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Waiting for “West Azerbaijan”?

September 27 2023, 10:48

Since 2018, we have constantly underestimated the statements of Nikol Pashinyan and members of his team, as well as the plans voiced by Turkiye and Azerbaijan.

Thus, very few in May 2018 correctly assessed Nikol Pashinyan’s statements made in Stepanakert, when saying that “he does not have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of Artsakh, since he was not elected by the people of Artsakh,” he did not try to open a place for negotiation table for official Stepanakert, but began to sabotage this negotiation process, began to destroy the negotiation system created over decades.

The statement of a member of Pashinyan’s team, who said that “the revolution of 2018 was more important than the victory in the Karabakh war,” was not assessed correctly either.

Sense of the impending threat did not come even after the 2020 war, otherwise it is difficult to explain the appearance of former Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan at the election headquarters of the Civil Contract party on the night of June 21, whose participation in the election process was clearly not limited to just visiting the headquarters.

Moreover, even the blockade of the Lachin corridor did not force the political elite of both Armenia and Artsakh to reconsider their assessment of the situation. Remember all these conversations that “Artsakh needs an air corridor”, that “by putting pressure on Baku in the international media we can change the situation.” Remember also the rumors that in Artsakh the refusal to voice political assessments of Pashinyan’s actions was justified by the fact that “Yerevan may stop funding Artsakh.” There were also more closed discussions, during which representatives of official Stepanakert explained the lack of political assessments of Nikol Pashinyan’s actions by saying that “this would be interference in the domestic policy of Armenia, and such responsibility cannot be assigned to Artsakh.” As a result, not wanting to engage in the political processes in Armenia, the people of Artsakh became a part of Azerbaijan’s political processes.

Since 2018, the same applies to all analyzes of the situation, and to those analysts who noted that the events of the “Armenian spring of 2018” had the goal of a transformation of the geopolitical situation of the region, which should not have been limited only to the surrender of Artsakh to Azerbaijan, but also to the expulsion of Russia from the region, and the creation of a common land border between Azerbaijan and Turkiye.

The same happened with the statements of Azerbaijan and Turkiye – no one paid attention to them, no one appreciated them enough, although it eventually became obvious that Baku and Ankara were much more frank with the Armenian people and Pashiyan’s voters than the Armenian government itself.

So, back in May 2019, the former head of the presidential administration of Azerbaijan, Ramiz Mehdiyev, wrote that it was acceptable for Baku that Pashinyan negotiated “the resolution of the Karabakh problem in the logic of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s policy”, that is, the recognition of Baku’s sovereignty over Artsakh.

The military and political elite of Artsakh and Armenia did not properly respond to the political changes that occurred in Azerbaijan in the summer of 2020, when, after the “July clashes” on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, the Turkish role sharply intensified in Azerbaijan’s domestic policy. A number of personnel changes took place in Aliyev’s government, with both Turkish weapons and Syrian terrorists being sent to the region.

After the end of the war, Aliyev and Erdogan not only repeatedly stated that “the Karabakh issue is resolved,” but also signed the “Shushi Declaration,” clearly outlining their territorial claims against Armenia.

Almost 10 months after the start of the Artsakh blockade, Baku at this historical stage resolved the issue of “political subjectivity and status of Artsakh,” and immediately after the operation, Aliyev and Erdogan announced claims to Syunik, with hearings being held in the Azerbaijani parliament on the topic “Return to Western Azerbaijan: legal aspects.”

During the hearings, representatives of the “West Azerbaijan Community” announced new demands.

1. Azerbaijanis must return to 300 settlements on the territory of Armenia

2. Armenia caused material damage to private farms in the amount of $2.5 billion, and to public farms in the amount of $17.5 billion.

However, even now the ongoing events do not receive the proper response in the internal political life of Armenia.

At the same time, Turkiye and Azerbaijan understand perfectly well that lost Karabakh will set off a chain of events that could lead to the dissolution of the Armenian statehood as a whole (exactly the same as the fall of the Berlin Wall ended with the collapse of the USSR), turning these 29,800 square kilometers of territory into a “free hunting zone” for various geopolitical actors.

So, waiting for “West Azerbaijan”?