Azerbaijan-Armenia peace benefits both region and Kazakhstan - view from Astana

Kazakhstan Materials 24 April 2024 10:55 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijan-Armenia peace benefits both region and Kazakhstan - view from Astana
Ali Gasimov
Ali Gasimov
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 24. The onset of the conflict in Ukraine in 2022 resulted in significant economic repercussions for both the region and beyond. Specifically, traditional transportation routes linking Asia and Europe experienced notable negative impacts.

Consequently, key stakeholders in Europe and Asia have chosen several paths to restore the movement goods between the two continents, with the Middle Corridor being one prominent choice. This corridor traverses the territories of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Türkiye.

Although this route's current capacity is insufficient to handle normal cargo volumes, there is potential for its expansion. This potential is corroborated by analyses and reports from international financial institutions, which express their intent to invest in the development of transport infrastructure along this corridor.

Notably, in mid-April, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev embarked on his inaugural official visit to Armenia. This gesture can be seen as an attempt to strengthen bilateral collaboration between the two countries in view of the recently revealed reality in the South Caucasus. Previously, the development of strong commercial relations between Kazakhstan and Armenia was partly hampered by Kazakhstan's position on the Karabakh conflict. But now that Azerbaijan has returned its territory and a peace deal appears likely, the way forward is becoming more apparent.

Naturally, genuine peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which would ultimately enable a direct route between the two nations, holds the potential to strengthen economic collaboration between Kazakhstan and Armenia. Therefore, peace and the unblocking of transportation links are poised to bolster Armenia's trade relations with Central Asian countries, China, and other Asian nations. Although these kinds of conversations would have appeared unlikely ten years ago, the way the area has changed since 2020—largely due to Azerbaijan's actions—makes them possible now.

In this regard, Kazakh political analyst and director of the Kemel Arna Public Foundation, Zamir Karazhanov, told Trend about his vision of the possible benefits of peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia for countries, particularly Kazakhstan.

According to the political analyst, a peace agreement, normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and unblocking of transport communications would benefit all countries in the region, as well as Kazakhstan.

"I believe that once the situation in the South Caucasus stabilizes, Kazakhstan and the regional countries will benefit. Large-scale opportunities arise from stabilization, therefore this is just the beginning for us. Considering developments across various regions, including the Middle East, it's safe to say that the Middle Corridor currently offers the most reliable route for cargo transportation between Asia and Europe. Through its utilization, we can boost cargo volumes and, as the saying goes, pave the way for a brighter future," he said.

According to Karazhanov, this development will also contribute to the growth of investment between the countries in the region.

"We recognize that transportation is merely the beginning. It is poised to bring other sectors along with it, such as investments, cultural cooperation, education, and more. In essence, all these facets are set to grow in intensity," he emphasized.

According to the analyst, Armenia sees and understands that all these regional projects bypass it, and the country's leadership realizes the losses from non-participation in them.

"Hence, I am of the opinion that Armenia is keen on this development. Currently, both sides are in talks regarding the specifics of the peace agreement, with achievable objectives being set. These include mutual acknowledgment of territorial integrity, border delimitation, demarcation, and more. Essentially, Armenia and Azerbaijan aim to address all matters comprehensively within one cohesive agreement, avoiding the need to revisit unresolved issues in subsequent stages. It is plausible, even likely, that this peace agreement will incorporate clauses on cooperation across various economic sectors, such as transportation, environmental protection, and possibly mutual arms control for security purposes. These discussions indicate a forward-thinking approach by the countries, looking beyond immediate needs. The pragmatic stance taken by these nations fosters optimistic expectations for the peace agreement and its subsequent phases," he said.

Saken Mukan, a Kazakh political scientist and professor at the Department of Media Communication and History of Kazakhstan at the International IT University (IITU), told Trend that Kazakhstan views the resolution of the Karabakh issue as a pivotal step towards enhancing relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Speaking about the possible opening of a transportation route to Armenia via Azerbaijan, the political analyst mentioned that it would facilitate Kazakhstan's trade with Armenia.

"During Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's visit to Armenia, Kazakh officials emphasized to both local and Armenian media that the movement of cargo between the two countries is routed through Iran and Turkmenistan.

This route naturally complicates matters, both logistically and formally. Given that a visa is needed to enter Turkmenistan, this results in consumers purchasing these goods at a higher price. This situation runs counter to the essence and purpose of cooperation within the EAEU, as it hinders collaboration instead of fostering improvement," he said.

In his opinion, the route through Iran also limits exports and imports of products.

"The second aspect is Iran, through which Armenian wine and liquor products are not allowed as export products to third countries. Hence, Kazakhstan is interested in Armenia getting involved in further development of transportation projects in the region," he added.

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