azerbaijan with its Nakhichevan exclave, is not merely a matter of logistics; it is laden with political significance, symbolizing territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The discourse around Armenia’s transformation into a regional hub is gaining momentum. However, it’s important to note that if the ‘Zangezur corridor’ is fully operationalized, Nakhichevan, rather than Armenia, will emerge as the pivotal regional player. This shift in dynamics is underscored by a simple geographical observation: the railway connecting Armenia with Iran will inevitably pass through Nakhichevan, cementing its strategic importance.
In essence, the debate on regional corridors transcends infrastructure development; it’s intricately linked with political, territorial, and strategic considerations that have far-reaching implications for the South Caucasus region and beyond. Balancing economic interests with geopolitical realities is paramount in charting a course towards peace and stability in the region.