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 Monday, September 19 2022 19:44
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Analyst on reasons for Azerbaijan`s adventure in Armenia and  expectations from Pelosi`s visit

Analyst on reasons for Azerbaijan`s adventure in Armenia and  expectations from Pelosi`s visit

ArmInfo. For one, Azerbaijan senses a window of opportunity rooted in the perception  and reality of Russian weakness.  Distracted and now overwhelmed by  military setbacks in the Ukrainian theatre, the South Caucasus and  Armenian-Azerbaijan tension in particular have become more marginal  policy concerns for Russia.  Founding Director of the Regional  Studies Center, analyst Giragosian shares a similar opinion.   According to him, this is one of the three key factors that  Azerbaijan counted on when undertaking another adventure.

"Against that backdrop, there is an obvious question of the timing of  the attack.  Assessing the broader context, there are three primary  drivers behind Azerbaijan's calculation." " A second factor was the  recent conclusion of a key agreement with the EU whereby Azerbaijan  contracted to supply natural gas to Europe as a strategic alternative  to Russian energy imports.  In fact, this agreement only encouraged  Azerbaijan as it was seen as a novel way to garner leverage over the  Europeans while further strengthening Baku's stature in Russian  eyes," the analyst is convinced.

Giragosian stated, at the same time, Azerbaijan was also quite  correct in judging the international community, weighing and  accepting the risks of the reaction from the West.  Azerbaijan was  accurate in predicting the employment of the usual "false  equivalency" and "inappropriate parity" in the outpouring of  diplomatic statements calling on "both sides" to de-escalate. 

" This immediate response to the Azerbaijani attacks only reinforced  Azerbaijan's self-confidence.  And such supposed expressions of  concern tended to confirm that no punitive measures would be imposed  on Azerbaijan," Giragosian noted in his IWPR's article.

However, according to him, "There were some surprises for Azerbaijan,  however.  Both the US and the EU - the Netherlands and France in  particular - adopted much more assertive stances regarding  Azerbaijan.  Such candid positions surprised the Azerbaijani  leadership, although these statements have yet to be matched by any  concrete action.  A third consideration for the timing of the attack  was a return to Azerbaijan's traditional reliance on the force of  arms to strengthen its negotiating position within the diplomatic  process with Armenia."

Giragosian is convinced thatone of the more dauting lessons from the  recent Azerbaijani attack is the now obvious absence of deterrence.   With nothing and no one currently capable of deterring Azerbaijan,  and as the post-war period is now punctuated more by pronounced  uncertainty, the outlook for a logical and reasonable return to  diplomacy seems bleak indeed. 

"Yet over the longer term, there is a degree of justifiable optimism.   The more positive outlook is based on a new, unprecedented post-war  reality.  For Azerbaijan, military pressure and aggressive posture  are not sustainable, and in fact are already delivering diminishing  dividends.  Such meagre results for Azerbaijan's reliance on force of  arms comes at a time where diplomatic re-engagement offers much more,  with benefits across three distinct areas. 

The first comprises previous agreements and concessions over regional  connectivity.  These include agreements on the restoration of rail  and roadway connections through southern Armenia, bolstered by the  first-ever recognition of the incentives of economics and trade.

A second area of progress centres on the need for a legal,  institutional process for border delineation and demarcation, which  is now underway.  With Russian involvement, the process of bilateral  engagement through an existing model of a commission of Armenian,  Azerbaijani and Russian officials, offers the promise of  de-escalation based on talks over resolving border disputes.  And the  most recent area of diplomatic gains is over the issue of a peace  process, with the ultimate aim of formulating an eventual treaty  between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  While Azerbaijan seeks to use this  area as a means to consolidate and legitimise its gains, for Armenia,  the process is more important than the product.  Given the glaring  omissions of the Russian ceasefire agreement, this is where and how  the status and security of Nagorno-Karabakh can be addressed.   Moreover, the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Brussels on August 31,  hosted by European Council president Charles Michel, did offer some  promise.  Even with the danger of a disconnect between the talks in  Brussels and developments on the ground, such European engagement is  a welcome change, with facilitation replacing mediation and providing  an important platform for the two leaders to engage.  Nonetheless, if  this really counts as optimism, it only shows just how low  expectations really are. " 

At the same time, referring to the visit of Speaker of the US House  of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Armenia, Giragosian expressed his  conviction that the visit at this difficult time for the country is  evidence of the beginning of a change in the policy of the United  States towards the region.

"This particular visit at a particular time is evidence of a change  in policy, a desire to promote Armenian democracy in the light of  recent developments and the attack of authoritarian Azerbaijan.  On  the one hand, we should not expect more - not now. This is just the  beginning of a change in policy. In my opinion, this speaks of  greater involvement of the West - the US and the EU in the  region," Giragosian said on the broadcast of RFE/RL's .  

Asked whether he considers it possible for the United States to  provide certain security guarantees, Giragosian expressed skepticism.  "I am skeptical. In this matter, I think we should avoid the illusion  that we can get direct military assistance or weapons from the West.  The situation in Ukraine is completely different and does not come  into contact with what is happening with respect to Armenia," he  said.

At the same time, the analyst is convinced that it is in the national  interests of Armenia not to aspire to join NATO, as Georgia does, but  to maintain the maximum balance between Russia and the West,  receiving certain benefits from both sides.

Giragosian drew attention to the fact that today the fate and future  of Artsakh depend more on Russian peacekeepers than on the United  States or Armenia. "It is more important here what America will do  for Armenia itself and what America will do against Azerbaijan,"  Giragosyan summed up.  

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