"Baku and Moscow's goal is to derail the peace process" - Armenian political scientist
Baku and negotiations on the Western platform
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan often speaks of the political will to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, and insists on the possibility of signing the document in the coming months. However, he does not forget to emphasize that he cannot “sign it alone”, i.e. a similar intention is needed from the Azerbaijani side. The Prime Minister’s team even talks about the possibility of signing the agreement before the end of the year.
The expert community does not share this optimism, recalling the recent cancelation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit talks in Granada and Brussels. And now Azerbaijan has also refused a meeting at the level of foreign ministers scheduled for November 20 in Washington.
Until recently Azerbaijan accused France of bias, and after the congressional hearings on the Karabakh issue it announced the “unilateral approach” of the United States.
“We have clearly stated that relations with Azerbaijan after September 19 [the military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, as a result of which all Armenians left their homes] will not be normal until we see progress in the peace talks. For this reason, we canceled several high-level visits and condemned Baku’s actions. The 907th Amendment, which prohibits military assistance to Azerbaijan, will remain in force until the situation improves,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien said during the hearing.
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Robert Ghevondyan, political scientist
It is possible to sign a road map, but not a peace agreement
“There is a possibility of signing some kind of document, given that 2024 is an election year. They will be held in the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Parliament. In the midst of these electoral processes, it is quite possible that at some point the power centers will come to a consensus and Armenia and Azerbaijan will be forced to sign something under this international pressure.
If this happens, it will not be a final document, a peace agreement, but, for example, a road map. Or a document that will say that the parties commit not to use force and to continue negotiations.
I do not see the possibility of signing an agreement in the near future, of reaching agreements on such important issues for Armenia and Azerbaijan as delimitation, demarcation, unblocking of infrastructures.”
Attempt to move the negotiations to the Russian platform
“Armenia is now under pressure. Moscow and Baku, as well as Ankara, are trying to force the Armenian authorities to go to Moscow for talks. But this pressure does not yield results.
The Armenian side manages to resist this pressure, to defend its position. And the only tool to counter these challenges is diversification, i.e. involvement of other players. First of all, we are talking about the Western partners, as well as Iran, India and other countries. The combined position of this group allows Yerevan to resist the pressure of Moscow, Baku and Ankara.”
No intention of reaching final agreements
“Azerbaijan is in euphoria after the victory. If we assess objectively, then yes, it is not in its interests to make any concessions or to retreat from its demands. And its demands are inexhaustible. That is why Baku is trying to disrupt negotiations on all those platforms where it is possible to achieve at least an intermediate result.
In the case of the Moscow format, there will be no final agreements. Russia is interested in leaving unresolved issues in the conflict in order to continue playing on them. And at the moment Azerbaijan’s interests coincide with this position. It is for this reason that Azerbaijanis are trying to move the negotiations to Moscow, so that an agreement is not reached and the process is prolonged.”
Russia and Azerbaijan are united by common goals
“There is also the issue of unblocking regional communications and control over them. Here we should talk about the so-called “Zangezur corridor” to connect Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan. And Russia needs it much more than Azerbaijan or even Turkey. Moscow is the first beneficiary of this corridor and intends to control it. But the agenda is formed not around the “Zangezur corridor”, but on all points on which there is no consensus and it is very difficult to agree.
For example, if Armenia suddenly decided to agree to provide a “corridor” [i.e. a road that it would not control itself], Russia and Azerbaijan would find something else to demand. Something that would be problematic for Armenia. For example, the issue of enclaves would arise, which, by the way, they are already starting to talk about. We could also raise the issue of return of Azerbaijanis to Yerevan.
Moscow and Baku are united by interest, a common goal – to prevent the signing of the agreement and only after that common approaches on roads and other issues.”
Baku will find it increasingly difficult not to return to the Western platform
“At the moment, relations between Baku and Washington have deteriorated more than relations between Yerevan and Moscow. And this has become a serious problem for Azerbaijan. There are, of course, many different factors. But let’s leave them for now and consider the situation as it is now: the war in Ukraine, the war between Israel and Palestine. In this situation, it will be increasingly difficult for Azerbaijan to resist and not to return to the Western platform.
The pressure on Baku is increasing. Although Azerbaijan is an authoritarian state operating under the auspices of Russia, at the same time it is financially, economically dependent on the West. In terms of exports, Baku is also energy dependent on Europe and the collective West. Forcing Azerbaijan to do something through all these factors is only a matter of desire for the West.
But Azerbaijan, encouraged by its victories, is not quite realistic about the situation and will come out of its euphoria with painful blows. At least, there are such symptoms. After more than 20 years, the restoration of the 907 amendment is already a sign of serious damage for Baku.”
Will Baku return to negotiations on the Western platform?