Geopolitical architecture of the South Caucasus: leader Azerbaijan and isolated Armenia

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Baku, 5 February 2019 –

There have recently been numerous media reports in Armenia criticizing the government of Nikol Pashinyan. Experts openly point out official Yerevan`s incompetent foreign policy and prime minister Pashinyan`s insincere attitude towards his own people. Media reports specifically raise concerns over the Armenian society`s unawareness of the state of negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. People wonder why the government is concealing the details of the talks. And what is most ridiculous about this story is that Pashinyan, who grabbed power after spending the last decade in street politics, is now hiding the truth from the people. Obviously, Pashinyan and his team are unable to be sincere with the Armenian society. But why? In this article we`ll try to find an answer to this question.

Dead-end way: Hiding details of Davos meeting

The meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Davos has become an obsession with Armenia. The Armenians have made a great fuss of that meeting. Armenian experts believe that Pashinyan is hiding some details from the society. The reason is that the prime minister himself is making contradictory statements. Pashinyan left Davos for Moscow in a hope to get an audience with Vladimir Putin. But he was received only by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and again failed to articulate anything specific.But in an interview with journalists, Pashinyan said "of course, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the focus of discussion with Ilham Aliyev. In fact, it was not an official discussion, that was an informal talk''. (see: Никол Пашинян о встрече с Ильхамом Алиевым /, January 25, 2019).

In response to a question about the return of Azerbaijan`s occupied lands around Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian prime minister said that he does not represent Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh – ed.) and that he can speak only on behalf of Armenia (see: previous source). Experts accused Pashinyan of prevarication. Interestingly, even pro-Armenian experts lashed on Pashinyan following the Davos meeting. Stanislav Tarasov went further to allege that Armenia and Azerbaijan will sign an agreement in spring after which Armenia will return seven occupied districts to Azerbaijan and the Turkish parliament will approve protocols with Armenia, paving the way for the opening of communication lines.

Pashinyan`s telling RBK television channel that "Armenia is interested in transit oil and gas projects that would run through Armenia” added to this. Experts believe that by making this statement Pashinyan regretfully admitted that not an inch of a pipeline runs through his country. But now he is begging Russia, Iran and the European Union to build "any transit pipe that would transport oil or gas from point A to point B''. A question arises here: Why such a transit pipe has not yet run through Armenia?

And the answer is obvious: because Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s lands helped by its patrons and does not want to withdraw. Pashinyan indirectly admitted that Armenia`s foreign policy is not based on reality. A number of Armenian experts even openly admit this. For example, Hrant Malik-Shahnazaryan told Irates newspaper that Armenia`s "foreign policy has been a complete fiasco''. (see: "Иратес'': Внешняя политика полностью потерпела крах – Грант Мелик-Шахназарян /, February 1, 2019).

This opinion is shared by many experts and they believe that the Armenian prime minister is hiding the details of the Nagorno-Karabakh talks. This is throwing Armenian citizens and the separatist and terrorist forces in Khankendi into total confusion. They do not understand what is happening. Lack of information paves the way for pessimistic hypotheses (see: previous source). The fact that separatists and terrorists in Nagorno-Karabakh are unaware of the true essence of the negotiations adds to these hypotheses (see: previous source). The foreign minister and prime minister contradict each other. The foreign minister says that Armenia now maintains full format talks with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while the prime minister says "I represent only Armenia'' and distances himself. Against this background, Pashinyan is seeking a meeting with Ilham Aliyev. What is the reason of this contradiction? The Armenian expert does not have an answer.

Two different leaders: Baku`s successes against a background of Yerevan`s fiasco

Malik-Shahnazaryan goes on to say that Pashinyan has failed to meet with the U.S. leadership over the past year, while President Donald Trump sent several letters to Ilham Aliyev, and John Bolton both met with him and made a telephone call on January 29.

The Armenian expert asks: Which goals does Washington, which is not interested in building contacts with Pashinyan, pursue by phoning Ilham Aliyev? The point is that during the conversation John Bolton discussed with the Azerbaijani leader a range of issues, including energy security, security cooperation and the current state of the negotiations to solve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

This means that Washington is sure that the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders maintain talks on the conflict resolution. And Baku`s position is the focus of attention because it is Azerbaijan that is advocating peace and reconciliation and taking real steps for regional cooperation. Against this background, what is Pashinyan`s goal when he speaks of energy routes?

Malik-Shahnazaryan concludes that Armenia`s foreign policy has come to a dead-end. Neither the West nor Russia nor Iran take Armenia seriously. Moscow`s attitude towards Yerevan is all too obvious. According to observations, the U.S. and Europe do not treat Armenian seriously either. Armenian leaders make contradictory statements about Iran. It seems like they are trying to balance between Washington`s and Tehran`s interests, but their incompetent handling of the affair is causing side effects. This leads to a conclusion that Armenia`s foreign policy has been a total fiasco (see: previous source).

This situation draws a clear geopolitical picture of the South Caucasus. Armenian political leaders have found themselves in a very difficult and controversial situation. The government is forced to hide its actions from the Armenian society because their long term propaganda has been built on lie and completely false principles. Although official Yerevan does not admit its isolation and tries to confuse the society with the fictitious establishment of the Armenian state in the Azerbaijani lands, these maneuvers dot not prove effective. It is evidenced by at least two factors.

Firstly, Azerbaijan has repeatedly showed that it outclasses Armenia in all areas, including army building. It was all too obvious in terms of weapon supply and in the April and Nakhchivan battles. In both battles, the Azerbaijani army proved to be much stronger than Armenia in military, technical, strategic and tactical terms. Although they do not openly admit it, Armenian leaders understood that they can no longer rely on military power and that Azerbaijan can anytime destroy Armenia.

Secondly, Azerbaijan`s foreign policy is so much successful than even countries that are members of the same military and economic bloc that Armenia is defend official Baku. Armenian experts note this fact with great regret. The presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan prefer to communicate with the Azerbaijani leader, and seem reluctant to meet with the Armenian prime minister.

The U.S. and European countries seek cooperation with Azerbaijan. They commend official Baku for redrawing the global energy map. But Pashinyan has actually failed to achieve anything. He recently visited Germany. But what did he achieve? The EU`s investment in Azerbaijan is several times bigger.

As the regional leader Azerbaijan is playing a crucial role in re-building geopolitical architecture in the South Caucasus. Meanwhile, Armenia is trying to get involved in this process at least to a certain extent. It is evidenced by official Yerevan`s regretful remarks on energy routes. There is only one way for Armenia not to continue to be isolated: it should unconditionally withdraw from Azerbaijan`s occupied territories. Nothing else can save Yerevan from regress and political chaos. Not even its foreign partners` help. The world community recognizes this. But will the Armenian leaders do?

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