Karabakh Peace Talks in US, Baku’s Attempt to Discredit Russia in Caucasus

2023/05/21 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - Interview: An expert on international law, saying that Baku is trying to discredit Russia in the developments in the Caucasus, referred to the negotiations between Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the United States and noted: Washington, to compensate for its diplomatic backwardness in the second Karabakh war, is trying to create an alternative to the Russian mechanism and push the developments in a direction that is against the interests of Iran and Russia.

Dr. Ahmad Kazemi, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, stated that after the signing of the tripartite ceasefire agreement between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia with the mediation of Russia in 2020, Moscow tried to turn this tripartite agreement into the only political and legal mechanism to resolve Baku-Yerevan disputes, adding: Moscow had achievements in this process, especially before the start of the war in Ukraine, but the United States and Europe opposed this process from the beginning for several reasons.

He added: First of all, from the point of view of the United States and Europe, the Minsk Group is still active in resolving the Karabakh conflict, and the remarks of the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding the end of this group are not valid. The White House considers Russia’s unilateral mediation contrary to the continued activity of the Minsk Group. Second, Russia’s role in resolving the differences between Baku and Yerevan contradicts the White House strategy to weaken Moscow in the Caucasus and expel it from this region. From Washington’s view, Russia’s mediation helps to extend the mission of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh, which is not what the US is looking for.

Explaining the third reason for the opposition of the United States and Europe to Moscow’s proposed process in Karabakh, the analyst of Caucasus developments said: Moscow’s tripartite agreement is not a peace agreement, but a ceasefire agreement. Therefore, many issues remain unresolved, such as the delimitation of borders, the return of prisoners, and the legal situation of the Armenians of Karabakh. In such a situation, Washington, to compensate for its diplomatic backwardness in the second Karabakh war, is trying to create an alternative to the Russian mechanism and push the developments in a direction that is against the interests of Iran and Russia.

Kazemi pointed out: Currently, there are three tripartite mechanisms with the mediation of Russia, the US, and Europe (Joseph Burrell), but none of them has come to fruition due to the extent of disputes and Baku’s territorial expectation of southern Armenia.

Saying that Baku, influenced by the support of Britain, Israel, and Turkey, has tried to challenge Russia’s prestige and traditional position in the Caucasus by using the opportunity of the Ukraine war and discredit Russia, he called this measure a result of miscalculation. He continued: During the second Karabakh war, Mr. Putin announced that if the war were extended into Armenia, the Collective Security Treaty would intervene, but in August 2022, during the military invasion of Baku, such a promise was not fulfilled; while this invasion was unquestionable and Elham Aliyev, the President of Baku, had previously admitted in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Baku had reached its international borders with Armenia in 2020.

The international law expert recalled: Baku’s action since last year in the continuous blocking of the Karabakh to Armenia crossing, and the Lachin crossing, to pressure Yerevan to give up its territory in the south of Armenia and also under the influence of the Aliyev family’s concessions to Britain for the exclusive extraction of gold mines, hurt the image of Russia. This behavior of Baku was met with concern and condemnation from the US, France, and some other countries.

Kazemi emphasized: Baku took this action in the circumstances that during the Karabakh war, Aliyev claimed that he would deal with the residents of Karabakh like other citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, while the long-term closure of Lachin crossing, which is the only way to transfer medicine and essential items to Karabakh, from a legal point of view, is called “forcible starvation of the civilian population,” which according to the Rome Statute (1999) regarding the International Criminal Court, is considered a gross example of a “crime against humanity.”

According to the researcher of developments in the Caucasus, not only was Russia not successful in reopening this crossing, Aliyev tried to discredit Russia’s position in the Caucasus by establishing a checkpoint at the beginning of the Lachin crossing since April; because Baku’s actions were a clear violation of Moscow’s agreement. In such a situation, the Armenians, who declared their readiness to open their airspace to the planes of the Republic of Azerbaijan to communicate with Nakhchivan and also to establish communication lines based on the absolute sovereignty of the host government, expected the Russians to put aside patience and respond appropriately and effectively to Baku’s measures.

At the same time, he added: the pro-West government of Yerevan also tried to use this weakness of Russia to justify public opinion to lay the groundwork for withdrawing from the Collective Security Treaty, inviting European Union observers and also welcoming negotiations with the mediation of Europe and the United States.

The author of the book “Security in the South Caucasus” said that despite the emphasis of the US foreign secretary on the significant progress in the negotiations, the results showed that there are still serious obstacles to the signing of the peace treaty, adding: There is no prospect for peace until Baku stops its Turani greed for southern Armenia. The territorial integrity of Armenia is the “area of 29,800 square kilometers” and is the red line of the Armenian government and the people.

Kazemi explained: It seems that the strategy of Pashinyan’s government is that by renouncing Karabakh, and force Baku to sign a peace treaty in which the territorial integrity of Armenia is explicitly acknowledged. After signing such an agreement, Pashinyan’s government plans to talk with Baku about reopening “normal transportation lines under the sovereignty of Armenia.” It is in the conditions that in the peace talks with Yerevan, Baku not only is not looking at the interests of the people of that country but from the perspective of advancing the geopolitical changes desired by Britain, Turkey, and the Zionist regime and is seeking to realize the illusion of NATO’s Turani Corridor and the fake Zangezur Corridor.

Saying that Baku is not seeking to recognize the territorial integrity of Armenia, he added: Continuation of this process can cause critical situations despite the initial optimism because, firstly, the Pashinyan government cannot retreat further from the current situation about Baku. On the one hand, Pashinyan is accused of betraying the Armenians of Karabakh and ignoring the legal status of its autonomy, which was established even in the Soviet era and was an independent rule of the Khans before that. On the other hand, in the future, the Armenian people are worried that even the normal reopening of the communication lines to Nakhchivan will be the basis for the continuation of Baku’s ambitions for the south of Armenia.

Kazemi added: It is in such a situation that Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, in his evaluation of the negotiations between Yerevan and Baku in the United States, emphasized that the talks have not made progress on fundamental issues and “only if the armed forces of Baku withdraw from the territory of Armenia” a peace treaty can be signed.

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