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Will Yerevan stick to commitments for peace? [ANALYSIS]

1 January 2024 09:00 (UTC+04:00)
Will Yerevan stick to commitments for peace? [ANALYSIS]
Elnur Enveroglu
Elnur Enveroglu
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Although many commentators have marked 2020 as the most turbulent year for Armenia, it can also be considered the most successful turning year for the future of Armenia and the security of the region as a whole. There is a saying that you can't judge a book by its cover. Although Armenia started 2020 with a defeat, we would not be wrong to say that in the end a more favorable result was reached for both Azerbaijan and Armenia.

For 30 years, the frozen conflict did not bring dividends to either side. Just occupying the empty territories, Armenia could not achieve any progress due to its economic backwardness and the lack of border relations with both neighboring states (Azerbaijan and Turkiye). The empty territories in the occupied Garabagh and Zangazur regions were rendered unusable by the Armenian military units. In fact, since the 1990s, Armenia has caught up in its euphoria and could not see the realities in the region. The first Garabagh war created a deceptive impression on Armenia and had a serious impact on the country's economic development. Yerevan thought that the coming decades would gradually archive the Garabagh conflict and with the support it received from the West and the neighboring states, it would be able to freeze the long-standing conflict. But the reality did not reflect this. Because Armenia could not even imagine what the achievements of the other side, that is, Azerbaijan, would give it in the past 30 years. From the 1990s to 2020, there was already an enormous turn in the economy of Azerbaijan. In Armenia, on the contrary, what was achieved was almost exhausted. The most tragic point was that Armenia was not aware of the situation that it was in.

When Nikol Pashinyan, the Prime Minister of Armenia came to power after the revolution in 2018, he was conscious of the situation in his country. Even at the initial stage of his rule, he mentioned several times that he would take a more adequate step in restoring relations with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan was aware of the fact that a criminogenic situation had arisen around him. Because the Garabagh clan, which threatened him while he was in power, was Russia's closest ally. Pashinyan, who won the prime minister's chair with the support of the Western allies, saw a concrete step regarding the Garabagh issue only in war. Because otherwise serious threats to his life were expected.

In fact, the Second Garabagh War was more a war between the Garabagh clan and its separatist forces against Azerbaijan than the Pashinyan authority. Nikol Pashinyan, knowing that he would be defeated, chose this war as a guarantor of his future destiny, and with no surprise after his defeat, he was able to regain his post.

But how did it happen that the Armenian government, which neglected the fate of Garabagh in the South Caucasus, was once again supported by the West, which wanted to prolong the conflict?

First of all, it should be noted that Armenia has a close relationship with France, which is the leading power in the European Union, and this always creates opportunities for the forces that control Armenia from abroad to intervene in the South Caucasus region. In general, Armenia is the only springboard that can satisfy the West's interest in the region, as well as against its rival Russia. For this reason, Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, who lost more than 5,000 manpower and nearly 38.5 billion US dollars in the war, was supported both within the country and by the Western forces he was allied with.

Of course, the political position of the Armenian leadership did not satisfy Russia. The situation was already beginning to take on a dual nature – Yerevan, on the one hand, recognised Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, on the other hand, it supported the illegal separatist regime in Garabagh. Time was very short for Pashinyan because any decision made could have an immediate impact on the situation in the region. The only thing that was impossible was that Armenia had the potential to resort to war again. For this reason, Armenia has to sacrifice a group of separatist cliques operating illegally in Garabagh.

Pashinyan defeated his biggest rivals

The separatist remnants that formed terrorist groups in Garabagh were actually more of an open threat to the Armenian authorities than to Azerbaijan. Because the "heads" of representatives of the separatist forces tried to gain power by overthrowing Pashinyan at any moment. Therefore, the most reliable center for them was Yerevan rather than Garabagh. However, the spontaneously planned mission was leading the separatist forces to surrender to Azerbaijan every day - simply no option was left for them to turn back.

Pashinyan's move further infuriates Russia

As the Garabagh conflict was resolved in favor of Azerbaijan rifts began to grow between Russia and Pashinyan's government. Pashinyan's accusation of Russia leaving Armenia helpless was a kind of excuse to get his collar off Moscow's grips. But when the matter is approached from the context of truth, it creates a different picture. While serving the West, Pashinyan could not pursue a common policy with Russia. For this reason, the processes led to both Armenia's desire to leave the CSTO, and the demand to withdraw the 102nd Russian military base from the territory of Armenia.

In 2024, leadership of the Eurasian Economic Union will symbolically pass from Russia to Armenia. At the summit held on December 25 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan emphasized that the Eurasian Economic Union should be focused on purely economic issues and should not include any "political and geopolitical agenda". According to the Prime Minister of Armenia, the fact that the union is related to political ambitions is against the principles of the institution.

"The basic freedoms of trade and Eurasian integration cannot and should not be restricted for political reasons, as this will lead to the erosion of the basic principles of the union," Pashinyan said.

However, it is still questionable what Armenia thinks about the peace treaty with Azerbaijan in 2024.

The incumbent Armenian leadership, which is trying to further distance itself from Russia, says that it will fully resolve its obligations in the peace issue as of this year. Yerevan has already received Azerbaijan's package of peace proposals, and one of its provisions is the opening of the Zangazur corridor, the most strategic line of communication. In addition, the peace agreement to be signed between the parties does not mean the final solution of all issues. All this, of course, will depend on Armenia fulfilling certain obligations contained in the package of proposals from this moment on.

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Elnur Enveroglu is AzerNews’ Deputy Editor-in-Chief, follow him on @ElnurMammadli1

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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