"Before going West, Armenia should agree with Azerbaijan"
    Stanislav Tarasov for Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  09 September 2023 - 12:30

    Matanat Nasibova

    Caliber.Az presents its interview with a Russian political scientist and expert on Middle East and Caucasus issues Stanislav Tarasov.

    - Stanislav Nikolayevich, in your opinion, to what extent does Yerevan's intention to take part in joint military drills with the US on the territory of Armenia fit into the allied logic?

    - The answer to this question is as follows: One should learn from those who know how to fight and win the fight, i.e. from Türkiye or Azerbaijan. And what can Armenia learn from NATO and the United States? Nothing. Let the Americans tell us what war they have won in the last decades. None. So the answer lies on the surface.

    - It is unlikely that Armenians will be able to fight like Türkiye or Azerbaijan. But that is not the point, now I would like to know whether Moscow will take any real action against its outpost, apart from tough statements from the Kremlin.

    - Moscow will do nothing. Armenia is unambiguously acting on the principle of multi-vectorism. Only when Erdogan, being a great master of world politics, uses this formula or Ilham Aliyev, a grandmaster in international diplomacy, it is understandable, but certainly not in the case of Nikol Pashinyan. Such a formula does not work in his case.

    - Nevertheless, you must agree that Moscow is far from indifferent to the current situation, otherwise, it would not have reacted so keenly, much less hinted at the safety of Russian Armenians...

    - Of course, this is unpleasant for Moscow. What is there to say and to be sly... But there are three million Armenians living in Russia, most of whom have Russian citizenship, and they are forced to react to the situation in Armenia. But if Armenia has decided to drift to the West, then for God's sake, let it go there. But first, let it come to an agreement with Baku, and then we can wish it good luck.

    Now there is a situation where Armenia has retreated from the November 2020 agreements, and the danger is that the sides have started to balance on the verge of an armed conflict. And this cannot be allowed.

    - For all Moscow's indifference to Armenia's aspirations to the West, as you said, the Kremlin insists on the deployment of a CSTO mission on the conditional Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Is this another opportunity for Russia to strengthen its presence in the region?

    - Azerbaijan and Armenia have still not demarcated and delimited their borders, and this disputed issue remains open. But commissions should work in this situation and the powers of Russian peacekeepers should be expanded. Armenians believe that they are Russia's only outpost in the Caucasus, but this is far from true. We do not exclude Azerbaijan as one of Russia's important allies.

    - I disagree with you here, as ally and outpost are not equivalent positions. The role of an outpost is suitable for Armenia and unacceptable for Azerbaijan.

    - Russia does have special relations with Azerbaijan, it is our important ally in the Caucasus.

    - Do you think Russia will stay in the Caucasus for a long time?

    - For eternity, despite Armenia’s dreams.

    - And still, will the CSTO mission appear on the conditional Armenian-Azerbaijani border or not?

    - Armenia is against it, so, as they say, you can't make nice by force. They don't want it, so be it... For our part we have made such a political gesture, that we are ready to call observers there, to work in parallel with the Azerbaijani side. You see, now Moscow is most interested in what is happening in Khankendi. And if Azerbaijan behaves competently in the current situation, i.e. does not put pressure on the Armenians of Khankendi, it can change the situation in Yerevan itself.

    - How so?

    - Araik Harutyunyan was Pashinyan's protégé, but he was removed and some new people were brought in, whose aims are not yet clear. But it is clear that Pashinyan's position in Khankendi, in Garabagh, or in the Armenian enclave - call it what you will - has been severely undermined. The Armenians of Garabagh and the Armenians of Yerevan are linked, even if there are problems between them.

    So when there is an element in one part of the Armenian world that is in opposition to the centre, it is fraught with certain upheavals within Armenia. So Pashinyan's situation is extremely complicated.

    - And who removed Araik Harutyunyan?

    - I think it was some kind of backstage game. If we speculate about what happened, a lot of conspiracy versions appear. One thing is clear - Araik left for serious reasons and in consultation with Yerevan. I believe that the situation in Garabagh was so dangerous that Harutyunyan could have been overthrown.

    And most likely, Pashinyan and Harutyunyan decided to play this game peacefully. Although I assume that Pashinyan is irritated by this fact, because he is losing control. And here the question arises for him - how will Azerbaijan behave? If Baku bypasses Yerevan and makes contact with Khankendi, it will be a great move.

    - Do you mean contact with Harutyunyan's successors?

    Yes. And it will be another grandmaster game of Baku.

    - Azerbaijan in any case offers dialogue to the Armenians of Garabagh, up to and including the provision of food cargo. But, as you can see, the result is zero.

    - I think it makes sense for the sides to meet - anywhere, on any territory. If you want Garabagh Armenians to become citizens of Azerbaijan, you should not see them in the image of an enemy. The problem of security in Garabagh is very acute. We need to remove this syndrome.

    - You still have a preconceived notion. Baku offers Garabagh Armenians reintegration, which implies equal rights with Azerbaijanis.

    - Garabagh Armenians are wary, and so far it is crude diplomacy. Statements from a position of strength only toughen the situation. But I do not rule out that there are third forces that are stirring up the situation there. And it is not Russia: we are interested in preserving stability. The West, France and the United States are fuelling the situation.

    - Why do you think Armenia is arming itself in such a hurry?

    - Armenians lost the war, and the Azerbaijani army turned out to be strong and prepared, so somehow they had to demonstrate the factor of statehood. Well, what did they buy there - one tank and ten automatic rifles? Since Pashinyan came to power Armenia has been in permanent crisis, and in order to arm the army it is necessary to have free resources.

    Azerbaijan has them. Your country is in a completely different economic plane - Azerbaijan's statehood has taken place, and Armenians have a problem. They need to create a new economic model, not shoot. They need to develop a brainstorming session to get out of the abyss the country, led by Pashinyan, has found itself in.

    - What is your forecast for the immediate situation?

    - It is difficult to say because it is not known how the situation in Armenia will develop, taking into account the changes in Khankendi and Garabagh as a whole, how the dialogue between Khankendi and Yerevan will proceed, and how Baku will behave in this situation. However, I believe that these two Caucasian peoples need to be reconciled.

    We, Russians, have not succeeded so far. But we do not believe that there are fans of Armenians or Azerbaijanis in the United States and the West, there are only those who want to use these two peoples in their own interests.


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