"The enclaves may become a pretext for Baku’s next attack" – Armenian political scientist

Nov 13 2023
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

Consequences of the termination of negotiations

“If the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks are frozen, i.e. the process stops on both Western and Russian platforms, Azerbaijan will have a window of new opportunities for a military attack on Armenia,” political analyst Beniamin Poghosyan believes.

He warns that the Azerbaijani side may launch military actions not only on the pretext of obtaining the so-called “Zangezur corridor”, i.e. a road uncontrolled by Armenia to connect with Nakhichevan, but also “enclaves”. In his opinion, this is a more realistic scenario of Baku’s actions, for which the Azerbaijani authorities are now preparing grounds.

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Given the weather conditions and the terrain, the political analyst suggests that military action is unlikely in winter. They could start in spring, and the reason for them could be, in Baku’s terminology, “Armenian-occupied villages or enclaves”.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly publicly stated that Armenia recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity of 86,600 square kilometers. But he has not received reciprocal recognition by Azerbaijan of Armenia’s territorial integrity. At a press conference organized in late May, Pashinyan also stated that Armenia’s 29,800 square kilometers of territorial integrity does not include the village of Tigranashen in Ararat province and six villages in Tavush province.

And now, according to the political analyst, it is important to understand whether the enclaves fall within the framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, which the Armenian prime minister has recognized:

“If Armenia recognizes that there is a territory under its control that it considers part of Azerbaijan, I am afraid that we may have the same situation here as on September 19, 2023 [referring to the military actions of the Azerbaijani army on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, after which the entire Armenian population moved to Armenia].”

Poghosyan explains that Azerbaijan could resort to military action and present it as “liberating its territories, exercising the right to self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.”

“I don’t rule out that we will have a situation where the Russian president will say, ‘What should I do?’ Armenia has said that these enclaves are Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan is returning its territories. And there will be no special reaction from the West,” he said.

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Poghosyan emphasizes that Baku has already received the maximum from its Western partners, “namely, it conducted ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh with zero reaction to it from the West”. In addition, within the framework of the Western negotiating platform, the Azerbaijani side achieved

  • “an agreement to recognize territorial integrity within the Soviet administrative boundaries,
  • Armenia’s recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, as well as the rejection of the demand for autonomy”

He recalls that Armenia made concessions and “lowered the bar on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh”, expecting to receive guarantees of rights and security of Armenians of the unrecognized republic, but received nothing. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan used the concessions of the Armenian side as a “legitimate basis for attacking Artsakh”.

According to the analyst, Baku has nothing more to gain from the Western platform, so it is “saying goodbye to it and trying to return to the Russian negotiating platform”.

Military expert Leonid Nersisyan believes that “Baku will not occupy, for example, the southern region of Armenia, Syunik, but will resort to a new escalation”

The analyst says that Armenia is disappointed with the Western platform, as it did not get anything there, but also does not want to return to the Russian platform. He notes that given strained Armenian-Russian relations, Azerbaijan has “started flirting” with Russia and Iran:

“Azerbaijan is trying to make Armenia look like a state that is constantly trying to ensure the presence of ‘enemy forces’ here for Russia and Iran — the EU and the US.”

In addition, Baku supports the Russian and Iranian position that regional problems should be solved by regional countries and the presence of extra-regional powers only harms the process of normalization of relations.

“If we continue to avoid the Russian platform, Azerbaijan will further toughen this rhetoric of its, saying to Russia and Iran: look, Armenia wants to bring your enemies to the South Caucasus,” he said.

In this case, according to the political analyst, there will be “additional problems not only in Armenian-Russian, but also in Armenian-Iranian relations, which is not in Armenia’s interests.”