PM Pashinyan: Azerbaijani Armed Forces' aggression growing on Armenian borders
Tensions are growing along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and there is a “tendency of increased aggression” of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced during the meeting of the Security Council on May 17.
In an attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis, Armenia has already requested assistance from the Collective Security Treaty and the Armenian-Russian strategic system.
The in the Syunik region on the southern border of Armenia has worsened since May 12 when the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have reportedly advanced their positions several kilometers deep into the territory of Armenia – in the direction of the Sev Lich reservoir (Black Lake).
“I must say that this is a pre-planned provocation by Azerbaijan. They have fake maps that supposedly should prove that the lake belongs to them, but these are obviously fake documents. Our task is to keep the sovereign territory of Armenia inviolable”, Nikol Pashinyan said on May 13.
On the same day, he instructed the Foreign and Defense Ministers to apply to the CSTO military bloc, of which Armenia is a member, to start consultations on resolving the matter.
This, not the first time that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have attempted to advance into the territories of Armenia. On May 13, the Armenian Defense Ministry reported that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, under the pretext of “clarifying the borders”, tried to advance their positions in the Vardenis region (Gegharkunik region).
Until late in the evening of May 16, negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani military took place.
After they ended, Naira Zohrabyan MP from the Prosperous Armenia faction posted on her Facebook page that the results of the negotiations were “positive for us,” and that on the following day, the Azerbaijani armed forces would leave the territory near the lake.
Some of the Azerbaijani servicemen have retreated however, acting PM Pashunyan stated that regardless of that, the situation on the Armenian- Azerbaijani border has not changed significantly and negotiations will continue on May 19.
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Acting Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that the Azerbaijani military personnel who crossed the border of Armenia, have left the country since May 14:
“There was a similar process last night, there are signs that this may happen today, but in general, I consider the military-political situation unchanged since May 12.
This means that we must continue to use the CSTO mechanisms, as well as work on the involvement of the Armenian-Russian allied mechanisms. Our position is unambiguous: Azerbaijani servicemen must leave the borders of Armenia”.
PM Pashinyan also noted that Armenia’s position on the issue of the pressing need for the Azerbaijani Armed Forces to retreat from the country’s territory has also remained unchanged in the ongoing negotiations.
Until this happens, Yerevan regards the situation as a crisis that poses a threat to the sovereignty, stability, and territorial integrity of the country.
Political scientist Norayr Dunamalyan presented his point of view as follows:
“This is not a fight for Sev Lich or Kut, but for Karvachar [the territory adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani name is Kelbajar] and Shushi [the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani name is Shusha]. I think the Azerbaijanis understand how the desperate position of their troops in Karvachar will be in the event of a war (also with the participation of the Russians) since the only way their troops can get to Azerbaijan is through the Omar mountain pass, which is very problematic and poses a risk of armed forces getting into a blockade.
Today the only road connecting Azerbaijan with Karvachar passes through the Nagorno-Karabakh. The same problem is true for Shushi: despite the fact that the road near the Red Bazaar is still open for Azerbaijanis, in the event of an escalation, the Fizuli-Shushi road which is currently under construction will become dangerous.
Thus, the enemy is trying to advance into the sovereign territory of Armenia, posing a threat to the infrastructure of Gegharkunik and Syunik.
On the other hand, there is a visible threat coming from Nakhichevan, which could lead to the blockade of Syunik. By occupying strategically important positions, Azerbaijan is implementing two programs: the “minimum” plan – to ensure the security of troops in Karvachar and Shushi, and the “maximum” plan – to prepare for a new regional war.
Consequently, we end up with a revolving door effect when all parties are vulnerable. In any case, the solution to the crisis will be temporary, such provocations will continue, and we must be prepared for any development of the situation”.
Political scientist Suren Sargsyan also commented on what is happening in Syunik. In his opinion, this is a provocation – not only against the Armenians, but also against the Russians, which was perpetrated not by Azerbaijan, but by Turkey:
“I have always held the opinion that the war is not over yet, because none of the participants of the war and interested parties are satisfied with its results. […]
- Now the Russians (CSTO) have been presented with a fact and they can either conduct a special operation and face the Azerbaijanis directly, or try to make concessions on some issues with Turkey.
- Turkey ( and West) has only one desire – for Russia to either end its military presence in the region and only compete for economic influence in the South Caucasus (see the example of Georgia), or for Turkey (i.e. NATO) to also have a military presence in a country bordering on Russia.
- There is another scenario in which Russia is not involved in the conflict and Baku continues its offensive in Syunik. If we had adequate leadership and armed forces, we would take on the third scenario and stopped the process. Alas”.
The political scientist also explained why Syunik is important for Russia, Turkey, the United States and Iran.
“Syunik is the external border of Iran and its access to the Eurasian Economic Union (which it wants to join) and its only land border with the EAEU. If Iran loses this border, it will be completely dependent on Turkey (NATO). Iran would also lose its access to the Persian Gulf and Europe (via Armenia and Georgia). I think in this paragraph I have done enough to describe the interests of the United States and Israel.
For Turkey, Syunik provides an opportunity to implement the ‘Great Turan’ project which will significantly strengthen Turkey’s influence in the Islamic, Turkish world. With this project, Turkey will become a global superpower (like the US and China).
In addition, the oil and gas resources of the countries of Central Asia (and not only Central Asia) will pass through Syunik (it may be part of Azerbaijan or Turkey), as a result of which Europe will not depend on Russia, as it is now, but exclusively on Turkey. I think that in this paragraph I also described the interests of Russia.
In addition, Russia’s influence will be significantly reduced not only in Europe, but also in Central Asia. At the same time, the Russian military base in Syunik is located in close proximity to Turkey with all the ensuing consequences.
Here is a bit of historical background – back in 1992, Turkish President Ozal convinced Bush: “Let’s exchange Syunik for Karabakh. Karabakh – to Armenians, Syunik – to Azerbaijan. All pipelines go to Russia or pass through the territory of Russia. Even Turkmen gas now flows through Russia. With my plan, we can connect this pipeline to Turkey through Azerbaijan and lead it to Europe. These countries need access to Europe and not through the territory of Russia”.