Op-ed: Armenia and Azerbaijan have no say, Russia has the final word
- Demarcation and delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,
- Unblocking regional communications.
Rumor has it that the texts of both documents are almost ready, and the heads of the two states intend to sign them. This information has already been officially denied three times – by the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the speaker of the parliament, and then the secretary of the Security Council. But the discussion continues, as at the same time there is information that Armenia is ready to start the process of demarcation and delimitation of borders and supports the planned unblocking of communications in the region.
The excitement is caused by the fact that, according to rumors, the signing is scheduled for November 9 – the day of the end of the second Karabakh war, in which Armenia was defeated. This is perceived as a subtext indicating possible negative formulations and decisions for Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Commentary on the situation and the issues that are most discussed in Armenia from political scientist Garik Keryan. This is a slightly different point of view, which does not coincide with the opinion of the majority of local experts, in particular, on the issue of border demarcation.
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JAMnews: The Secretary of the Security Council told reporters today that Armenia is ready to start the process of demarcation and delimitation and is only waiting for a positive signal from Azerbaijan. The Foreign Minister said that following the Pashinyan-Aliyev meeting, “it is possible to publish some agreed text”. In your opinion, will such a document be signed on November 9? When and how will the process of demarcation and delimitation be organized?
Keryan: I cannot say for sure whether this document will be signed on November 9 or another day, but I am sure that this should happen.
A peaceful settlement and the elimination of the threat of a new war are impossible without demarcation and delimitation.
In the course of the Karabakh conflict, Armenia actually did not have an internationally recognized border with Azerbaijan, there is no agreement on the border, which negatively affects relations between the two countries.
The state as a subject of international law is recognized primarily as its territory, and the territory at the political level is outlined by borders, and not by geographic concepts. If there is a state that does not have internationally recognized borders, that is a problem in itself.
By the way, states are carrying out demarcation and delimitation not with international structures, but each with their neighbors. All countries, without exception, strive to have their borders recognized and conclude appropriate agreements with their neighbors.
Since Soviet times, the border with Iran and Turkey has been fixed and delineated. It remains for us to complete this process with Azerbaijan and Georgia. There is no need to rush with Georgia – there is no conflict, there is no threat of war.
JAMnews: Following Putin, the prime minister and other Armenian officials began to say that maps of the 1920s could become the basis for drawing borders. What kind of map will become the base for it?
Keryan: In analytical, expert circles, no one can answer this question. Because only Putin, Pashinyan and Aliyev know this. Putin stressed that these maps are there, they are kept at the General Staff of the Russian army, but did not indicate a specific year.
After that, experts in Armenia began to study maps from the Soviet period. I noticed that a number of cartographers expressed concern about the differences in the administrative and political division of the USSR on the maps of the 1920s and 50s, 60s, 70s.
In the process of correcting these maps during the Soviet era, the refinements were always carried out to the detriment of Armenia. As a result of these adjustments, after 1922, Soviet Armenia lost 2,000-3,000 square kilometers. This is not my opinion, the cartographers think so.
In my opinion, if demarcation and delimitation are carried out according to the early maps of the 1920s, it will be beneficial for Armenia, if the latest maps are used – for Azerbaijan.
It is up to Russia to decide which map the political leadership of this country will propose to take as a basis.
JAMnews: Speaking about unblocking regional communications, Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan assured that all roads will retain the status of the sovereign territory of the state through which they pass. What risks can lie for Armenia under the wording “all economic and transport connections in the region are unblocked”?
Keryan: Unblocking transport and other infrastructures is definitely beneficial for Armenia, because one of the main reasons for our weakness and defeat in the war was the 30-year blockade of Armenia and the need to overcome difficulties with communications.
Undoubtedly, unblocking will help revitalize the economic life of Armenia. This is an axiom, it is non-negotiable.
The Armenian side is concerned only with the status of the road on which Azerbaijan and Turkey are concentrated – a vital road connecting Azerbaijan with [its exclave] Nakhichevan.
Naturally, Armenia strives to ensure that this is an ordinary road on which the Armenian authorities will exercise customs, tax and other control. Azerbaijan strives to ensure that the Armenian side does not control the situation.
It seems to me that neither the plans of Armenia nor Azerbaijan will be realized. Most likely, this will be a road that will be controlled by the Russian side.
It will be very similar to the Lachin road, which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and which [after the second Karabakh war] is not controlled by either the Armenian or Azerbaijani side, as the control is given to Russian peacekeepers.
JAMnews: “Artsakh will never be a part of Azerbaijan”, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Armenia say. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan states that the normalization of relations should take place after the mutual recognition of the territorial integrity, which implies the recognition of this territory as part of Azerbaijan. How can a sustainable peace be achieved in such a situation?
Keryan: In the course of the entire negotiation process, one of the principles of Armenia was the recognition of the right to self-determination. Armenia’s position has always been that this is not a territorial dispute, it is a question of self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
If the OSCE Minsk Group [within the framework of which negotiations were held on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict before the war of 2020] revives and begins to discuss the issue of the status of Artsakh, naturally, this principle will return to the negotiation table, that is, they will again proceed in the same way – a peaceful settlement of the conflict, territorial integrity of states and recognition of the right to self-determination.
Armenia never said that it demands the territory of Azerbaijan, Armenia demanded recognition of the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination.
Recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan does not mean the “burial” of the Karabakh issue.
I repeat, we have been saying for 30 years that this is not a territorial issue, but a question of self-determination.
The experts, unanimously claim that if we recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Karabakh will remain a part of Azerbaijan, are wrong. Of course, if the Minsk Group does not revive, Russia, France and the United States [the co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group] will not demand clarification of the status issue, then perhaps this will be the end of the NKR’s existence. But we can happily note that all three states say: the issue of status has not been resolved.
JAMnews: Armenia is the guarantor of the security of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, but after the war, its security is ensured by Russian peacekeepers. How will the security issue be resolved further?
Keryan: Armenia is not the guarantor of the NKR’s security after the war. The guarantor is Russia and its peacekeeping forces.
The future of Artsakh depends not on the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations, but on the position of Russia in relations with Azerbaijan and on the continuation of the negotiation process within the framework of the Minsk Group on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.