Nagorno-Karabah, routes with Turkey, Russia, Iran reopen
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Thanks to Putin's mediation, prospects for the region's economic revival are reopening. Russian soldiers to de-mine the territories and the rebuild the interrupted routes. Pašinyan did not obtain the return of prisoners. Internal opposition is growing.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The corridors that allow transport between Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Iran, ...) will soon be reopened. This was assured by Russian President Vladimir Putin after 4 hours of discussion with Armenian Nikol Pašinyan (photo 2) and Azerbaijani Ilham Aliev (photo 3).

The negotiations, held on 11 January, failed to resolve all of the problems inherent to the conflict, but have presented some prospects for the region's economic revival. Battered by armed clashes in recent months, its peace is for now guaranteed by Russian and Turkish "peacemakers".

Putin has guaranteed that the transport corridors will be reopened thanks to the work of Russian soldiers who will de-mine the territories and rebuild the interrupted passages.

The two leaders in conflict listened to the Russian president with expressions far from conciliatory: Aliev was very cold and Pašinyan extremely nervous (his arrival was in question until the last moment); then there was a lack of the Turkish "guest of weight", President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who in recent speeches insisted on the need for Turkey to participate in all post-war processes in the region.

Putin seems to want to impose the exclusive tripartite format of the negotiations, while Aliev has continually talked about the "interests of our neighbouring countries". With the reopening of transport, Azerbaijan obtains the reestablishment of direct contact (especially rail) with the Nakhichevan region (Azerbaijani area in Armenian territory) and with Turkey itself.

In turn, Prime Minister Pašinyan insisted on Armenian opposition to the status of Nagorno Karabakh and on the issue of the exchange of prisoners. However, he substantially agreed on the economic agreements proposed by Putin, which also reopen the links between Russia and Iran, and "can lead to more effective guarantees of security".

The leader of the opposition in Pašinyan, head of the "Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland" Vazken Manukyan, intervened yesterday against the negotiations. In harsh terms, he said that the Moscow meeting marks a new humiliation for Armenia, which has not obtained the return of prisoners and has complied with all of Aliev's requests. Manukyan again called for the resignation of Pašinyan, "who is unable to defend the interests of our country".

In Georgia too, reactions to the agreement have been rather negative, as the proposals of the Putin-Aliev-Pašinyan trio reduce the role of Tbilisi to a simple transit area for communications between the north and south of the Caucasus, without being able to intervene in the economic mechanisms.

Convoys to Baku and Ankara will now pass through Nakhichevan, excluding Georgia, which also maintains a strategic role in the transport of gas and oil. However, the Georgian political scene is blocked by the discussion on yet another withdrawal from politics of billionaire Bidzina Ivanišvili (photo 4), founder and leader of the ruling party, the "Georgian Dream".

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