Six reasons why the outcome of the Armenian elections will not lead to a peace treaty – OpEd – Eurasia Review


If you listened to the speeches of the myriad political forces competing in the Armenian elections which have just ended, you would be forgiven for thinking that Armenia was not defeated by Azerbaijan in the Second Karabakh War! ‘last year. Armenians continue to live in ‘parallel world, imagined “which is” far from reality, a dream world “.

Deep-rooted myths and arrogance towards its Turkish neighbors prevent understanding of the causes of Armenia’s military defeat by blaming Turkish aid to Azerbaijan. A reluctance to accept post-war reality is also fueling the Armenian espionage conspiracy and mania directed against the UK, with UNICEF and the Halo Trust demining investigated for “espionage.” “. Richard giragosian, director of the Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center, described the espionage mania as symptomatic of “a state of post-war denial”. As today, the Armenian myth of his “invincibility” after his victory in the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s ignores that it was a product of the civil war in Azerbaijan and military assistance. Soviet and Russian. In the 2020 war, Russia did not intervene alongside Armenia.

The June elections, which took place after an attempted military coup in February, failed to end the illusory world of Armenian politics. Armenian society is heavily polarized by an election that featured “confrontational and hostile post-war rhetoric” with accusations against Nikol Pashinian, who signed the November 2020 ceasefire agreement, described as “a traitor. “And” capitulant “.

The Armenian National Congress Party led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, the only well-known political force that campaigned to normalize relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, received only 1.54% and n failed to enter parliament. The new Armenian parliament is dominated by the Pashinian Civil Contract Party which received 54% and two openly revengeful political forces, “Armenia” led by former President Robert Kocharian and “I have the honor” led by Arthur Vanetsian who together received 26%. Although it was certified as free and fair by the OSCE, Kocharian challenged the election results in the Constitutional Court.

Kocharian supports the reconstruction of the Armenian army, the strengthening of ties with Russia and the accession of Armenia to the Russian-Belarusian Union, and the recapture of the territories lost in last year’s war. Closer integration with Russia is based on the hope that this would encourage Russia to intervene alongside Armenia in future hostilities – as it did in the early 1990s. Kocharian “Still refuses to peacefully resolve Armenia’s national security problem with the Azerbaijani side” trying to encourage Russia to support it. This militarist rhetoric is “based on fantastic calculations, pseudo-strategies and on willful ignorance of the facts”, Armenian intellectual Jirair Libaridian thinks.

Pashinian has similar policies of closer integration with Russia like those proposed by its vengeful opponents in parliament. Under his surveillance, the border posts in southern Armenia were controlled by the FSB, Russia’s internal intelligence service which also operates throughout the Eurasian space. Pashinian has opened negotiations to expand Russian military bases in Armenia with a new base in Gegharkunik on the border of Azerbaijani province of Kelbajar. Russian soft power is increasing its influence in Armenia, Russian television having access to Armenian airwaves and the Russian language has become an official language in Armenia and in the Armenian enclave of Karabakh.

All Armenian political forces support Russia’s position on Crimea at the UN and other international organizations. Armenian officials in foreign affairs, defense and national security openly support Russia in Crimea. The Kocharian and Vanetsian revenge are even more vehement and less diplomatic in their support for Russia in Crimea. Ignoring international sanctions preventing economic and transport ties with Crimea, Armenia launched last month direct flights to the occupied peninsula.

A reluctance to live in the real world, accentuated by electoral polarization, will make the signing of a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan unlikely. President Ilham Aliev said ‘If there is no peace treaty, it means there is no peace.’ Low-intensity conflict is more likely to persist. A peace treaty will be impossible when the Armenians accept six realities arising from last year’s defeat.

The first reality is that Armenia was defeated militarily in just 44 days compared to a long seven year war from 1988 to 1994 which saw the defeat of Azerbaijan. Armenia lost much of its military equipment in last year’s war and if it had not agreed to a ceasefire it would have very little of its armed forces left.

Armenia’s twentieth-century Soviet military equipment was not up to the standards of the twenty-first-century Azerbaijani army. Iskander, the most sophisticated Russian missile, proved ineffective and was shot down by an Israeli Barak air defense system in the Azerbaijani armed forces. Pashinyan’s admission of their ineffectiveness nearly resulted in the February military coup and arguably made it even more hated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The second reality is that Armenia must accept that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. This reality has penetrated nowhere in Armenia. The Armenian leadership continues to act, diplomatically and militarily, as if nothing had changed last year. Armenian diplomats call for continued lobbying efforts to encourage countries to recognize “Artsakh independence” (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh). Former Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyam declared that “the realization of the rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to sovereignty over their lands remains the main task of the foreign policy of Armenia”.

The revengeful rhetoric in favor of reclaiming lost territories is not just an electoral and political issue. Since the November 2020 ceasefire, the Armenian army has continued to send sabotage units to Azerbaijan which are transported and operate without interference from Russian “peacekeepers”. The Armenian security forces continue to provide their proxies in Karabakh. Russian “peacekeeping” forces turn a blind eye to their transport in “construction” trucks.

Armenian soldiers were captured by Azerbaijan which is bring them to justice as “terrorists”. In Baku’s eyes, they are not classified as prisoners of war under the ceasefire agreement. Two groups of “terrorists” captured since the ceasefire were freed in mine card exchange which Armenia has always claimed never to have existed. Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding seven provinces occupied by Armenia from 1994 to 2020 is the most mined region in the world. 15 Armenian “terrorists” were exchanged for cards of 97,000 mines in Agdam and 15 others for cards of 92,000 mines in the provinces of Fizuli and Zangilan.

The third reality follows from the second; namely, Armenia should take a more serious and professional approach to the negotiations on the demarcation and delimitation of its border with Azerbaijan. The border should be based on the inter-republican “borders” that existed in the USSR.

Obviously, Armenia will not approach the demarcation and delimitation of borders in a serious and professional manner until Yerevan recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. The two problems are obviously linked.

The fourth reality is that the Russian “peacekeepers” in Karabakh have a five-year mandate which demands that Armenia and Azerbaijan both agree to renew it. Armenia would like “Russian peacekeepers to stay indefinitely to push back acceptance of the reality of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is unlikely to support Russian “peacekeepers” beyond the five-year term for two reasons. The first is that the presence of Russian “blue helmets” facilitates the military supply of Armenian proxies in northern Karabakh. The second is that the presence of Russian “blue helmets” prevents Yerevan from negotiating in a serious and professional manner on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan.

The fifth reality is that Russia now has competition in the South Caucasus where Turkey is engaged for the long haul. This was clearly seen in June “Declaration of Choucha” signed by Turkey and Azerbaijan. It is unclear why this should cause distress in Yerevan as Turkey’s entry creates what former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski called “geopolitical pluralism” in Eurasia.

Armenia, by denying Turkey the right to be present in the South Caucasus, agrees with the Kremlin which has always asserted that Eurasia is Russia’s exclusive sphere of influence. After Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, President Dmitry Medvedev described Eurasia as a region where Russia would have “Privileged interests”.

Armenia is alarmed by the prospect of Turkey possibly opening a military base in Azerbaijan. Yet Azerbaijan has not protested against Armenia which has hosted two Russian military bases for the past three decades with plans to expand them. Is Yerevan’s position that only Russia can have military bases in Eurasia?

The sixth is that if these realities are not accepted, Armenia will face a very bleak future without the normalization of relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. If their borders remain closed, the Armenian economy will continue to stagnate and more and more people will migrate, especially young people. The 2010 Russian census recorded 1.2 million Armenians living in Russia, equivalent to 40% of Armenia’s population. An economically stagnant Armenia will become even more dependent on Russia, and its independence will gradually erode into that of Belarusian-style domination where local rulers only control internal affairs on behalf of the Kremlin.

The war lasted only 44 days. If Armenians continue to live in an illusory world, negotiating a peace treaty will take much longer with the threat of a resumption of future hostilities.

* Taras Kuzio is professor of political science at the Mohyla Academy of Kyiv National University and author of Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War which will be published by Routledge.


About Norma Wade

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