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 Monday, September 27 2021 13:24
David Stepanyan

Artsakh catastrophe was prepared not only by external forces, but  also by internal ones

Artsakh catastrophe was prepared not only by external forces, but  also by internal ones

ArmInfo. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, former Foreign Minister of Artsakh Arman Melikyan, in an interview with ArmInfo, shares his vision of  the latest geopolitical trends in the South Caucasus. He also  analyzes the latest processes around Armenia in the light of the main  regional and extra-regional geopolitical players.

- Based on the current activity of the main geopolitical players in  the South Caucasus: Russia, Turkey and Iran, one gets the impression  of the impending change in the post-war status quo, formed as a  result of the 44-day war. Moreover, we are talking about changes on  the scale of the entire region, and not only in relations between  Armenia and Azerbaijan. A characteristic background of everything  that is happening is the lack of information from the Armenian  government about the ongoing and future processes. Please, share your  assessment of what is happening and, most importantly, the possible  prospects for current processes.

-The breakdown of the status quo established in 1994 in Artsakh  following the 44-day war and subsequent trilateral agreements should  be considered in the context of advancing the global process of  reformatting Eurasia. In this case, the overlapping of interests and  the resulting close interaction of a number of states in the region  and influential extra-regional forces led to disastrous consequences  for Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia. This catastrophe was  prepared not only by external forces, but also by internal ones - the  absolute helplessness, incapacity of the Armenian political  leadership and military command in organizing and conducting  hostilities indicates that the Armenian side lost long before the  start of hostilities at the end of September 2020. The reason for  this was the absolute lack of understanding of the essence and  direction of the current regional and global processes and, as a  consequence, the inability to identify and adequately assess the  risks they generate for the Armenian vital interests. Moreover, the  Armenian leadership ignored all warnings regarding the likelihood of  such risks and the necessity and possibilities of neutralizing them.   As for the motives and the imposition of efforts necessary for the  interaction of external forces, they have many levels. For  Azerbaijan, the war provided an opportunity to take control of about  10,000 square kilometers of territory previously controlled by the  authorities and the Artsakh Defense Army. For Turkey, the war opened  an era of a full-scale military presence on the territory of  Azerbaijan with the prospect of absorbing the latter through a  possible "Anschluss", which will mean a gradual transformation of the  South Caucasus into NATO territory, and at the same time a consistent  strengthening of Turkey's positions in the countries of post-Soviet  Central Asia. For Israel, the next stage of the operation to  neutralize hostile regimes has come - in this case, after the  "neutralization" of Iraq, Libya, Syria and the partial collapse of  the foundations of Egyptian statehood, it is the turn of the  elimination of the Iranian theocratic regime. I hasten to say that  this is a description of only part of the interests of some of the  participants involved and only a small part of the current process of  political reformatting of the continent.

- Are the Turkish intentions of Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan an  independent initiative or is it part of the implementation of Russian  communication initiatives from November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021?   And  what cost their implementation may have for Armenia?

- The Russian side has been openly conducting a constant dialogue  with Ankara for five years about the possibilities of normalizing  Armenian-Turkish relations and unblocking regional communications. Of  course, the most important precondition for moving in this direction  was the settlement of the Artsakh problem. At some point, some  Russian political and expert circles introduced the formula  "territories in exchange for a reduction in tension on the line of  contact ". Based on the foregoing, it can be argued that Russian  approaches to unblocking communications and linking the process to  the Artsakh problem were voiced long before Pashinyan came to power.   Nevertheless, Nikol Pashinyan will bear the responsibility for any  decisions made today by the Armenian leadership in the field of  Armenian-Turkish relations, the opening of communications or  corridors and for any of their consequences.

-Based on the statements made during the meetings of the Prime  Ministers of Armenia and Georgia and the Prime Minister of Georgia  with the President of Turkey, we have to state Georgia's interest in  the current processes with the participation of Armenia, Turkey, and,  not in last place, Azerbaijan. Can it be noted that this interest is  by no means limited to mediation?  What can Georgia get from the  unblocking of the region, which benefits mainly from the Armenian,  Turkish and Azerbaijani transit through its own territory?

-Possibly, Georgia proceeds from the fact that parallel to the  radical strengthening of the military-political positions of Turkey  in Azerbaijan, the role and influence of Russia in the South Caucasus  as a whole will decrease, and it would be good to take advantage of  this. And this can be used, for example, if Tbilisi can successfully  replace Moscow in the process of establishing a positive political  dialogue to begin with between the leaderships of Turkey and Armenia.   At the same time, it is important to note that influential  non-regional players - world centers of power - will be interested in  such a replacement.

-Do you consider it possible to harmonize and simultaneously  implement transport and communication projects "North-South" and  "East-West" - (Meghri corridor) or are they two fundamentally  contradictory geopolitical projects?

- I would not particularly focus on communications now - they can  only indicate certain contours of real or possible influence in  relation to any territory and at the same time not work in a free  mode. Only deciphering the real interests and intentions of the  initiators of the global reformatting and determining the appetites  of their "assistants" on the ground will make it possible to  distinguish false, deceitful actions from steps aimed at achieving  their true goals.

- It is already known that the main topic of the Sochi meeting  between Putin and Erdogan on September 29 will be Syria, in general,  and Idlib, in particular. Are Syria and Artsakh part of the same  chain in the Russian-Turkish contradictions, or are they  fundamentally different cases? And in this light, can we expect  changes in the settlement of the conflict over Artsakh if an  agreement is reached between Moscow and Ankara on the issue of  northern Syria?

-I am not inclined to directly link Syria and Artsakh in the context  of Russian-Turkish relations.  However, let's not forget that it was  after the crisis that erupted as a result of the destruction of a  Russian military aircraft by the Turks and the demonstrative murder  of a pilot that an unexpected honeymoon began in Russian-Turkish  relations. Apparently, it was this period at the same time that  created the basis for voicing Russian initiatives to normalize  Armenian-Turkish relations, and even in connection with the solution  of the Artsakh issue.   

-The last month has become a period, accompanied by mutual threats,  periodic verbal duels between various secondary representatives of  the authorities of Iran and Azerbaijan. All this is accompanied by  the accumulation of the Iranian military on the border with  Azerbaijan. What is wrong today in the relations between Baku and  Tehran, does Israel play a role in this, and what is Iran seeking  from Azerbaijan?   

- For Israel, the overthrow of the theocratic regime in Iran is an  existential issue.  In this light, the conduct of intelligence  activities directed against Iran from the territory of Azerbaijan has  been and will continue.  By the way, it is possible that, for a long  period of time, reconnaissance drones purchased by Azerbaijan, having  completed their tasks in the sky of Artsakh, then flew into the  airspace of Iran. It seems that Tehran understands the threat to  itself arising from Israel's actions and the risks arising from its  close military cooperation with Azerbaijan. In my opinion, Tehran  missed the time and opportunity to effectively counter the emerging  threat from the north. Most likely, the development of an unfavorable  situation around Iran should seriously concern China as well.  Apparently it will not take long to wait for the denouement.


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