Major piece of the puzzle: how Azerbaijan becomes important for Iran, Russia

Azerbaijan Materials 4 January 2023 17:36 (UTC +04:00)
Major piece of the puzzle: how Azerbaijan becomes important for Iran, Russia
Maryana Ahmadova
Maryana Ahmadova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, January 4. Being under western sanctions, Iran and Russia are trying by all means to boost their bilateral ties, and acknowledge Azerbaijan’s indispensable role in this process.

Iran and Russia do not hide their close partnership. For example, recently, during the visit of the representatives of a number of Russian startups to Iran, it was agreed that joint international technology and entrepreneurship center will be launched in cooperation with Russia in the near future, at the same time, Iran has announced its readiness to enhance joint startup activities.

Besides business cooperation, naturally the two countries will also work towards freight transport growth, as well as over strengthening cooperation in the defense sphere. Recently, Iran and Russia have signed an agreement, according to which a ship for the Iranian-Russian port of Solyanka will be built.

Of course, Iran denies this, but it is commonly known that the country supplies its drones to Russia.

This is pretty obvious, that both Iran, and Russia, being under western sanctions, having found salvation in each other, seek to strengthen cooperation.

However, the absence of a common border forces the partners to cooperate either through the Caspian Sea, or through the territory of Azerbaijan. Therefore, the most preferred way for the cargo, raw materials, and literally everything else, would be through Azerbaijan.

Moreover, Azerbaijan has well-established economic ties with the border regions of both Russia, and Iran. For instance, about 100-200 trucks daily cross through the Astara border checkpoint between Iran and Azerbaijan. At the same time, Iran is constantly increasing its exports to Azerbaijan through the same checkpoint.

The recent meeting held in Jolfa city (East Azerbaijan Province of Iran) with the participation of Iranian and Azerbaijani customs officials also signifies productive cooperation with Azerbaijan.

Just today, Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahiyan instructed Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Seyed Abbas Mousavi to pay more attention to relations with Azerbaijan, as well as strengthen the existing bilateral ties.

On the other hand, Azerbaijan is simultaneously developing active relations with Russian regions, and not only with border regions, which explains regular meetings of Russian entrepreneurs with representatives of Azerbaijani business circles.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Iran have recently signed a declaration following the first trilateral meeting on the development of the International North–South Transport Corridor, where the sides announced the intention to prepare a draft agreement on the Rasht-Astara railway project. This means that both Russia and Iran recognize Azerbaijan as an important transit hub.

Moreover, according to the Iran Customs Committee, over the last Iranian year (from March 21 through December 31, 2022), Iran exported $563 million worth of goods to Russia, and worth $528.5 million to Azerbaijan.

The farsighted strategy conducted by Azerbaijan under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, including the projects in the liberated territories, is helping to even more increase the importance of the country as a transit hub. Azerbaijan in fact guarantees the fastest and cheapest transit through its territory, which makes it attractive not only for neighboring countries, but also in a broader region. With the major construction work carried out in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh and Zangazur economic regions, two international airports already functioning there, and the potential opening of the Zangazur Corridor, immense opportunities will emerge for Iran and Russia as well, as Azerbaijan is at the very center of International North–South Transport Corridor, as well as the Middle Corridor.

In other words, Azerbaijan is allowing the countries to establish new ties with each other.

Of course, Azerbaijan will also benefit thanks to the strengthening of cooperation between Russia and Iran, both in terms of revenues and strengthening the country's foreign policy.

Both Iran and Russia understand that they cannot maintain their positions as major players in the region without Azerbaijan.