Longtime Azerbaijani ally Turkey appears to be taking on a larger role in supporting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an Azerbaijani exclave sandwiched between Armenia and Iran. The first steps in this intensified cooperation are taking shape just months after plans for rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia went into cold storage.
Turkey, which shares an 11-kilometer border with the exclave, has long acted to provide support to ensure that the isolated exclave of 40,000 people survived. Both Ankara and Baku cite the 1921 Treaty of Kars, which defined Nakhchivan as part of Azerbaijan, as the basis for this support.
But with Baku now an influential regional economic power, that relationship has become less about Nakhchivan’s immediate survival, and more about long-term, strategic projects for the exclave, which shares a 246-kilometer-long border with Armenia.
The new role centers on the critical Azerbaijani-Turkish tie of energy as well as on transportation access to Istanbul, a regional trading hub, and eastern Turkey.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku. He is also a board member of the Open Society Institute-Azerbaijan.