Pashinyan wriggles out on the diplomatic track
The foreign ministers of 27 EU countries agreed on a civilian mission, within which 40 experts will be sent to monitor and analyze the situation in the border area between Armenia and Azerbaijan for 2 months. The urge of the West to expand its influence in the region expectedly irritated the Russian side. The comment of Maria Zakharova, representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, on the deployment of an monitorring mission is quite unambiguous.
"We see this as another EU attempt to meddle in the settlement of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, to press the mediation efforts of Russia by any means, " Zakharova underlined. She also recalled the unsuccessful mediating role of the EU in the Russian-Ukraine conflict for the last 8 years.
The Kremlin's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unchanged. The only key to reconciliation between Baku and Yerevan, establishing lasting peace and long-term stability in the region is the full implementation of the tripartite statements of the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia.
Russia is not the only country that expressed bewilderment at the dangerous diplomatic turns of the Armenian leadership on the western track. Iran outlined its position delicately. On October 11, the Assistant Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the Iranian Parliament, Ibrahim Azizi, recalled at a meeting with a delegation of Armenian parliamentarians: "The problems of the region should be solved by the countries of the region, and, accordingly, the region should not be opened to foreign powers."
Will the European mediators save Armenia? Will the jump into the illusory window of opportunity turn into a fall with multiple fractures? The ne***iations under the auspices of Brussels imply the conclusion of a peace treaty, that will also include the unconditional recognition by Armenia of Azerbaijan's sovereignty over the Karabakh economic region, that again raises the issue of the withdrawal of the remnants of the Armenian Armed Forces from Karabakh, as well as the termination of direct or indirect financing of Artsakh.
In the short term, this is probably a more acceptable option for the current leadership of Armenia, which allows stabilizing the situation in the border areas under serious EU guarantees. It is important to determine whether the signing of such a peace agreement exempts from the need to fulfill the provisions of the tripartite statements signed with Azerbaijan and Russia, including on the part of the Zangezur corridor that is especially painful for Yerevan?
Unblocking communications between Azerbaijan and Armenia is a logical step after the signing of a peace treaty with any mediators. Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that it is ready for this. There is no coincidence that in the five principles of the forthcoming peace treaty announced by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, which Armenia also accepted, "opening transport and communications, establishing other relevant communications and cooperation in other areas of mutual interest" are spelled out as a separate paragraph. For Baku, the most important thing is to clear Karabakh and get an uninterrupted connection with Nakhchivan.
Pashinyan's path is reminiscent of walking through a minefield, and without a mine detector. One wrong step - and an explosion threatening the loss of one or another limb. For example, if he considers the signing of a peace treaty mediated by the EU as a replacement for the Tripartite Statement of November 9, 2020 (that is, without any reference to its provisions), then in 2025 Armenia with one hundred percent probability will lose unhindered communication with Khankendi along the Lachin corridor. The topic of the Zangezur corridor will be returned to the agenda at the first convenient opportunity. As the autumn of 2020 showed, Baku knows how to wait for the right moment.
If Nikol Pashinyan returns to Russian moderation, this will be an irreparable blow to his reputation in the West. He will also be faced with the need to implement the Zangezur corridor in the form requiring interests of Russia and Turkey. It will limit the sovereignty of Armenia over the Syunik region to some extent, no matter what the parties say about respect for the Armenian territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of the region.
How long will Armenian government be rushing between Russia and the collective West? Obviously, neither Baku, nor Moscow, nor Brussels, nor Washington will stand on ceremony with Yerevan. American officials are talking about a path to peace tied to a specific year-end time frame for a reason.
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