Op-ed: What does Azerbaijan want from Armenia and what does it accuse Russia of?
Recently, Azerbaijan’s statements about the escalation that took place not only at the border with Armenia but also in Karabakh have become more frequent. Azerbaijan disputes the right of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to have its own armed forces and accuses the Russian peacekeeping contingent “of the inaction and insincerity of its peacekeeping mission in Karabakh”.
One of the Azerbaijani publications even prepared a “sensational material” about the transfer of servicemen of the Armenian Armed Forces to the NKR “with the tacit consent of the Russian peacekeeping forces”.
Azerbaijan is artificially stirring up tension, the Armenian Foreign Ministry believes, and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces are causing political problems, by intensifying “their provocative actions both against the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia and against units of the Artsakh Defense Army”.
- Baku blames Russian peacekeepers for recent fire exchange in Karabakh
- Commentary from Yerevan: Why the fighting continues at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border?
- Сommentary from Baku: What are the causes of tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border?
- Post-war life of displaced residents of Nagorno-Karabakh
Azerbaijan also accuses Russia of not ensuring the full withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from Karabakh. According to the agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh, signed by the heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, the Armenian Armed Forces should no longer be present here, the Azerbaijani side believes.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response, which says that the Azerbaijani side “openly distorts” the content of this document:
“The NKR Defense Army, together with Russian peacekeepers, ensure the security and right to life of the Artsakh people”.
Armenian experts explain the reasons behind the Azerbaijani policy and its end goals.
Director of the Caucasus Institute political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan
Baku pressures Karabakh to gain advantages in Armenia
“The tripartite statement on Karabakh of November 9, 2020 [on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh] does not say anything about the Artsakh army. The fourth point of the well-known statement reads that “the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces”. And here we are talking about the army of the Republic of Armenia.
Usually, in unrecognized countries, through negotiations, some kind of agreement is reached on the presence of certain forces in order to protect the local population.
Their armaments are limited, reduced to small arms. In the case of Artsakh, there are simply no such agreements.
None of this is stated in the trilateral statement. It has not been discussed what the NK army should be like, what its strength might be, where it will be deployed, etc. These issues can be negotiated.
But the problem is that Azerbaijan refuses to negotiate within the framework of any format, including the OSCE Minsk Group [via which the peace talks were held before the second Karabakh war].
Azerbaijan does not recognize the existence of Nagorno-Karabakh and it thinks that the problem has been resolved.
In any case, the point on the withdrawal of troops, spelled out in the trilateral statement, concerns the Armenian Armed Forces, not those of Artsakh. Where and how can the citizens of Artsakh, serving in the Artsakh army, be taken out? Azerbaijan simply interprets the statement in its own way and in its own favor.
Unrecognized countries also have their own armies elsewhere in the world. For example, Taiwan has such forces. The was also an army in Kosovo when it was still only partially recognized. There are local police forces in Palestine. There are also several territories that are controlled by the Israeli army, and there are territories that are controlled by the local armed forces, as Hamas, for example, has armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
In recent weeks, Azerbaijan’s attempts to present claims to Russia, not Armenia, have become more evident. This is a form of pressure.
By doing this, Azerbaijan is trying to achieve some advantages for itself.
This is not about the advantages in Artsakh, but about the advantages in Armenia. Azerbaijan is trying to achieve the establishment of a corridor [according to the clause of the trilateral agreement on unblocking transport communications, Azerbaijan demands to open the Zangezur corridor, Armenia insists on a general unblocking of communications], signing a peace treaty with Armenia, and recognition of borders.
It wants to start the process of delimitation and demarcation of borders as soon as possible, to resolve the issue of exclaves and enclaves. Azerbaijan is putting pressure in Karabakh to get something from Armenia”.
Mher Hakobyan, military expert
Azerbaijan discredits Russia in order to have it withdraw it from the region
“Azerbaijan interprets the trilateral statement on Karabakh of November 9, 2020 in its own way. And since there is no mention of Artsakh’s right to have its own armed forces in it, Azerbaijan insists that the Nagorno-Karabakh defense army be disbanded.
The trilateral statement does not state that there should be no Armenian forces in Karabakh. Now the citizens of the NKR serve in Artsakh, besides this, any person can voluntarily serve in the Artsakh army.
Azerbaijan’s aggressive reaction is associated with the presence of Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh. Azerbaijan is nervous about this.
Azerbaijan especially did not like the exercises of Russian peacekeepers held recently in Karabakh. Therefore, the statement about the alleged transfer of military personnel from Armenia to Karabakh, as well as claims against Russia about its inaction and doubts about the sincerity of the peacekeeping mission of the Russian Federation, were sounded precisely after the exercises of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Baku is conducting anti-Russian propaganda, which plays into the hands of Turkey as Turkey does not benefit from Russia’s presence in Karabakh either.
It knows very well that it will be difficult for Armenians to defend themselves in the post-war situation on their own”.
Karen Hovhannisyan, military expert
Azerbaijan tries to replace Russia with Turkey
“The goal of Azerbaijan is to present the Russian peacekeepers as a party to the conflict with a biased position and to have it withdraw from the region or, along with the Russian contingent, to involve Turkish troops in the peacekeeping mission.
But Azerbaijan lacks the leverage to achieve all this.
Azerbaijan also talks about “the creation of new [Armenian] posts near the villages of Mkhitarashen and Shosh in Karabakh” and is trying to justify its aggressive actions by this.
However, neither the trilateral statements on Karabakh of November 9, 2020 nor of January 11, 2021, state that Armenia has no right to ensure the safety of local residents”.
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