"Yerevan cherishes the hopes for exacerbation of relations between Azerbaijan and Iran"
    Foreign experts' opinions on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  16 March 2023 - 13:23

    Samir Ibrahimov

    Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a news conference on March 14 that he considers the likelihood of a new war with Azerbaijan high. "There is now a very high probability of escalation both along the Armenian border and in Karabakh," the prime minister said. That is why Armenia has invited observers from the European Union, he added. According to Pashinya, the international community must recognise the high level of new escalation threat.

    It is curious, of course, what exactly Pashinyan has in mind. What conditions must arise for a new war to become inevitable? What could trigger full-scale hostilities? And to what consequences in the region could all this lead? Should not Yerevan ponder over the fact that its slowness in signing a peace treaty with Azerbaijan (2 years and 4 months have passed since the end of the Second Karabakh War), as well as provocations of the Armenian armed forces, are bringing the likelihood of a new war closer?

    Foreign analysts have shared their thoughts on the matter with Caliber.Az.

    Pavlo Lakiychuk, the military expert of the Kyiv Centre "Strategy XXI", has reminded that in February the Armenian-Azerbaijani dialogue saw a long-expected breakthrough: the meeting of the heads of the two states with the mediation of the US state secretary Anthony Blanken took place on February 18 in Munich.

    "Following this meeting, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev assured that Baku was ready to initiate practical contacts with the Karabakh Armenian community. A meeting between Baku and Khankendi representatives followed this statement. However, this course of events does not seem positive to anyone - a few days after the meeting, on March 5, a shootout occurred in the vicinity of Khankendi. Karabakh separatists claimed an alleged sabotage attack by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces...," Lakiychuk noted.

    On March 9, at the opening ceremony of the X Global Baku Forum "Peace Today: Challenges and Hopes", Ilham Aliyev stressed that there were no objective obstacles to achieving peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. "What was agreed between Azerbaijan and Armenia last October, in particular with regard to respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, in fact, demonstrates that there are no obstacles to achieving peace," he said. At the same time, Aliyev noted that as a result of aggression against Azerbaijan, Yerevan has become dependent on "another country," which dictates its will, prompting it to act far from the real interests of the countries of the region. "They have become totally dependent, a kind of colony of another country. Because of the aggression against us, they missed their chance to become truly independent and build their future... Now they have a chance to start behaving like a neighbour to their neighbours. We want peace. We don't want another war. And we think that peace is achievable," Aliyev said.

    "So, the 'third country' does not want peace in the Caucasus. But if you remove the behind-the-scenes puppeteer from the 'game', the peoples of the Caucasus will, I am sure, find a path to peace in the region, however difficult and complicated," believes Pavlo Lakiychuk.

    In turn, Russian political scientist and professor at St. Petersburg State University Stanislav Tkachenko believes that by viewing the current situation in relations with Azerbaijan as unfavourable, the Armenian leadership is trying to disrupt the status quo by involving additional external players in the confrontation.

    "Once Yerevan realised that Russia would not give up its mediation mission, expressed in a diplomatic course that is impartial and neutral towards the parties to the conflict, Yerevan began to pin its main hopes on the European Union and Iran.

    The EU mission in Armenia, of 100 observers, located along the border with Azerbaijan, is politically advantageous to Yerevan; it is actively portrayed as friendly and sharing some of Yerevan's goals in the conflict. However, it is already clear that the mission cannot influence the course of the conflict and the prospects for a peaceful resolution in a way that is beneficial to Armenia.

    Yerevan's main expectations are therefore now related to the aggravation of relations between Azerbaijan and Iran. This is an unexpected turn of events for the region, opening up a new line of confrontation with more players and higher stakes in the conflict. However, it is too early to talk about a full-scale conflict, the parties (Baku and Tehran) are just assessing the initial positions and options of confrontation development," says the professor.

    According to Russian experts, noted Tkachenko, the positions of the parties regarding the transfer of the conflict to the stage of complete rupture of diplomatic relations and military confrontation are still being determined.

    "Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel until recently could be imagined as limited in scope and aimed only at improving bilateral relations. But the new development in the region makes us see it in a broader context. The re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia may have the overall effect of increasing pressure by Muslim states in the region on Israel. Such a development could also have an adverse side effect on Baku. With the United States and the EU locked in conflict with Russia, Türkiye recovering from a disastrous earthquake, and Washington's attention distracted by its standoff with China, military cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel could diminish to a dangerous level for Baku.

    In my view, it is these considerations that are driving Yerevan's policy now of delaying the signing of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, fulfilling the terms of the Trilateral Karabakh ceasefire statement of November 10, 2020, and revising the outcome of the 44-day war. An analysis of the current disposition of forces and the statements already made by the parties do not indicate that the conflict is imminent. But there are no obvious ways to swiftly and permanently de-escalate either," Professor Tkachenko concluded.

    Caliber.Az

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