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Zangazur as new political centre for Azerbaijan: Armenia invents problems for itself

1 June 2023 18:00 (UTC+04:00)
Zangazur as new political centre for Azerbaijan: Armenia invents problems for itself

By Emin Sevdimaliyev

The recent political transformations that can be observed in the region are very interesting. Zangazur is becoming a center where the interests of a number of regional players collide. And not only regional ones. For example, quite recently the European Union allocated about 100 million euros for the development of this region, and Iran launched the work of the Consulate General in the region some time ago.

And in recent days it has become known that Russia is preparing to open the doors of the Consulate General in Zangazur, which was positively assessed by the Armenian side.

But what is the reason for such unprecedented activity? In the end, for more than 30 years since the collapse of the USSR, this place was in limbo and no one remembered this region either in Iran, or in Russia, and even more so, in the EU. And now it is under focus of interest.

The reason, if you think about it, is quite simple. All countries "bustled" against the background of expectations that Zangazur will become one of the main transport bridges, which will allow establishing efficient transport links between Europe, Asia, North and South.

These transformations were launched by Azerbaijan, which has been preparing to launch a large-scale geopolitical and economic project for several years. The Zangazur corridor will change the economy of several dozen countries, but Armenia continues to oppose it .

The problem with Armenia's approach is that it does not take into account the position of major players who seek not only to retain the status of regional powers, but also to become global hegemons. We have already described one of these countries - China.

Armenia's position jeopardizes the strategic interests of China, which will certainly not be appreciated in Beijing. We will not repeat the main arguments that we have already offered to our readers, however, we note that the increased interest in Zangazur from the EU, Iran and Russia is fraught with great danger for Armenia.

First of all, the rising interest of each country should be carefully observed. And this basic postulate of the world of politics is very bad news for Armenia, since the interests and needs of the EU, Russia and Iran do not necessarily coincide. As well as methods to achieve these goals.

If you look at the EU, then the grants pumped into Armenia will metaphorically be as giant as Trojan horse. Armenia will not be able to resist the will of Brussels, as the country will lose significant financial support. Another important question is for what purposes these grants will be used. It is impossible to exclude the possibility that another revolution will be initiated in Armenia. In this context, it should be noted that the necessary developments to achieve these goals have long existed in the West. Suffice it to recall the Bulldozer Revolution in the former Yugoslavia, which ended with the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic and, later, tensions spread to a number of other countries.

On the other hand, Iran's foreign policy, at the same time, is difficult to rationalize, though Iran's power projection methods remain standard and highly predictable. At the first need, Tehran will put pressure on Yerevan, seeking concessions. From the Armenian point of view, the situation is complicated by the fact that Iran's methods are, in essence, based on the basic postulates of Machiavellianism and hard power. Of course, we are aware of the destructive influence of Iran on the countries of the Middle East, where pro-Iranian proxies are cultivated. According to the US State Department, Iran has spent about $16 billion to support its proxies in the Middle East from 2012 to 2020. If we add to this the lack of ability to use soft power and Iran's antagonism to all surrounding countries, then the issue of disagreements between Tehran and Yerevan becomes a matter of time.

The last country on this list, but with a very large variety of levers, is Russia. As for the possibilities of the Kremlin's influence, the list is obvious. Armenia is catastrophically dependent on Russia on a wide range of issues, including security and the economy. In the context of political influence, it is necessary to note the membership of Armenia and Russia in a large number of international organizations, which further increases Armenia's dependence on Moscow.

Armenia turns into a point of conflict of interests

Taking into account the possibilities and different approaches of the countries concerned, it is possible to draw a number of conclusions and observations about the challenges that Yerevan will have to deal with.

The first observation is related to the fact that Armenia will have to show considerable dexterity in maneuvering. This is due to the fact that the interests of Russia and Iran, on the one hand, and the EU, on the other hand, are opposite. Brussels sees in Armenia a country that helps Russia avoid sanctions, as we wrote about earlier. The situation in which Armenia finds itself means that the EU, Russia and Iran will have more reasons to be dissatisfied with Armenia. In other words, Armenia will be at the center of a collision between the three political forces.

Not everything is so simple in relations between Iran and Russia. Again, the transactional nature of international politics must be kept in mind, and even between Tehran and Moscow there will be disagreements. The big question is how Armenia will evade pressure in this situation. At the moment, it is difficult to determine any mechanism that will allow Armenia to pursue an independent policy in the event of such a situation.

The second observation follows from the first. Armenia's sovereignty is facing a more serious threat than previously thought. The reason lies in Armenia's inability to oppose anything to the mutually exclusive interests of the three countries. In such a situation, there is a high probability that Yerevan will have to sacrifice its interests in order to appease large forces. The state of Armenian diplomacy does not give grounds to assume that the country will be able to find a way out of such difficult situations by finding a mutually beneficial solution. In other words, Armenia will become a pawn in the geopolitical game of big countries with a very dubious outcome for it.

Point number three is the weakening of opportunities for negotiations with other countries on any issues. The root of this problem, again, lies in the clash of interests of major players, and Yerevan's position on major issues will have to reflect the interests of foreign states. Given their large number, as well as their mutually exclusive interests, the pool of possible solutions to different solutions for Armenia will be very limited. This will make her a weak player in potential negotiations.

As a result, Yerevan will face a wide range of challenges, many of which Armenia does not have an answer to. It is clear that a lot of pressure will be exerted on Armenia very soon on the issue of unblocking transport links and launching the Zangazur corridor. And Armenia itself will be to blame for this, which has been resisting the implementation of the obligations under which it has signed for so long.

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