Blockaded Yerevan and ... all Armenian roads
Are the Armenians "betting" on Iran?
Recently in Tehran, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was received by the newly elected Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi. According to TASS, citing the press service of the Armenian Council of Ministers (August 6), the parties
It was especially noted that Pashinyan (pictured):
They also discussed the implementation of a number of regional projects with the participation of the two countries and, indirectly, the possibility of unblocking Armenian highways, through which cargoes from Iran can go. Although no official documents were signed during the negotiations to resolve these issues.
How realistic is the prompt lifting of the blockade of transport routes in the south of Transcaucasia to Turkey?
Nobody is able to assess this yet - the memory of Nagorno-Karabakh is too fresh. There are ways - both through Armenia and to Iran through the Nakhichevan region of Azerbaijan. But it seems that the task of using them is only theoretically indicated by all parties.
In the foreign trade transit of Russia and in the international cargo transit - through the Russian Federation and the Transcaucasus - a stake has been made on increasing the role of Turkey and Azerbaijan with Georgia, friendly to Ankara. This, in turn, will strengthen the political role of Turkey both in the region and in Russia's relations with all the countries of the Transcaucasus.
However, on May 24, 2021, a "Memorandum of Understanding" was signed in Yerevan between the Ministry of Economy of Armenia and the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development of Iran. This document is notable for the following: according to ARKA news agency (Yerevan, May 25),
In turn, the Jam-News (Yerevan) news agency on July 15 made a reference to the statement of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad two months ago in Yerevan:
First number - Ankara
But all these plans and intentions remain theoretical.
The fact is that the BTK railway artery: Kars - Akhalkalaki - Tbilisi - Baku (Turkey - Georgia - Azerbaijan), operating since 2017, has gone beyond the limits of regional significance by 2021: in the direction of Russia.
Let us recall that our country is a party to the agreements of 2020 on the unblocking of steel highways in the South Caucasus, including transit ones. Namely: in Ankara on May 6, 2019, the heads of the railway administrations of Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a corresponding trilateral memorandum.
It provides for joint actions to ensure regular rail transport along the BTK route, including the establishment of economically justified preferential tariffs and the attraction of a new cargo base (Georgia joined the document at the end of 2019).
As for the transit alternative in South Transcaucasia, according to estimates by International Alert and a number of Russian specialized experts (2019–2021), the restoration of the Transcaucasian Transsib - the Turkish-Armenian-Azerbaijani railway corridor Kars - Gyumri - Yerevan - Nakhichevan - Julfa - Meghri - Mindjevan - Horadiz - Alat - Baku (passes near the borders with Turkey and Iran) - will cost at least $ 430 million.
Of this amount, up to $ 280 million is required for the restoration of land plots in Azerbaijan, over $ 115 million for Armenia, and about $ 55 million for Turkey. These figures include the cost of restoring the Azerbaijani-Julfa-Iranian border crossing point Julfa.
That is, leaving behind the brackets the well-known problems of Armenia with Azerbaijan and Turkey, the unblocking of the South and Transcaucasian steel highways in this region also rests on the financing of restoration work.
Armenia - not even the second
At the same time, the BTK route is actually operating. And, most likely, it is more profitable for the Russian side to "increase" its use than to invest - albeit partially - in the abovementioned restoration costs.
Maybe this is why no “collective” measures have been taken to lift the almost 20-year-old Turkish transport blockade of Armenia?
Then what are the real prospects of the RF-Azerbaijan-Iran railway corridor along the Caspian coast? Moreover, the creation of a connecting Azerbaijani-Iranian section (Astara - Rasht) here is only about 100 km, has it stalled since 2020?
In any case, the aforementioned 2019 railway agreement with Russian participation on the use of BTK predetermines such issues. The same questions are also conditioned by the explanations of the first deputy director of JSC "Russian Railways" Sergei Pavlov for the central Turkish news agency Anadolu on February 17:
A similar assessment of the prospects of BTK was expressed in the Turkish Star (Istanbul) on April 10, 2021, Adil Karaismailoglu, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Turkey:
According to preliminary estimates of the same Turkish department, cargo transit to Russia, and in 2022 - to the countries of Central Asia, will be in both directions - the main transit trade flow through the BTK.
In the meantime, the less long railway route of the Russian Federation - Turkey - through the Azerbaijani-Armenian section of Akstafa - Ijevan, about 50 km - has not yet been unblocked. Given that up to 90% of the Transcaucasian length of this highway is in working order today.
Judging by all the signs, Russia's "transit" (is it only transit?) Dependence on Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan will only increase.
And the unblocking of Yerevan - the real unblocking of railways in South Transcaucasia will most likely be postponed. Under the pretext that the political issues in the "triangle" Turkey-Armenia-Azerbaijan have not been resolved.
- Alexey Chichkin, Alexey Podymov
- rzda.ru, imgs.stargazete.com, vestikavkaza.ru, cdn1.img.sputnik-abkhazia.info
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