Hello and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong. In this Conversations
on Groong episode we’re going to discuss with our guests Armenia’s foreign
policy prospects in the new geopolitical context in the aftermath of the 2020
episode was recorded on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
On June 20th Armenia’s election resulted in the re-election of Nikol Pashinyan and his Civil Contract party. Meanwhile, tension in foreign affairs continues between Moscow and Ankara. What are the foreign policy prospects for Armenia and Artsakh in the new geopolitical context?
To help us unpack the
current situation and the broader regional context, we are joined by:
Dr. Pietro Shakarian, who is a
lecturer in Armenian History at the American University of Armenia in
Yerevan. His focus is the Soviet era of Armenian history, especially the era
of de-Stalinization and Nikita Khrushchev’s Thaw. He has written analyses on
Russia and the post-Soviet space for various publications, including The
Nation, Hetq, and more.
Yeghia Tashjian, who is a regional analyst and researcher based in
Beirut, with expertise in China, Iran, and the Persian Gulf. Tashjian is the Regional Officer of Women in War, a
gender-based think tank, a columnist for the Armenian Weekly and hosts a
monthly radio program called “Turkey Today”.
Let’s start with a
more global context for understanding where the conflict in the South Caucasus
sits, in the larger regional and super-power geopolitical shuffling.
entire southern flank of the former Soviet Union has become one long conflict
zone for Russia. So if we think that Russia has been
somewhat passive in helping its ally Armenia in 2020, look at all the trouble
it has: from Kiev to Kabul there are
NATO-supported conflicts, and in most of these theaters of conflict you can
also find Turkey selling its drones to Russia’s opponents.
the US pulled out of Afghanistan, it handed the Kabul airport control over to
Turkey. What are the implications for Russia and Iran?
● Afghanistan has long been a part of the cultural
world of “Greater Iran.” So by filling in for NATO, is
Turkey joining the US-led effort to “contain Iran”? Is Ankara provoking Tehran
in its backyard?
● What has been the reaction from the Gulf states and
Israel to Turkey’s latest move?
● What has been the reaction from Moscow?
● Is this a new theater for Russo-Iranian alliance?
almost become a cliché to say that Erdogan is pursuing neo-Ottoman imperial
dreams in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.
● Sure, Erdogan is emboldened by the success of
Turkish drones in Libya and Artsakh, but how realistic is a new Ottoman Empire
from Tripoli to Tajikistan?
● And what of Ankara’s continued use of Syrian
● Turkey’s economic woes, domestic crackdown on
● Is Afghanistan a new “Turkish delight” or “Turkish
nightmare”? Will Ankara become a “Prisoner of Afghanistan”?
Let’s talk a little
about Armenia’s diplomatic woes. Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan resigned on May
31st, and in the week following, his deputy foreign ministers and ministry
spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan all resigned. Only one
deputy’s resignation was rejected, as well as Naghdalyan’s,
so the ministry has enough manpower to turn the lights on and off during
decisions now go through the Prime Minister. We’re not aware of deeper
processes in reaction to Armenia’s foreign policy needs.
● Why did FM Ayvazyan and all his deputies resign at
the end of May? Remember that this was 3 weeks after the May 12th incursion of
Azeri forces into Armenia proper. And the Foreign Minister alluded to policy
disagreements with the Prime Minister.
● What are your thoughts about how the Prime Minister
has been handling the Foreign Ministry?
○ There was a lot of criticism of the MFA upon the
resignation of the FM and his deputies. What are your thoughts about how the
Foreign Ministry handled the Prime Minister?
● Has the June 20 election strengthened the Prime
Minister, or prolonged Armenia’s political crisis?
● Does the Prime Minister have a strategy for
navigating through the current state of affairs?
○ Does Civil Contract have the depth and skills to
staff an experienced diplomatic corp? There have been
rumors that NSC chair Armen Grigorian is slated to
become the next FM, yet he has no diplomatic experience at all.
● Is Armenia making wise use of its alliances with
Russia, and with the CSTO?
● What is the future of the CSTO and how is Armenia
using this organization?
Yerevan, and Syunik, which he now calls “west Zangezur”,
and probably most of the rest of Armenia are on the Caspian Khan’s latest “wish
list” of territorial demands. These claims are backed up by constant, and we
mean daily, threats of force and Turkish declarations of support.
● Is this mere Bakuvian
bluster, or is the “Kuwait on the Caspian” setting its sights on snatching a
slice of Armenia proper, in addition to the remainder of Artsakh?
○ In Artsakh, Aliyev seeks to fortify his position
and strengthen control over Shushi, Hadrut, and other Azerbaijani-controlled
areas of Artsakh.
○ In Yeraskh: Baku is
escalating tensions in this area immediately north of Nakhijevan
and 68 km from Yerevan and close to Armenia’s north-south highway.
○ There is daily cross-border fire along the eastern
borders of Syunik and Gegharkunik.
● What has been the reaction from Armenia’s Prime
Minister and Foreign Ministry?
● Are Azerbaijan and Turkey preparing for a new war
against Armenia and Artsakh?
○ What is Pashinyan’s plan
to defend Armenia and Artsakh?
○ Can Pashinyan defend Artsakh? Can he even visit
○ Will Artsakh coordinate with Moscow directly if
Yerevan is unwilling or unable to defend it against Baku and Ankara?
○ What is the Turkish endgame in Artsakh? How will
concludes this week’s Conversation On Groong on Armenian foreign policy and its
geopolitical contexts. We’ll
continue following this discussion and keep you abreast of the latest
hope this Conversation has helped
your understanding of some of the issues involved. We look forward to your
feedback, including your suggestions for Conversation
topics in the future. Contact us
on our website, at groong.org, or on our Facebook
Page “ANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network”.
thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. I’m Hovik
Manucharyan, and on behalf of everyone in this episode, I wish you a good week.
Thank you for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Subscribe and Listen
to us on...
Yeghia Tashjian, Pietro Shakarian, Armenia, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Foreign Policy, Yerevan, Moscow, Kremlin, Ankara, Tehran, Baku, Nagorno Karabakh, Artsakh, Shushi, Yeraskh, Nakhijevan, Caucasus, Black Sea, Middle East, Central Asia, Afghanistan, NATO, CSTO