Russian pundit: For Armenia, Karabakh is gone forever
    Caliber.Az conversation with Igor Korotchenko

    INTERVIEWS  15 December 2023 - 11:37

    Vadim Mansurov

    Caliber.Az had an interview with Igor Korotchenko, Director General of Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russian military expert.

    - What is your view on the Baku-Yerevan joint statement issued on December 7? Can we finally expect the signing of a peace treaty as soon as possible?

    - As a matter of fact, we can consider it as a breakthrough, because up to now all the negotiations have been conducted exclusively with the support of mediators and on foreign platforms. Here we have direct agreements and a clear success. These are the plus points. But one thing remains to be seen: will Armenia give up its basic principle, which it has tried to include in the agreement for years, namely to mention the Karabakh Armenians separately? Azerbaijan's response to this is a reasonable rejection of the suggestion that we should then also include in the text a clause on the 300,000 Azerbaijanis who were forcibly expelled from the territory of Armenia. And here we have a collision: Armenia will not agree to such a suggestion, and neither will Azerbaijan, because the position of official Baku is that all these people are citizens of the country and the issue itself is an internal Azerbaijani matter. There is therefore a risk of such a stalemate in the negotiations.

    I believe that a lot depends on Pashinyan's position, and if Yerevan, based on the obvious realpolitik, refuses this condition, the agreement may be signed. If we rely on optimistic forecasts that the signing may take place before the end of the year, then Aliyev and Pashinyan could be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And seriously, nothing, of course, prevents the signing of the agreement next year as well, the main thing is that this fact should be fulfilled.

    Again, I would like to note that the main stumbling block, in my opinion, is Yerevan's position. How far Pashinyan can take this step, based on the domestic situation and the balance within the ruling elites, weighing the risks and real threats of possible destabilisation, is an important question. Although, on the other hand, we can see that Pashinyan is very firmly in control of the mechanism of power, and the attempts of the opposition or any other forces to organise his violent removal have failed. Even when Karabakh came completely under the control of Azerbaijan.

    However, Pashinyan's statement that he is ready to hold early parliamentary elections if necessary most likely points to the following possible scenario: the prime minister will finally give up on the preconditions of the agreement and sign the deal, while at the same time announce the holding of snap elections - a referendum on confidence in the country's government. This will allow him to take the burden of responsibility off himself and shift the decision to the public. We shall see how the future situation develops. With Nikol Vovayevich's shrewdness and cunning, anything is possible.

    I believe that he still proceeds from the realities, as they say, of the situation "on the ground". No matter how much he is criticised in the country, he understands that further persistence in signing the agreement will not give him anything. Because Karabakh is gone for Armenia forever, Armenians no longer have any opportunities to speculate on this issue.

    - Did you notice that on the occasion of the joint statement Azerbaijan and Armenia were also congratulated by the countries, some of which had recently slowed down the negotiations?

    - I think this is a certain slyness of the USA, France, European Union. Baku's peace treaty with Yerevan deprives the West of any leverage over Azerbaijan. And I think that the West is very interested in not signing it, although it says otherwise in words. Recently, for example, it was decided to increase the contingent of the EU observation mission in Armenia - which should be interpreted as a hostile action against Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. Because the backbone of this mission is made up of cadre intelligence officers of European countries under diplomatic cover. First of all, it is French Foreign Intelligence DGSE, German Foreign Intelligence BND and other intelligence services. Naturally, all of them are not interested in stabilisation and peace in the South Caucasus.

    - And Russia?

    - Russia is a different story. Moscow is interested in the smooth functioning of transport corridors because it considers them an important element for the formation of peace in the South Caucasus. A transport corridor that will run through Azerbaijan and Iran will solve many important logistical problems.

    Russia is also determined to strengthen relations with Georgia because it is interested in establishing full-fledged peace in the region.

    - And what about the Zangezur corridor? Will it be possible to sell this route through Armenia?

    - The thing is that Armenia may turn out to be unnecessary, as Azerbaijan has already completed its part of the transit corridor through Iran. Because, with its characteristic tenacity and stubbornness, it presents its version of the "Crossroads of Peace", a global stalemate where nobody can use logistics or roads. This project has no prospects because the lack of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan prevents the restoration of relations between Armenia and Türkiye. All investors see and understand this. Therefore, if Pashinyan does not manage to use the opportunity he has been given, Armenia will find itself in a difficult situation. Pashinyan has driven himself into a dead end, and a peace treaty with Azerbaijan is the only way out of this economic and political dead end for him.

    - What will happen next to Armenian-Russian relations?

    - Relations between Armenia and Russia can now be qualified as "strained and cool". Pashinyan is turning towards the West, and arms purchases from NATO countries have begun. In all likelihood, this policy of Yerevan will continue.

    However, for now, Pashinyan will not make any sharp moves that could irritate Moscow, but he will distance himself from any political formats and meetings within the CIS and CSTO. I think Yerevan will put on pause everything except the economy.


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