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The Institute for Strategic Analysis

Rejecting Predecessors' Karabakh Policies, Armenian Premier Pushes Azerbaijan Into A Military Solution

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 19 May 2020
Rejecting Predecessors' Karabakh Policies, Armenian Premier Pushes Azerbaijan Into A Military Solution

In 2018, Armenia’s opposition politician MP Nikol Pashinyan in public protests ousted the then short-lived premier Serzh Sargsyan and soon replaced him.

Hopes were high at the outset that the new face of the Armenian politics would renounce his predecessors’ aggressive and occupying policies and undertake energetic and sensible steps to have the long-drawn-out Karabakh conflict resolved through paving the way for his reforms agenda to take roots in peace and stability with neighbors.

Alas, Pashinyan with his incoherent Karabakh policies has reached an impasse and is now calling for new endeavors without realizing that Azerbaijan has no time to wait for another 30 years.

Official Baku has blamed Nikol Pashinyan for torpedoing the Karabakh talks to win time. The accusation came soon after Nikol Pashinyan’s online news conference, who said since the velvet revolution, no new document had been submitted to resolve the conflict and the old proposal was no longer acceptable.

After Armenia’s "velvet revolution", no new document was proposed to resolve the Karabakh conflict, Nikol Pashinyan claimed. The Armenian prime minister was asked to comment on the recent statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that a document prescribing a phased settlement was on the negotiating table.

Armenia has fixed its position and principles in the discussions, he said without naming a name. Initially, when we came to power, the question was raised whether Yerevan would continue negotiations from the point where Serzh Sargsyan left them, Pashinyan elaborated.

“We said no, and that the legacy left by Sargsyan is unacceptable to us. You know, do not try to rivet us with something. There are different points of view regarding the forms, packages or stages of settlement. But you need to understand what a package settlement is, and what a phased settlement is. All these issues need to be carefully clarified,” he added.

However, the public cannot be misled by the Armenian prime minister’s baseless statements designed only for domestic consumption. As part of the negotiations on the Karabakh conflict, a draft settlement based on a phased approach, proposed on April 15, 2019 in Moscow, is actively discussed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“There are Madrid principles, there are documents that Russia prepared in 2010-2011, the so-called Kazan document, and there are projects that were circulated a year ago, in April last year, in Moscow, at a meeting of the Russian and Armenian foreign ministers and Azerbaijan with the participation of the co-chairs, and they are now being actively discussed. These documents suggest progress towards a settlement on the basis of a phased approach," he elaborated.

The documents envisage a solution to the most pressing problems at the first stage, the liberation of a number of areas around Nagorno-Karabakh and the unblocking of transport, economic and other communication.

“I am convinced that when we come to the decision to sign these documents, this will be the most important step towards the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions that demanded an end to the war and begin to come to an agreement. We have stopped the war, now we need to agree on what we are achieving as co-chairmen of the Minsk Group OSCE," he said.

Lavrov emphasized that UN Security Council resolutions on the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh were adopted at the height of hostilities, and they presupposed, first of all, a complete stop of hostilities and a transition to a settlement.

“They, yes, confirmed the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, but they also demanded a halt to the war and proceed to negotiations. Since then, negotiations have been started, more than once, there were agreements in Key West in 2001, subsequent agreements in different formats both with and without Karabakh’s participation. Now the format of the Baku-Yerevan negotiations has taken place with co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group and the representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office,” he added.

Pundits in Azerbaijan, whose territories have been under occupation, believe Armenia is dictating own conditions without shaming for occupation of a neighboring nation.

“The task of Armenia and other participants is to search and find mechanisms for settlement. The contacts of the parties to the conflict are aimed at this,” the Armenian premier said.

Either his statements on the negotiating process over the Karabakh conflict show that he failed to study this process over the past two years or his statements are aimed at creating obstacles to the negotiating process, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva said in a comment.

"It is true that there is no new document in the negotiating process, because there is no need for a new document and proposal. As stated in the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group on 9 March 2019, negotiations are underway on a document that already exists at the negotiating table," Abdullayeva added

"Has Pashinyan ever taken an interest in what the Armenian foreign minister has been doing during the negotiations over the past two years? It is possible that the Armenian foreign minister did not report to the prime minister on the documents submitted by the co-chairs to the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, including intensive negotiations in Geneva in January 2020.

If the goal of the current leadership of Armenia is to prolong the process of resolving the conflict under the guise of 'negotiations, this approach is strongly rejected by both Azerbaijan and the international community," she added.

With such statements, the Armenian leadership clearly shows which country stands for peace and which stands for increased tension in the region, the spokeswoman said, putting responsibility for the aggravation of the situation in the region on Armenia.

Official Yerevan is doing its best to undermine the Karabakh talks. The official information of the recent days clearly shows that the occupying country has not given up provocations. Moreover, the enemy continues its aggression along the borders of the two countries, pundits believe.

On May 13, Armenia shelled Abbasbayli village of Qazax District, border checkpoints near the village, military and civilian vehicles moving in the same direction from Berkaberd village of Ijevan region of Armenia, damaging roofs of several houses, the Azerbaijani State Border Service said.

Interestingly, Armenia made futile attempts to blame Azerbaijan for what happened. It is claimed that as a result of the Azerbaijani fire, the settlements of Tavush region were damaged. The enemy, who broke the windows of several houses and made a noise, did not realize that if you "sit in a glass house", you should not stone others’ house since you will be stoned back.

Apparently, the enemy is persistently trying to transfer tensions from the Karabakh region to the border between the two countries, to involve the “Russian NATO" in the process, to get support from Russia.

Official Baku warned the occupier against crossing the "red line" and playing a dangerous game. Armenia's policy is to maintain the status quo based on occupation in every possible way, not to allow the negotiation process to move forward under various pretexts, Azerbaijani presidential aide and head of the Foreign Policy Department under the Presidential Administration Hikmat Haciyev said.

Haciyev added that Armenia's recent policy of turning the issue of a new type of coronavirus into a topic of political speculation, pursuing a policy of hiding behind this issue and preventing the settlement of the conflict, destructive and contradictory statements undermining the negotiations process are disrespectful for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and should be evaluated as such.

Hikmat Haciyev noted that Azerbaijan continues to participate constructively in the negotiation process.

“But it should be underscored that as the UN Charter Article 51 envisages, Azerbaijan reserves the right to restore its internationally recognized territories and sovereignty,” he added. 

Haciyev also said that Armenia, with its aggressive rhetoric, is attacking the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In fact, the above statements indicate very serious issues. The presidential aide openly warned the occupying country about the principled position of official Baku, and at the same time, informed the international community about the destructive position of Yerevan. The statement that Armenia will be held responsible for the events that will take place openly can be considered as an announcement of some drastic steps.

It is important to draw attention to the large-scale operational and tactical exercises of the Azerbaijani Army from 18 to 22 May and this shows official Baku's seriousness about regaining Karabakh militarily.

As many as 10,000 personnel, about 120 tanks and other armored vehicles, about 200 different caliber missiles and artillery pieces, rocket launchers and mortars, about 30 army and frontline aircraft and various unmanned aerial vehicles will be involved in the exercises as the Defense Ministry said.

The military exercises are to examine combat readiness, operational planning and comprehensive support, the interaction of the governing bodies of different types and units of troops, as well as the firing and maneuverability of strike groups created in accordance with the terms of the exercises.