"Baku will try to preserve Armenians in NK as a museum piece". Opinion
Armenian political analyst on Baku’s intentions
“Baku will try to preserve Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh as a museum piece to show the world that Armenians live here and have no problems,” says Armenian political scientist Tigran Grigoryan.
He finds it difficult to guess how many Armenians will remain in Nagorno-Karabakh, but he believes that Azerbaijan will populate the region with its own people, and “in 10 years it will be meaningless to talk about the Armenian element”.
According to him, at meetings between Baku and Karabakh Armenians after the hostilities, the creation of a “transitional administration before full integration” is being discussed. Azerbaijan intends to complete this process by December next year, when elections are scheduled, the political analyst believes.
In an interview with an Armenian publication, Grigoryan commented on the military actions in NK, spoke about Armenia’s responsibility in the current situation, as well as the role of the U.S. and Russia.
“With small concessions Armenia was preparing the ground for this situation”
In the expert’s opinion, the situation in NK was prepared by the Armenian authorities with their small concessions to Azerbaijan. Their result was obvious when the Armenian Prime Minister stated that the international community expects Armenia to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and “lower the bar on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh”. At the same time, international players started talking about “the rights and security of NK Armenians”.
Grigoryan says that the Armenian authorities have nullified all available opportunities with their inconsistent policy:
“It was clear that after the defeat in the second Karabakh war, the content of the negotiations could not but change, the new status quo had to be reflected at the negotiating table. But at least some principles and details had to be preserved.”
The election of the president has increased tension
“This escalation was expected to take place in Karabakh earlier, at the time when the presidential elections were taking place. Before the elections, Azerbaijan made specific threats through closed channels,” the political analyst said.
Azerbaijan has been talking about conducting an “anti-terrorist operation” in various closed-door discussions since April 2023, and “internal political developments in Artsakh at least accelerated this process.”
“Russia has given the go-ahead for the start of hostilities.”
According to the expert, the price of this is “the presence of Russian peacekeepers on the ground”. Grigoryan draws attention to the fact that if before the military actions in MK the Azerbaijani side emphasized that peacekeepers here are “deployed temporarily”, after the “anti-terrorist operation” the rhetoric changed dramatically.
“Hikmet Hajiyev [Azerbaijani presidential aide] talks about the presence of peacekeepers until 2025, and that the term of their deployment may even be extended.”
At the same time, Grigoryan notes that talks have intensified about the “Zangezur corridor”, i.e. an extraterritorial corridor through Armenia’s territory, which Azerbaijan demands. According to Grigoryan, if Moscow manages to get Russian presence on this section of the road and control of the railroad track, it will lose nothing even if the peacekeepers leave NK:
“If Russia controls this important transportation hub, by and large, it will be able to maintain control over both Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
“The lion’s share of Armenia’s responsibility”
According to Grigoryan, “shameful internal political processes” took place in Daghlig Garabagh – certain maximalist red lines were outlined, which were later very quickly violated. The analyst emphasizes that there is a tendency in Armenia to blame the NK authorities for all processes, but “the lion’s share of responsibility” in this case is on the Armenian authorities:
“The main problem is that at some stage Armenia simply stepped aside, distanced itself from this issue, tried to show that, say, we have nothing to do with this issue.”
The political scientist explains that on November 9, 2020, with the signing of the statement on cessation of hostilities, the Armenia-Azerbaijan-Russia triangle was formed. But Yerevan itself withdrew from the process, thus bringing it “into the field of Russian-Azerbaijani, we can say, Russian-Turkish agreements”.
“Baku has crossed the US red line, but there are no sanctions”
Grigoryan says that Azerbaijan “carried out ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh, but there was zero reaction from the international community. At the same time, the analyst argues that world actors had the opportunity to prevent it, as Azerbaijan stated it openly, there were even “preparatory visits” before the start of the operation:
“For example, Elchin Amirbayov, one of the prominent figures in Azerbaijan’s foreign policy, traveled to Europe. My colleagues, European experts told me that he came for this very purpose, warned and explained why it was necessary to carry out such an operation”.
As a result, Azerbaijan crossed the red line set by the U.S., escalated, and carried out ethnic cleansing. However, the threats of sanctions voiced during the closed meetings did not become a reality.
“The U.S. has fetishized the peace agreement”
The analyst emphasizes that the United States constantly spoke about the “historical possibility” of signing an agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time, Washington took into account
- Russia’s diminishing role in the region,
- the policy of the Armenian government, which is ready to make unilateral concessions.
“For example, part of this process was that the U.S. even pressured other actors not to pass a resolution in the UN Security Council,” he said.
According to Grigoryan, the Americans were in a hurry to complete the process and fix a “political result” before the US presidential elections.
And now, as the expert says, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem has moved to the humanitarian dimension. And the U.S. is trying to show that it can help in humanitarian issues, but “on other issues – hardly”.
Armenian political analyst on Baku’s intentions