Op-ed: who will replace Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan?
Following the cessation of fighting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian armies in the Karabakh conflict zone on November 10, protests broke out in Armenia which continue at the time of publication of this article, demanding the resignation of PM Nikol Pashinyan and annulment of the truce.
- ‘I take personal responsibility for this’ – Armenian PM on situation in Karabakh
- ‘We got the most we possibly could’ – comments from Baku politicians, observers
Georgian expert Tornike Sharashenidze, Doctor of International Relations and professor of GIPA on what has changed for the three countries of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, after the 45-day ‘second Karabakh war’.
What happened in Karabakh and how has the region changed?
I never expected it would go this far.
I thought Russia would continue to supply Armenia with weapons, but it looks like the drones have changed everything. Azerbaijan destroyed Armenia’s equipment, which it had in large quantities. The drones showed that there was a revolution in the military sphere. So I think that for Russia, at least to some extent, this was all a surprise.
Now the most important question is what will happen in Armenia—who will replace Pashinyan, whose days as prime minister are clearly numbered?
Will the old pro-Russian regime return to power, or will a more Western-oriented government come to power? But where would this pro-Western government come from? Should it have a leader? We’ve seen what happened to the last one. After Pashinyan, no one would dare to claim this type of leadership. This country is now in a state of shock.
The same cannot be said about Azerbaijan. Today Azerbaijan is much stronger than it was, and this changes many things in the region.
Yes, Azerbaijan is our partner, but it’s one thing to have a close partner with equal power to us, and another to have a close partner who is much stronger than you in all respects. Georgia must take this reality into account.
As for Turkey and Russia – apparently, at this stage, they have made some kind of deal. Russia intervened in the situation in Syria, which was considered a zone of Turkish influence, and in return Russia allowed Turkey to intervene at a certain level in the situation in the Caucasus.
What does this change for Georgia?
Georgia clearly avoided a worst-case scenario—those of us who followed this situation feared that in the event that the conflict escalated, Russia would require a corridor through Georgia to move troops. This didn’t happen, and that’s good for us.
It is in Georgia’s best interests that this agreement leads to peace in the region. This is important for us from an economic point of view, if only because we are dependent on transit.
I do not agree with the opinion that Georgia’s transit potential is under threat. On the contrary. I believe our transit position will be further strengthened. Now Azerbaijan has more chances to implement its projects. For example, the Trans-Caspian project, that is, the construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across the Caspian Sea, which will feed into the Shah Deniz gas pipeline and strengthen our position as more gas is transported.
This way, we can get to the point when Shah Deniz will be used to its full potential, and we will get gas practically for free.
As for the presence of Russia in the Caucasus, this is already a fait accompli. The Kremlin already had influence in the region: it already has military bases here, including on our territory, 40 kilometers from Tbilisi. So Russia deploying a military contingent in Karabakh does not really strengthen its position.
Even more remarkable is the fact that Karabakh has created a precedent in the region, stating that territories lost in war can be returned through war. This precedent should inspire particular concern for Sukhumi and Tskhinvali (Abkhazia and South Ossetia).