Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on Monday August 1, 2022.
Here are the major topics we’ll touch on today:
● Tehran 2022 Trilateral Summit
● “Normalization” or Pax Turkiana?
● EU - Azerbaijan gas deal
● Diaspora Personae Non-Grata
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Yeghia Tashjian, who is a regional analyst and researcher based in Beirut, with expertise in China, Iran and the Persian Gulf. Tashjian is Associate Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and hosts a monthly radio program called “Turkey Today”.
On July 19, presidents Putin and Erdogan met in Tehran with Iranian president Raisi, as well as Ayatollah Khamenei. Turkey, Russia, and Iran have multiple fronts for cooperation, as well as conflict. The key current flashpoint is in Syria, but there were multiple statements released by the leaders about the South Caucasus as well.
Khamenei clearly reiterated Iran’s redline about tampering with the Iran-Armenia border. It was clear that the topic came up in discussions, and Iran vetoed any corridor logic that obstructs it, by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
● What could have been the context of the discussions that pushed Iran to come out with their statement with such clarity and force?
Many analysts say that the Turkish attack on civilians in tourist town Parakh in Iraq on July 21 was a sign that Turkey was not completely happy with whatever was discussed in Tehran. Others say that the Turkish attack couldn’t have happened without a tacit agreement from Russia and Iran on “spheres of influence”.
● What were some of the results of this Tehran 2022 meeting?
● What successes and failures did each of the participants come away with?
Following the meeting, Turkey came out with an uncharacteristically clear statement of preconditions for the Turkish-Armenian “Normalization” process.
● Why did this sudden, almost knee-jerk, seemingly frustrated response come out?
● What support was Turkey hoping to hear from Iran and Russia that didn’t come?
In the days following the Tehran summit, Armenia and Azerbaijan continued their bilateral process. A week ago, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, the foreign ministers, met in Tbilisi, and while Bayramov expressed satisfaction that the negotiations were registering some progress, we saw this week Azeri forces firing at multiple Armenian positions. This was accompanied by daily false announcements that Armenians have violated the ceasefire. Usually this happens when Aliyev is not happy with negotiations.
● What is the state of the Armenia-Azerbaijan bilateral negotiations towards some form of agreement?
● Why does Armenia seem to be in a hurry to comply and seal a deal?
● What are the politics of each side that keep them pushing for further meetings and discussions?
On July 18, European Commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen struck a deal in Baku to double the EU’s gas imports from Azerbaijan by 2027. As the EU turns away from Russian energy, Azerbaijan’s dictatorship is seen as a partner for “value rich” Europe.
Money is everything, we know. But we noted some interesting points in a draft of the memorandum of understanding:
● Azerbaijan inserted language about territorial integrity, sovereignty, inviolability of borders, and so on - in a gas contract!
● Nothing about democracy. - Even though the EU insisted on such language with Egypt.
● Section 2 contains language about interlinking electricity networks with Nakhijevan. Is there a hidden risk here, maybe related to Syunik? (Nakhijevan doesn't generate its own electricity)
● Azerbaijan does not have the resources to replace Russian gas, but the EU’s hoping to add up a number of smaller sources to make up for most of what it gets from Russia. What are the prospects of this deal?
● Can the EU be an impartial mediator towards peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, given what we’ve read about this “partnership” between Azerbaijan and the EU?
We are still completely taken aback by the news two weeks ago that a diasporan activist, Mourad Papazian, was declared a persona non-grata by the Pashinyan regime. We talked about this in our previous episode.
During Papazian’s arrest the Pashinyan administration didn’t even bother to tell him or the public what was the reason for the ban. Only 10 days after the incident, the Armenian authorities alleged that Papazian was involved in planning attacks against Pashinyan in France. There is no evidence of this, and Papazian has vehemently denied this. In addition, the allegations don’t make any sense considering that the incident happened in June 2021 and since then Papazian has been to Armenia at least 5 times, without any issues.
Well, over the weekend, we learned that a young activist from the Netherlands, Suneh Abrahamian, was held up at the airport in Zvartnots as she was trying to enter the country and after 12 hours, was told that she is not welcome in Armenia. Suneh says that she was visiting to participate in volunteer work in Syunik. The Armenian authorities, just like the case with Papazian, are completely silent.
● What is your opinion, especially as a diasporan, on these incidents?
That was our Week in Review show, and we hope it helped you catch up with some of the issues in and around Armenia from this past week. As always, we invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Groong.org.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Like our pages and follow us on social media. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Yeghia Tashjian, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Tehran, Vladimir Putin, Ebrahim Raisi, Recep Erdogan, European Union, EU, Ursula Von Der Leyen, South Caucasus, Turkey, Russia, Gas, LNG, Pipelines, EU, Southern Corridor, Turkish Armenian Normalization, Avetik Chalabyan, Ara Chalabyan, Vahagn Hovakimyan, Nikol Pashinyan,