Baku, 14 April 2017 – Newtimes.az
As the superpowers spar for influence on the global level, it exacerbates the risk factor in different regions. Development scenarios around the processes in the South Caucasus are subject of particular interest. European think-tanks produce projections of their own on this issue but those forecasts differ with respect to certain aspects. There are some fascinating theses, most importantly on Russia and the issue of the conflicts. Armenian analysts choose to address the issue of a war. According to them, only a war can make Armenia independent – the one between the U.S. and Russia. The future of the South Caucasus is a matter of grave concern in light of such an utterly perilous prospect. Would the world fall for another Armenian provocation?
Forecast: Europeans’ Arguments and Realities of South Caucasus
The South Caucasus policies of the large powers have always remained high on the agenda. This issue appeals to the experts against the backdrop of the recent shifts in the global politics. Dynamics of the geopolitical landscape in Caucasus, in general, are truly fascinating. Some believe that the very factor can impact the future of the U.S.-Russia relationship. Many experts have rushed to produce their own analyses, with notable ones produced by the think-tanks in the UK, France, Germany and Belgium.
The British analysts display the greatest deal of interest here and perhaps they are the ones that shape the conception about the South Caucasus in the West. There are over 10 British think-tanks that conduct Caucasus related researches. France and Germany are also quite active on this subject and generally, the European Union appears energetic on this front.
The different approaches are centered on Russia’s regional policy and conflict resolution - both issues being equally vital for the countries of the region. Those issues are key criteria in evaluation of the prospects for sovereign existence, peace and cooperation. In the meantime, these issues often become the bone of contention in the relationship between the large powers.
First, let us focus on Western assessment of Russia’s policies. Russia has traditionally been known for its significant influence across the region. This fact is well-acknowledged. The sustainability of that reality is the big question here. The European analysts believe that Russia’s regional relevance will eventually diminish. Yet the process may take many years and therefore, finding common language would be the best option under the current circumstances. However, if France and Germany favor the soft approach in dealings with Kremlin, Britain calls for tougher posture as London is more aligned with Washington on these issues. This is why the possibility of two large powers coming head-to-head in the region seems like a valid scenario.
The situation is rather complicated when it comes to the regional conflicts. The West supports Georgia unequivocally in the Georgia-Russia conflict and has, on many occasions, raised the issue of liberation of Georgia’s occupied territory. Moscow has and continues to face such demands. EU’s position on Georgia is as clear and firm as the one on Ukraine.
European countries’ position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh conflict is somewhat different. Although they voice support to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, their actions attest to the contrary. They provide economic, financial and military assistance to Armenia. They fail to demand firmly and unequivocally that Armenia withdraws from the occupied territory. Furthermore, they oppose Azerbaijan launching military operations to that end. Apparently, Europe applies double standards with respect to the conflicts.
This is why the geopolitical dynamics in the South Caucasus is such a pressing matter. Armenian experts have produced a fascinating thesis in this respect. They acknowledge Armenia’s total dependence on Russia and argue that a war could be the only way to save Armenia from this vassalage (see: Игорь Мурадян. Война как фактор независимости / "Lragir.am", 3 April 2017).
Military Provocation: Region Facing Increasing Risk Emanating from Armenia
When referring to the war the Armenian experts imply a clash between America and Russia, with Armenia being the ultimate prize. Moscow is unlikely to stand down. It has a vast intelligence network across Armenia and has installed significant number of its loyalists within the country’s military establishment. Top political leadership in the country is also staffed according to Kremlin’s preferences. As far as the U.S. is concerned "it attempted to see the shaping of the new government through in Armenia to no avail” (see: previous reference). Under the current circumstances the "war could result in Russia being pushed out of the region… The war must inevitably alter the geopolitical structure in the region and lead to Armenia’s political independence” (see: previous reference).
One notable aspect here is that even the Armenian analysts recognize the fact of Armenia being deprived of political and military-economic independence. That it remains under the influence of external powers and there can be no sovereignty and independent policy making in such an environment. The official Yerevan has never acted independently, neither in domestic politics nor on the issue of Nagorno Karabakh. Therefore, the Armenian experts admit that Azerbaijan’s territory has been occupied owing to serious external political, military, ideological and informational support.
Another aspect has to do with the fact that Armenia is yet to become a functioning state. It is half-way through the institutionalization process which also lacks content. The state apparatus is filled with people representing different foreign powers. Therefore, there cannot be a legitimate debate about real elections or human rights. Civil liberties are tailored to the needs of the external powers. Thus, Armenians flee their home country in hundreds of thousands and the process is irreversible.
Finally, Armenia’s leaders and expert circles of the country have no confidence in democratic reforms. They are restricted in their imagination to military means when it comes to addressing domestic and regional problems. This means that incumbent authorities in Armenia have no solid reforms agenda and their plans are detached from reality. It is nothing but a public relations campaign given that society is not ready for such reforms. There is no fertile ground. Armenia is yet to produce a concept that defies the war paradigm.
This is a perilous environment for a small nation because a day will come when Armenians fall victim to this absurdity. Moreover, the idea of the U.S. and Russia coming head-to-head in the region is extremely dangerous. Ramifications for the region would be enormous. Place called Armenia could disappear from the map. Also because a fake country called Armenia is something of Russia’s making. And Moscow believes it has the all the rights to wreak havoc there. Such messages have occasionally come from Moscow. For instance, the former boss of the "Regnum” news agency Modest Kolerov once wrote that "Armenia was literally nothing without Russia”.
Indeed, Armenians are trying to involve America in a serious military provocation, with primary objective being to maintain uncertainty in Nagorno Karabakh and prolong their presence there. It would certainly be naive to presume that such a superpower as the U.S. could fall for such a miserable trick.
Thus, the European and Armenian experts have finally come to realize that Armenia was a source of grave threat for the region – something that the vast majority of experts have argued for a long time. The official Yerevan’s political line has been so vague and subordinate that positive changes using civil means seem unfeasible. In fact, Armenia has become the region’s powder keg and single spark could destroy everything.
The conclusion is that Azerbaijan is a country that safeguards the geopolitical stability in the region. Baku brings sense of balance to the situation with its balanced and independent policies, given Georgia’s extreme Western orientation and Armenia’s absolute dependence on Russia. Azerbaijan is not interested in disengagement of any large power from the region because that would be unnatural. The world is becoming increasingly global and if the integration is growing, the departure of any large power from the South Caucasus could have consequences. Therefore, forging environment of cooperation in the region would be more appropriate.
Indeed, the aforementioned aspects demonstrate that as the struggle between the large powers in the South Caucasus is becoming fiercer, this exacerbates the geopolitical uncertainty. Warmonger Armenia favors destruction, Georgia remains on the sidelines and it is only Azerbaijan that is vigorous, aiming to ensure peace and stability. All of this is another testimony to seriously contentious situation in the region.