"Russians ‘saved’ Artsakh, now they want to pass to Armenia". Opinion from Yerevan

Jan 19 2024
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

On severing ties with Russia

“Russia wants to project in Syunik [Armenia’s southern region bordering Azerbaijan] the logic of a corridor. They say if you don’t want to be taken away by force [the road meant to connect Azerbaijan with its exclave of Nakhichevan], give it away voluntarily,” Armenian political scientist Gurgen Simonyan said, commenting on the Russian Foreign Minister’s statements.

Although Sergey Lavrov said yesterday that there is no clause about the so-called “Zangezur corridor” in the November 9 trilateral statement, Simonyan claims that Moscow is determined to take possession of this road. What the Russian side calls control of the road, in his opinion, is actually a demand for an extraterritorial corridor. At the same time, the analyst emphasizes that there cannot be any “X-space where the laws of the country do not apply” on Armenia’s sovereign territory.

The political analyst commented both on Lavrov’s recent statements concerning Armenia and expressed his opinion on Armenian-Russian relations and cooperation with the West.

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Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s activities in 2023 that the “Zangezur corridor” was never discussed within the framework of the agreements reached on November 9, 2020.

According to him, all economic and transportation ties will be unblocked according to this document, which ended the 2020 Karabakh war. Armenia will guarantee the security of transport in both directions between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, and the border service of the Federal Security Service of Russia will exercise control on that road. He emphasized that Armenia’s sovereignty and jurisdiction on these routes will be fully preserved.

Lavrov also said that the West does not want to allow the implementation of the agreements reached between Yerevan and Baku through Moscow’s mediation. According to him, the lack of progress in the conclusion of the peace treaty is due to the position of Yerevan, while Baku is ready to sign the agreement on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The analyst argues that only Armenia has “naively and shortsightedly” fulfilled all points of the obligations stipulated under the November 2020 trilateral statement, while Moscow and Baku have not fulfilled a single one:

“If they raise the issue of unblocking the roads in Syunik, then let them ensure the security of the Lachin corridor [was stipulated under the trilateral statement], provide an appropriate atmosphere and conditions for the return of Artsakh Armenians to the homeland of their ancestors.”

The political analyst regards any demands from the Russian side, which has not fulfilled its obligations, as “rhetoric with hostile overtones”. He believes that Armenia should take Russia’s statements as a threat and pursue a policy of reducing the risks arising from them.

In the political analyst’s opinion, Yerevan should be very clear about the situation on the ground.

“It should be said that it was you who annulled the November 9 document, no process envisaged under it has been implemented in the region. And there are no Armenians left in Nagorno Karabakh. But the situation is changed not by statements, but by appropriate policy”.

He also suggested what motives Russia has to control the road connecting Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan through the territory of Armenia. He recalled that Russian peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh demanded large sums from local residents for transportation of goods and people through the Lachin corridor:

“If they control this section of the road, the money that was supposed to go to the Armenian budget will flow into their pockets.”

Political scientist Richard Kirakosian – on Armenian-Russian relations, Armenia-EU cooperation

“If some force threatens your existence, there is a way to confront it, regardless of its scale. Obviously we cannot confront this powerful country with brute military force. So we have to look for allies,” the political scientist believes.

At the same time, Simonyan says that Armenia can only expect new allies to provide it with the latest technologies, economic and military training, but it should fight on its own.

According to him, the West has failed to prevent the Russians from “saving Artsakh”, but so far it has managed to oppose Russia’s plan to “save” Armenia. If suddenly Russia succeeds, then after such “rescue” the Republic of Armenia will cease to exist and there will be no Armenians left in it, just as there were no Armenians left in Karabakh.

The political scientist made such an appeal to the Armenian authorities. He believes that if Yerevan is able to harmonize its interests with those of friendly countries, it will find allies in their face. However, for that it is necessary to pursue an active policy.

Meanwhile the current government, in his opinion, pursues an “unprincipled and short-sighted” policy, regularly “heading North,” to Russia.

“In addition, Armenia continues to be part of military-political and economic integration projects (the CSTO military bloc and the Eurasian Economic Union), which obviously pursue a hostile policy towards it. The authorities go to the EAEU event and play up the chairmanship of this organization [the Prime Minister recently accepted Armenia’s chairmanship of the EAEU], but do not participate in the economic forum in Davos, where the future of the world is being discussed. These people do not react to the realities facing Armenia due to external and internal challenges, they are in some illusory world.’

The political analyst believes that Yerevan should start strategic relations with the European Union, as well as with the North Atlantic security system, as Armenia’s ally in the region is the West. And Russia, according to him, has staked on the Turkic world.

He does not rule out that in the near future Azerbaijan will join the structures operating under the aegis of Russia, e.g. EAEU and CSTO. He says it is still unclear what Baku will get in return for this integration.

“If this scenario is played out, we must fight and defend our territories [in Syunik] so as not to lose our strategic importance, our connection with Iran. If we lose our territory but keep our independence, we will lose our independence after some time because we will not be interesting to the world.”