Washington's hasty steps
    Yerevan is in turmoil, Baku is in no rush

    ANALYTICS  18 June 2024 - 10:45

    Murad Abiyev
    Caliber.Az

    For several days now, intermittent shelling of Azerbaijani positions by the Armenian Armed Forces has continued in the direction of Nakhchivan. We have repeatedly said that these provocations are most likely directed against Pashinyan himself. By undermining the peace process, they cast doubt on the prime minister's policy of normalization with Azerbaijan, particularly regarding border delimitation and demarcation.

    However, another version can be considered — that Pashinyan himself is initiating the escalation. This is possible only if he is absolutely confident that the opposition has completely missed its chance to overthrow the government. Let's imagine that, with some nuances, this is exactly the case. Then the choice of location - not the eastern border with mainland Azerbaijan, but the western border with Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic - indirectly speaks in favor of the version that the shelling was initiated by official Yerevan. That is, the delimitation process, which has begun on the northern section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, is not being sacrificed.

    So, what benefit does Yerevan gain from this escalation? Is it possible that they are provoking Baku into retaliating against Armenia? Possibly. In that case, peace would be as distant as the moon again, and it is not unlikely that Armenia's patrons would attempt to revive the myth of "ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Karabakh" and their "forced expulsion."

    By the way, the fact that this discourse has not completely gone off the agenda is evidenced by the recent interview of US Assistant Secretary of State James O'Brien to Armenian Radio Liberty, in which he stated the following: "What we indicated is that we would conduct and maintain independent review of what happened in September [2023] (counter-terrorism measures and voluntary resettlement of Armenians from Karabakh to Armenia - Ed.) but also ongoing relationships and that we are doing. The international organizations responsible have access to the sites and they are able provide us with the information that is needed".

    Apparently, the United States wants to create an opportunity to pressure Baku on the hypothetical revival of the issue of Karabakh Armenians. But for what purpose? Obviously, to convince Baku of the necessity of quickly signing a peace treaty with Armenia, without regard to the provisions of the Armenian constitution, which contain territorial claims against Azerbaijan. After all, Yerevan, through the words of Foreign Minister Mirzoyan and then Prime Minister Pashinyan, rejected the possibility of amending the constitution in connection with Azerbaijan's demands.

    The Americans are very eager to involve Armenia in regional projects (which was also clearly stated by O'Brien), which is not possible as long as all issues with Azerbaijan are unresolved. Understanding that the constitutional amendment might take a long time, but that integrating Armenia needs to happen now, the US is trying to pressure Baku.

    In these circumstances, Baku continues to insist on the need for a cleanup of Armenian legislation. As an obvious interim solution, the expert community is actively discussing the option of signing a framework peace agreement that would acknowledge the problem in the Armenian Constitution with Yerevan's commitment to amend the basic law subsequently.

    A historical precedent is often cited — the Belfast Agreement of April 10, 1998, between the United Kingdom and Ireland, in which Ireland committed to removing territorial claims on Northern Ireland from its constitution, which it then did. It should be noted that this option was presented for discussion by the former British ambassador to Azerbaijan, James Sharp. It is possible that this scenario is currently being discussed by the Armenian side as well.

    If this scenario materializes (the promise to amend the constitution in an interim agreement), the discourse on the need to change the paradigm of Armenia's worldview and its place in the world will officially enter the public sphere in Armenia. This, in turn, could trigger a new wave of protests, which, we do not rule out, might force Pashinyan to shrug his shoulders, say, "I did everything I could," and step away from the obligation to initiate constitutional changes. If this happens, there can be no talk of Armenia's integration into regional projects. However, even this would serve as a good test to determine whether Armenia is ready to sign the main peace treaty or not.

    Such a scenario would keep Armenia as a constant source of tension in the South Caucasus (it is no coincidence that the Armenian Defence Minister was on a working visit to Paris on June 17). In these conditions, Azerbaijan can only continue to strengthen its international authority and the power of its armed forces.

    Caliber.Az

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