“Pashinyan getting on Moscow's nerves”
Russian, Kazakh pundits on Caliber.Az
INTERVIEWS 28 May 2023 - 16:14
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan seems to have set himself such a task by travelling to Moscow. As always, he hoped to gain some negotiating preferences by demonstrating intransigence and stubbornness.
The first, i.e. the disruption of negotiations on such a vital issue for the entire South Caucasus, and not only for it, as the conclusion of peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, he almost succeeded. Almost, because he did make some progress. But mostly because the Armenian prime minister's intention was immediately spotted by his main opponent Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and the moderator of the meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the heads of the EAEU member-states, since his ridiculous attacks and accusations were made in public at the meeting of the Council of this organization.
Their faces expressed nothing but irony and even contempt (these were the images repeated over and over again by Russian news channels). The Armenian leader, contrary to his expectations, did not win the sympathy of anyone but brought plenty of shame on his head.
What goals does Armenia pursue by once again diverting the negotiation process towards public demagogy, what in principle does Pashinyan seek, what is the logic behind his behaviour? Russian and Kazakhstani political experts answered these questions for Caliber.Az.
Kazakhstani political scientist Sharip Ishmukhamedov notes that there are two reasons for the discussion that Pashinyan unceremoniously stirred up right at the EEU summit. First, it is very possible that the premier is provoked to such aggravation by certain forces within Armenia, a kind of revanchist hawks, fearing whom he initiates such a theatre.
There is another possible reason - a serious drop in Pashinyan's rating, which he is trying to raise by staging such political "battles" at the highest level. And, as a rule, he does not look his best at them. Another interesting point is that Vladimir Putin, clearly unwilling to get involved in an empty debate provoked by Pashinyan, demonstrated a neutral position.
"Armenia, by staging such political shows, is of course deliberately dragging out the negotiation process, trying to win some kind of dividends for itself. For example, to bargain for autonomy for Armenians inside Azerbaijan, preferably under the control of international forces," believes the political analyst.
Yerevan, according to Ishmukhamedov, is doing this in order to indefinitely postpone the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh issue, turning the situation in its favour, and also because Pashinyan has no concrete plan for resolving the situation.
As Pashinyan himself was once again convinced at the last summit, the Kazakh political analyst stresses, he has already lost the support of Putin and Russia in general, which before the 44-day war was on Armenia's side.
"Meanwhile, such delaying of a peace settlement will lead to the next stage of military escalation, when such a path will simply be the only way out of the current situation. And Pashinyan's techniques in the form of outright attacks during the general session may lead to just such a turn of events. However, in this case, nothing good awaits Armenia, because we have seen the state and degree of combat efficiency of its Armed Forces in comparison with the army of Azerbaijan - they, to put it mildly, are not impressive," pointed out the political scientist.
And there is a situation, believes Ishmukhamedov, where Russia is beginning to maintain a neutral position in this conflict. Which, in principle, it should have been demonstrated as the main mediator between Baku and Yerevan for many years... The irony of fate, in his view, is that the clear support for Armenian interests back in the recent past, when the Karabakh conflict was an effective means of manipulation by Moscow, has led to this kind of scenario.
As the political analyst states, Pashinyan fails to acknowledge the fact that the Armenian Armed Forces, the very political status of Armenia, have changed since the war was lost.
"Armenia has no allies or military partners, but Pashinyan does not understand the changing situation and does not accept the new reality. The anecdotal evidence is that he imagines himself as a regional leader and Armenia as a regional hegemon. In contrast to Azerbaijan, which over the past 20 years has indeed become a regional power - with allies and partners", the expert argues.
Ishmukhamedov, like many, is much more impressed by President Aliyev's position, behaviour and sensitivity.
"Despite all the accusations made, he tried to be respectful and consistent in defending his interests, trying to consolidate his position as a representative of a country that wishes good, capable of a peaceful resolution of the conflict. His words were much more politically correct than Pashinyan's statements. There was a sense that the Armenian prime minister was at a standstill and did not know how to behave, how to answer questions, how to defend his position, whom to drag into his circle for diplomatic success in this discussion. He appears to be losing any political credibility," emphasises the Kazakhstani expert.
In turn, Russian political scientist Tatyana Poloskova, a doctor of political sciences, and state counsellor of the first class, draws attention to the fact that the meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan lasted only twenty minutes, nevertheless, Vladimir Putin saw in it "a prologue to the practical settlement of the situation in Karabakh". Moreover, according to the Russian president, there are no insurmountable obstacles between Yerevan and Baku, and the next meeting, at the level of deputy prime ministers, is scheduled for a week from now.
According to Poloskova, the results of the meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan, mediated by the Russian president, were not recorded on paper, but the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders recognised each other's territorial integrity. However, she said, the format of the dialogue itself "is beginning to take on a stagnant character, speaking the language of builders - a situation of negotiation delay".
"And so, despite everything, the Azerbaijani and Armenian deputy prime ministers are scheduled to meet in a week's time. But if there are only technical details left to discuss, all this can already be resolved at the bilateral level, without involving mediators. I think that Pashinyan is too involved in the negotiations, but against the background of the negotiation process - let us not forget - military provocations from the Armenian side continue. So personally I don't see any serious results, and this is certainly not the fault of the Azerbaijani side. Armenia must take steps towards the demarcation and delimitation of the borders after all.
As for the meeting of the leaders at the summit of the EAEU, with the participation of all leaders of the Economic Union, the Russian media describe what happened there as a squabble. But personally, I didn't notice it: Pashinyan tried to ask the same questions that he has been asking endlessly since the end of the 44-day war, knowing very well the answers. This time there was a game for the public: the leaders of states were present, and maybe one of them would intercede for the poor Pashinyan or bring dissonance into the dialogue. But this did not happen; moreover, the President of Kazakhstan, a graduate of the MGIMO, just like Ilham Aliyev, was openly laughing at what was shown on TV", the Russian political scientist noted.
According to her, Pashinyan asked absolutely ridiculous questions, appealing to such notions as "corridor", "yard", "path", which eventually provoked a reaction from Putin himself, who reminded the Armenian prime minister that these were purely technical issues.
"The Azerbaijani president probably recalled his youth, when he was a lecturer at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), and calmly and clearly explained to a not entirely intelligent student (there was no altercation there) that 'corridor' is an international term and there are no fundamental differences in the understanding," Poloskova stresses.
As for the Zangazur corridor, the expert believes that Pashinyan tried to arrange a small provocation here too, saying "Oh, it turns out that you agreed on something on Zangazur with Russia, and I knew nothing about it".
"But if Pashinyan doesn't know something about the main issue of relations with another country, let him ask his intelligence service questions. But this was not concealed", the political scientist is perplexed.
She is convinced that Azerbaijan had every right to initiate the Zangazur corridor, "and there are no misinterpretations.
"In general, I got the impression that Pashinyan is pretty fed up with the Russian leadership, this was quite obvious from Putin's reaction at the meeting. And the Armenian prime minister is now in a critical situation where his inaction has taken him to extremes: he will now return to Yerevan and he needs to do something further to promote a peace settlement and the signing of a peace treaty. What to do - he does not know. It is clear that in Armenia itself Pashinyan also has many revanchists ambushing him against any positive change. And if he wants to change something, he must somehow pass these ambushes carefully. But a head of state who for more than two years after the 44-day war says one thing in one country and another in another, is constantly confused, always promises something, but does not deliver, is frankly bewildering," emphasises the political scientist.
At the same time, Poloskova is sure that "the Azerbaijani side is absolutely right - there are no obstacles to the settlement".
"Only technical issues remain. Putin also directly expressed himself on this topic at the summit - he does not see any problems, and now let Pashinyan and Baku resolve these issues to the end. It is clear that the Armenian leadership is now concerned about maintaining its own authority, but the time has come to act rather than wiggle. But Pashinyan acts as he can - clumsily, unprofessionally. He has no diplomatic training, unlike the presidents of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. That's why it all looked so ridiculous - not only to Tokayev but to me too", sums up Poloskova.
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