Opinion from Baku: West does not consider South Caucasus a zone of Russia's interest
South Caucasus will be forced to move closer to the West
The war in Ukraine and its expected outcome can make serious adjustments to the geopolitical situation in the world, and especially in the post-Soviet space. According to Azerbaijani political scientist Shahin Jafarli, in the current situation, the countries of the South Caucasus will be forced to form a closer cooperation with Western countries. “The West does not consider the South Caucasus a zone of Russia’s interests”, he says.
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“EU is more inclined towards bilateral negotiations”
Comparing the agreements between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Sochi at the end of 2021 and in Brussels on April 6, 2022, political observer Shahin Jafarli draws attention to the fact that in a statement which followed the meeting mediated by the head of the European Council, the exact dates are indicated:
“Both in Sochi and Brussels, the issues of delimitation of the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia were discussed. But now we see specific dates – a joint commission should be created before the end of April. It is a very important development.
Another point is also important. In the Sochi statement, participation in the work of the commission as an advisory assistant to the Russian side was discussed.
Although there is a reference to the agreements in Sochi in the Brussels statement, nothing is said about the role of Russia. On the contrary, Charles Michel declares the EU’s readiness to support the process. The EU is more inclined towards bilateral negotiations between the parties to the conflict”.
“West does not considerSouth Caucasus a zone of Russian interests”
In an interview with the BBC, Jafarli also noted that so far the initiative is not in the hands of the European Union:
“But I emphasize that the West does not see this region as a zone of Russian interests. Russia considers the entire post-Soviet space a zone of its exclusive interests and demands that the West accept this. The war in Ukraine is another confirmation of this.
Both in the situation with Ukraine and in the desire of the West to intervene in the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, we can observe the refusal of the Western world to recognize these territories as a zone of Russian interests. This is an important point”.
“Elements of rivalry came to the fore”
The Azerbaijani political scientist is confident that the West will not give up the issue of preparing the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty completely to Russia:
“If we recall the period before the 44-day war, the Western mediators – the United States and France – agreed that Russia should decide this issue. As if unofficially accepted the leadership of the Russian Federation.
But changing geopolitical conditions, as well as tensions between the West and Russia, forced the West to change its policy. Now Western countries are more inclined to compete with Moscow.
In my opinion, after the war in Ukraine, the West will no longer respect the interests of Russia as it did before. Elements of rivalry between these poles have come to the fore.
“Azerbaijan and Armenia will begin to change their positions”
“However, if Russia notices that the processes in the South Caucasus are getting out of its control, it can intervene”, Shahin Jafarli added.
He noted that so far neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia are interested in confrontation with Russia:
“But I think that the results of the Ukrainian crisis will seriously affect the authority and capabilities of Russia in the region. If Russia fails to win the war imposed on Ukraine, this will lead to a change in the geopolitical balance and an increase in the influence of the West.
In such a situation, Azerbaijan and Armenia will begin to change their positions, based on the new geopolitical situation in the world. If the West comes out victorious, then both countries of the South Caucasus will be forced to move closer to the Western civilization and take into account its interests to a greater extent”.
“Russia controls the situation in this part of Karabakh”
According to Jafarli, the problem with the withdrawal of illegal Armenian armed forces from Karabakh will have to be resolved with Russia:
“Undoubtedly, the issue of non-implementation by Armenia of the 4th paragraph of the tripartite statement of November 10, 2020 was raised during the negotiations in Brussels.
Bone of contention: Baku, Yerevan's interpretations of the 4th paragraph of the tripartite statement differ
How do Armenia, Azerbaijan interpret 4th paragraph of tripartite statement? Azerbaijan insists on the withdrawal of illegal armed formations from Karabakh while Armenia believes that Baku misinterprets the text of the 4th paragraph of the statement
I think that Pashinyan is not inclined to create a problem out of this issue. The position of Russia is more important here, because Russia’s peacekeeping contingent is stationed in Karabakh and Russia is the master of the situation in this part of Karabakh. Therefore, I think it is impossible to reach any agreement there without Russia.
But it is possible that in exchange for the provision by the Azerbaijani side of firm security guarantees to the Armenians living in Karabakh, Armenia will agree to withdraw its military personnel from this region of Azerbaijan.
In my opinion, Pashinyan does not carry destructive tendencies in this matter, but there is also a factor of armed local Armenian residents in Karabakh, but they are currently more subordinate to Russia than Armenia”.