Moscow Azerbaijan and Armenia are on the cusp of a historic event after the two countries declared their readiness to mutually recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each party, and to start discussing a peace agreement on the conflict in the region. Nagorny Karabakh.
The joint declaration, which came on the sidelines of the expanded summit of leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union, which was held on May 25 in the Russian capital, Moscow, indicates that the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries is almost inevitable, and may take place in the near future.
This came despite verbal skirmishes between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashanyan during the summit session over transport corridors.
During the session, Pashanyan expressed his dissatisfaction with the establishment of an Azerbaijani checkpoint in the Lachin corridor on the border with Armenia, and what he said was Baku’s plans to create a corridor linking Azerbaijan with the Nakhichevan enclave bordering Turkey and opening the way for trade with Europe, which Aliyev strongly denied.
In light of the heated discussion, Russian President Putin intervened and asked to discuss the outstanding issues in a tripartite meeting behind closed doors, which culminated in affirming the determination to mutual recognition and addressing the file of the corridors.
This would put an end to one of the most important and oldest hotbeds of tension in the former Soviet space, and in the “back garden of Russia”, which put its weight to be the “fire policeman” and the godfather of the historic agreement between the two Caucasian neighbors.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has long been seen as a sharp escalation of a “frozen” conflict over areas that are internationally recognized as Azerbaijani lands, but the majority of whose population is Armenian.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have disputed ownership of the region since February 1988, when the region declared its separation from the Republic of Azerbaijan (Soviet Socialist Republic), and in September 1991 the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh was declared (not recognized by any member state of the United Nations) as part of the Union Soviet Union, which marked the beginning of an armed confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
During the armed conflict in 1992-1994, Baku lost control over the region, in addition to 7 adjacent districts.
But Azerbaijan, at the height of the political crisis and demonstrations inside Armenia, launched a lightning war in the fall of 2020 and managed to control the region, after which the two countries signed a ceasefire agreement mediated by Russia, and yet the border areas between the two countries continued to witness frequent skirmishes.
balance of power
According to Andrei Zaitsev, an expert in the affairs of the South Caucasus, the results of the second Karabakh war showed that the Azerbaijani army is much stronger than its Armenian counterpart, and if the third Karabakh war breaks out, this will appear more clearly.
Zaitsev explained, in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, that the Sochi agreement on the Russian peacekeeping forces will expire within two and a half years, and if it is not extended, Azerbaijan “will thank the Russian peacekeeping forces,” which will in turn leave the region. After some short battles, the Azerbaijani army will enter these lands, expel the Armenian army and take control of it.
And he continues that this is the “basic scenario” that is on everyone’s mind and to which the fate of the entire region will end, stressing that under these circumstances the United States, the European Union and Russia will tell the Armenian side to accept the fait accompli, because no one will fight for Yerevan, and that it is necessary to recognize that Karabakh is Azerbaijani.
In turn, researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Olenchenko considers that Baku and Yerevan’s willingness to recognize each other’s borders is an important step in reducing tension between the two countries, but it does not necessarily mean an immediate end to the conflict.
Although he stresses that what happened is a victory for Moscow in terms of settling a strategic crisis in its geopolitical space, and as a demonstration of its ability to influence regional conditions, he calls for not exaggeration and remaining cautiously optimistic.
According to him, Moscow’s Western competitors will work to wrest the initiative from Russia, “mix” potential negotiating paths in the future according to the Western context, and return hotbeds of tension to Moscow’s “backyard”.
While Olenchenko asserts that the decision of the Armenian Prime Minister to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as land for Azerbaijan will not affect his position inside the country due to the large number of his supporters among the rural population of Armenia, he warns of resuming the conflict if he loses the upcoming elections, and the advent of new people to power may They decide to revise the agreement.
The Russian expert’s words are confirmed by the positions issued directly by the opposition poles in Armenia. Naira Karapetyan, a former deputy in the Armenian parliament and head of the Armenian Organization for European Integration, described Pashanyan’s decision as “a terrible confession that will not only close the region’s issue, but will not open it in the future.” , considering that “it will be impossible in the future to open the case at the diplomatic and international level.”
Olinchenko believes that the opposition will play the card of “surrendering” Nagorno-Karabakh, which could lead to widespread protests and confusion of political life in Armenia again.
But the writer on international affairs, Ilya Kusa, believes that what happened in reality will lead to a reduction of Russian influence in the South Caucasus as a whole, and may even eliminate it in the coming years.
According to Kusa, what happened may contribute to strengthening the position of the Armenian opposition if it manages to come to power, “then Moscow will lose control of Yerevan, and thus Armenia’s role in helping Russia, at a minimum, in circumventing economic sanctions, in retaliation for its role in the process of Normalization between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the expense of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh.