By Burc Eruygur
ISTANBUL (AA) - Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday denied that Baku has any territorial claims against Yerevan, following claims cited by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow.
"I want to say that we have no such (territorial) claims (on Armenia) … As for the word ‘corridor’, which I used, I used (it) in the same way in relation to the North-South corridor, in the same way, this word is used in relation to the East-West corridor, The word ‘corridor’ is in no way an encroachment on someone's territory. It is an international term,” Aliyev said.
Pashinyan claimed following opening remarks at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council that Aliyev’s statements on Baku’s initiation of the creation of the Zangezur corridor were “an expression” used to put forward territorial claims against Armenia.
The Zangezur region was part of Azerbaijan, though the Soviets gave it to Armenia in the 1920s, leaving Azerbaijan deprived of its direct overland route to Nakhchivan.
Following a 44-day conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in September 2020, Baku liberated numerous cities, villages and settlements in Karabakh from Armenian occupation, ending in a Moscow-brokered truce.
Since then, Azerbaijan has focused on planned connections including motorways and a 43-kilometer (26.7-mile) railway through the corridor.
Aliyev also denied Pashinyan’s claims that Azerbaijan is blocking the flow of transport through the Lachin road, the only route connecting Armenia to the Karabakh region, saying the road is open and that it is not right to “use this meeting for baseless accusations.”
“A border checkpoint has been established on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. There is a checkpoint of Russian forces 20 meters away from this border checkpoint. Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian origin living in Karabakh can go to Armenia from here without any hindrance,” Aliyev said.
Last month, Azerbaijan announced that it established a border checkpoint at the starting point of the Lachin-Khankendi road, citing the use of the road by Armenia to illegally transport military arms and equipment to the region.