The escalation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border was provoked by the policy of the Armenian authorities, who, as the course of negotiations shows, have not abandoned their territorial claims against Azerbaijan and essentially violated all existing trilateral agreements, says Eldar Namazov, political analyst, Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in his interview with Minval.az.
According to him, this is not just about sabotaging the negotiation process aimed at opening communications, providing Azerbaijan with a road to Nakhchivan, delimitation and demarcation of the borders and preparation of a peace treaty.
Apart from this sabotage, the Armenian authorities refuse to withdraw the rest of their troops from the area where the Russian peacekeepers are stationed. Armenia has been building military bases on the border with Azerbaijan, trying to set up a military foothold, sabotage groups have been mining the roads used by the Azerbaijani military and civilians. All this led to the current aggravation of the situation, and Azerbaijan was forced to resort to retaliatory measures, which I think were quite adequate. According to the information I have, Armenia will not be able to carry out military provocations and threaten our borders for a long time, because there is now essentially a security buffer zone under tight fire cover and physical control of our armed forces, and this was inevitable, the establishment of this zone was dictated by the course of events. A year ago, I addressed the issue of a security belt, my analysis was published, with a map attached. I could see that the policy of the Armenian authorities was actually focused on preparing new military footholds and at continuing the policy of territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Logically, the inevitability of military provocations and hostile actions on the border itself follows from that chosen strategy. This is simple logic: if you say “A”, you have to say “B”.
Refusing to follow the path of peace, sabotaging the peace talks, Armenia was bound to resort to military provocations, and, of course, a response from Azerbaijan had to follow. Yes, we have losses, but, of course, significantly fewer than the Armenian side. To us, every one of our soldiers is our pride and treasure, we mourn our martyrs who gave their lives to repel the Armenian provocation. But I must voice my opinion on this matter as well. Our generation survived the first Karabakh war, we lost thousands of our soldiers and civilians, and there are still many names on the missing persons list. Our children’s generation fought in the second Karabakh war, and we won a brilliant victory and liberated our lands. But for that victory, 3,000 martyrs, our best sons, laid their lives on the altar of the Motherland. And if the Armenian side now blatantly continues its revanchist policy, trying to build up its military capability and refusing to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, we face a choice: respond adequately and finish the defeat of Armenian fascism or let our grandchildren inherit the necessity to fight in a third Karabakh war. Considering the consequences of the first and second Karabakh wars, considering how many lives of our fellow citizens were lost, I think that we now cannot pass this dreadful “legacy” down to future generations of Azerbaijanis, and therefore we must force Armenia to peace, to the recognition of our territorial integrity.
Pashinyan appealed to the CSTO and asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help, apparently hinting at the possibility of Russia interfering in the military process—as per the clauses of the mutual assistance treaty. Should we expect any serious hostile moves from Russia in this situation?
Neither the bilateral agreement with Russia, nor the agreement within the CSTO allows this organization, or Russia as an individual state, to be involved in the hostilities on Armenia’s side. Because both the bilateral agreement with Russia and the agreement within the CSTO are defensive alliances. The Charter of this organization says explicitly that it was created to protect member states, the organization operates within the framework of international law, the UN Security Council resolutions, and therefore this Charter does not give any CSTO member the right to attack a neighboring country, commit aggression against it, seize its territory and expect assistance from another CSTO member. And we see this in practice. Now there is a Russo-Ukrainian war going on, and Armenia declares that it holds a position of neutrality. Why? Isn’t Armenia also a member of the CSTO, like Russia? Yet Armenia, as I said, takes a position of neutrality, just like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. The CSTO is a defensive alliance, not an expansionist one.
And if a CSTO member country chooses to conduct a military operation outside its borders, the other members bear no responsibility. Therefore, Armenia acts extremely illogically when it declares its neutrality in the Russo-Ukrainian war and resents Russia and the other CSTO countries for not supporting Armenia’s military aggression against the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. This “logic” is absurd, and I think that many in Armenia also understand that their territorial claims against neighboring countries have nothing to do with the Charter and the countries’ commitments within the CSTO.
One of the versions as to what triggered the military escalation on the Azerbaijani-Armenia border circulating now is an “interference of third forces”. How reasonable do you think this version is?
Armenia certainly has certain foreign policy interests and expectations. I would not call this an “interference of third forces”, but rather I would call this process the result of Armenia’s illusions, which “will change the foreign policy course”. Armenia lost to Azerbaijan in the second Karabakh war, it is inferior to Azerbaijan in military and economic capacities, in demographic potential, inferior many times over. And the Armenian authorities indulge the illusion that they can make up for all their weaknesses and losses in the field of international diplomacy, counting on the Armenian diaspora, active in a number of important countries, such as the United States, France and Russia, to score some goals against Azerbaijan in this field. But these are all illusions, for several reasons.
First, in the context of the global crisis that we are currently experiencing, Azerbaijan’s role and authority in the world has increased significantly. As the largest South Caucasus country with great energy resources, Azerbaijan is a bridge between China in Asia and Europe, a bridge between Russia and Iran with access to the ocean routes to India. We witness the growing role of Azerbaijan in various international agreements, visits of major international delegations, in new projects. That is why it is an illusion to think that Armenia will manage to somehow harm Azerbaijan in the foreign policy arena.
International law itself is going through a crisis right now, with most international organizations in deep paralysis. What can we say about the United Nations, which has been unable for decades to get Armenia to implement its four resolutions strongly demanding the withdrawal of Armenian occupation troops from the territory of Azerbaijan? Does Armenia really think in the current situation that if some pro-Armenian forces in the US Congress, or in the European Parliament, or in UN agencies put forward some proposal, or make an attack against Azerbaijan with their piece of paper, that this can change Azerbaijan’s policy and the balance of power in our region? Illusions!
Like a drowning man grasping at straws, Armenia is simply trying to find some magic cure capable of changing the balance of power in our region. But there is no such magic cure. The only real way for Armenia to survive and grow is a policy of good-neighborliness, an agreement with Azerbaijan and Turkey to open the borders, and the renunciation of all territorial claims against Azerbaijan and Turkey. This is the only way to get Armenia out of the dead end it has driven itself into. But so far, Armenia has been frantically trying to make peace-loving statements, while in fact sabotaging the peace process, and I think that this policy will lead Armenia to another domestic political crisis, which is what we are seeing in Yerevan these days.
Pashinyan said again yesterday that Armenia was ready to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan if our troops withdrew from the “Armenian territory as demarcated within the borders of the USSR”. One gets the impression that this man has put a sack on his head and cannot see where he is going.
Even Armenian experts are finding it difficult to comment on Pashinyan’s ramblings. Because, as practice has shown, Pashinyan is a skillful manipulator of public opinion, someone used to rallies and passionate statements. He has accomplished something there, seeing how he became prime minister on a wave of strong protests. But this has nothing to do with big politics, with state-building, with building an effective foreign policy course. It is a waste of precious time to discuss Pashinyan’s delusional statements from the point of view of political analysis. Pashinyan has failed to honor all his promises to Azerbaijan, Russia, the European Union, the United States, and other foreign policy partners during his term. He twists and turns depending on the situation, he tries to manipulate public opinion, his statements have a 24-hour shelf life and therefore all his delusional statements are worthless.
Armenia is in the midst of a sociopolitical turmoil: the opposition demands Pashinyan’s early impeachment, while people, tired of uncertainty and poverty, protest on the streets. Do you think a wise and loyal leader, nurtured behind the scenes specifically to improve the political, social, and economic climate in Armenia, will ever sit in the prime minister’s chair?
Pashinyan drove himself into this quagmire. He had a window of opportunity right after the second Karabakh war, he announced early parliamentary elections, and he managed to get a majority and stay in power. This majority was in fact the votes of people who did not want to continue the military conflict with Azerbaijan. They were shocked by Armenia’s losses in the second Karabakh war. They voted for peace with Azerbaijan, because the opposition was demanding revenge, accusing Pashinyan of betrayal, and everyone knew that if the opposition came to power, it would mean a continued confrontation with Azerbaijan.
In the early elections, the Armenian society gave Pashinyan a chance to negotiate peace in the region with Azerbaijan and Turkey. But because of his political weakness and inexperience Pashinyan did not use this window of opportunity. He decided to flirt with Kocharyan and Sargsyan’s team, with the revanchists who lost the elections, began to sabotage the peace process, and now it turns out that he is not fit for war, just as he is not fit for peace, because he constantly lies to his partners.
He went so far as to say that Armenia does not need a peace treaty, and that they are not obliged to open the Zangezur corridor, although it was clearly stated in the trilateral statement that a corridor to Nakhchivan is to be opened for unhindered movement along this route. The conclusion that follows from all this is that Armenia will experience waves of crises, there will be new losses and deprivations, until reasonable people who want to establish good neighborly relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey come to power. Geopolitics is based on geographical realities and a military-economic balance. Without peace with Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia has no future, the country will be doomed to disappear.