Should France bite the hand that feeds it?

Politics Materials 10 February 2023 12:12 (UTC +04:00)
Should France bite the hand that feeds it?
Azer Ahmadbayli
Azer Ahmadbayli
Read more

BAKU, Azerbaijan, February 10. The decades-old system of cargo transportation on the Eurasian continent has undergone significant, and maybe even essential, changes as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Due to economic sanctions imposed against Russia, cargo traffic through the territory of this country (the so-called Northern Corridor) has mostly stopped. Similar circumstances apply to the Southern Corridor through Iran: commercial partners and cargo owners are forced to largely avoid the Islamic Republic's territory due to sanctions and internal unrest.

Amid this, the Transcaspian International Transport Route (TITR), also known as the Middle Corridor, has begun to play a key role in the cargo transit through the East-West route.

For instance, the Kazakh media outlets note that in the first nine months of 2022, the volume of goods transiting through the Middle Corridor almost tripled compared to the same period in 2021. Kazakhstan's exports through this route have surged eight times, according to the TITR Association.

The South Caucasus appears to be the most essential part of the Middle Corridor. To be exact, it's two countries that play this crucial role - Azerbaijan and Georgia. Armenia does not play any role in this process, as its transport and logistics capabilities are severely limited.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, as well as transport links between Baku and the Black Sea ports of Georgia, is today, perhaps, the only fully functioning overland route for the delivery of cargo across the Eurasian continent to the EU countries.

Enter France - the country that imports strategically important goods (uranium, titanium) from the Central Asian region, and the country that at the same time is basically biting the hand that feeds it by turning a blind eye to separatism and damaging relations with Azerbaijan (vital transit country in the Middle Corridor).

The false hopes prove that Paris gradually pushing Armenia to escalate with Azerbaijan, and possibly even to start a new war in the region.This, in turn, can directly affect the safety of the Transcaspian International Transport Route as well as the supply of cargo to the EU, including France.

Without devaluing the close historical ties between France and Armenia, one still wonders: are the French parliamentarians right, when their actions are directly targeted at making the already strained Paris-Baku relations even worse (or going as far as demanding sanctions to be imposed on Azerbaijan)?

Today, when the world feels to be on the verge of huge changes, all countries, both small and large and economically strong ones, such as France, are interested not only in keeping friends, but also not making enemies.

If the national interests of not any other country, but France itself are in the first place for the French government, then it would be worth to adjust its relations with the countries of the South Caucasus.