The “Crossroads of Peace” project initiated by RA Government has a crucial potential for regional stability - Iñárritu

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The “Crossroads of Peace” project initiated by RA Government has a crucial potential for regional stability - Iñárritu

YEREVAN, MAY 27, ARMENPRESS. John Iñárritu, a member of the Spanish Congress, considers the "Crossroads of Peace" project spearheaded by the Armenian government, a commendable initiative. According to Iñárritu, it can serve as an acceptable and constructive alternative to more controversial proposals such as the so-called “Zangezur Corridor”, as it has the potential to strengthen regional stability, economic development and cultural exchanges that are crucial for the long-term peace and prosperity of the South Caucasus.

In an interview with Armenpress, Iñárritu discussed the potential unblocking of communication channels in the South Caucasus, the proposals made by the Armenian side, the ongoing demarcation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the recently activated relations between Armenia and the European Union.

- In recent years there have been significant discussions about the need to unblock the regional communications in the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan demands the so-called “Zangezur corridor” from Armenia by threatening at the same time to get it by force. How would you evaluate such an aggressive and unprovoked behaviour of Azerbaijan?

- Historically, the only recognized corridor in the region has been the Lachin corridor, established to connect Armenia with Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The Lachin corridor was part of the agreements signed between Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in November 2020, aimed at ensuring safe passage and preventing isolation of the Armenian population in Artsakh. However, Azerbaijan's actions since then have shown a blatant disregard for these agreements.

The blockade of the Lachin corridor, which has led to significant humanitarian crises including the starvation of women, elderly, and children, and the forced exodus of Armenians from Artsakh, constitutes a form of ethnic cleansing and war crimes. These actions reveal the Azerbaijani regime's cold-blooded approach to imposing its will through force and suffering, rather than through diplomacy and negotiation.

The invention and imposition of the term "Zangezur corridor" by Azerbaijan is an artificial construct, aimed at creating a pretext for further territorial claims and expansionist ambitions. This tactic undermines regional stability and peace efforts, and it is essential for the international community to recognize and condemn such behaviour.

- In response to these claims of the Azerbaijani side, last year the Government of Armenia initiated the "Crossroads of Peace" project. What is your opinion on this initiative?

- The "Crossroads of Peace" project initiated by the Government of Armenia is a commendable initiative aimed at fostering connectivity and cooperation among the countries of the Caucasus region. This project has the potential to enhance regional stability, economic development, and cultural exchange, which are crucial for the long-term peace and prosperity of the South Caucasus.

The "Crossroads of Peace" project could serve as an acceptable and constructive alternative to more contentious proposals, such as the so-called "Zangezur corridor." By emphasizing cooperation and connectivity without coercion or territorial claims, the project aligns with international norms and promotes a more inclusive approach to regional development.

However, the success of such an initiative hinges on the mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity among participating nations. Unfortunately, Armenia faces significant challenges in this regard, particularly from its neighbours Azerbaijan and Turkey, whose expansionist aims and aggressive policies undermine the spirit of peaceful cooperation. Georgia remains an exception, generally maintaining a more neutral and cooperative stance in regional affairs.

In conclusion, for it to succeed, all participating countries must adhere to principles of respect, sovereignty, and non-aggression. Without these fundamental commitments, the vision of a peaceful and interconnected Caucasus may remain unattainable.

- Recently, Armenia and Azerbaijan reached an agreement on starting the border delimitation process based on the Alma-Ata Declaration. How would you evaluate this agreement and, in your opinion, can it bring peace to the two countries and the South Caucasus region?

- While negotiations are essential for achieving a peaceful solution to conflicts, the complexities and underlying issues must be acknowledged to understand the potential outcomes of this “agreement”.

The border delimitation process aims to clarify and establish mutually recognized borders, which is a foundational aspect of peaceful relations between neighbouring states. However, the success of this process depends heavily on the genuine commitment of both parties to a fair and transparent negotiation. In this context, the Armenian authorities are negotiating with a dictatorial regime in Azerbaijan led by the Aliyev clan, which has a track record of expansionist ambitions.

Azerbaijan's narrative of "West Azerbaijan" and its significant investment in propaganda, as they did with the "Caviar diplomacy" scheme before, raises concerns about the sincerity of its intentions. Such actions can undermine the peace process by creating and perpetuating false narratives that inflame tensions rather than resolve them.

An unjust peace, one that is imposed or that fails to address the core issues and grievances of both sides, is unlikely to bring lasting stability. Instead, it could act as a "ticking time bomb,". For peace to be sustainable, the agreement must be just, balanced, and respected by all parties involved.

In addition, Azerbaijan's ongoing detention of representatives of the Artsakh government, civilians from Artsakh, and even individuals from third countries like Lebanon based solely on their Armenian ethnicity, is a grave violation of human rights and international law. This unlawful captivity underscores the Azerbaijani regime's systematic and discriminatory policies against Armenians.

Such actions further highlight the regime's disregard for basic human rights and its intent to intimidate and oppress the Armenian population worldwide.

- How important would the deepening of relations between Armenia and the European Union be for the security and prosperity of the region? How would you assess the high-level meeting of Armenia-EU-USA in Brussels on April 5?

- Deepening the relationship between Armenia and the European Union is crucial for the security and prosperity of the region, and especially of Armenia. This strengthening of ties can be seen as a strategic move to foster stability and economic growth, while also enhancing Armenia’s institutions and aligning it more closely with European standards and values.

The high-level meeting between Armenia, the EU, and the United States of America in Brussels on April 5 was essential for advancing with a common agenda. The involvement of major international actors like the EU and the USA provides a counterbalance to regional tensions, particularly reducing the likelihood of conflict with Azerbaijan. By bringing more international stakeholders into the dialogue, there is a greater collective effort to ensure stability and deter Azerbaijani aggression.

Armenia, as a democracy with cultural and historical ties to European civilization, stands to benefit significantly from increased engagement with the EU. This engagement not only supports Armenia's democratic aspirations but also enhances its economic prospects through trade, investment, and development aid from Europe. In essence, closer Armenia-EU relations are a positive step toward a more secure and prosperous future for Armenia and the broader region.

Interview by Davit Mamyan



Armenia, Yerevan, 0002, Martiros Saryan 22


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