Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on November 8, 2022.
Here are the major topics we’ll touch on today:
● Latest “Peace” Developments
○ Border delimitation discussions in Brussels
○ Meeting of the foreign ministers in Washington DC.
● Bellicose Statements between Azerbaijan and Iran
● Ruben Vardanyan takes over as State Minister of Artsakh.
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Arthur G. Martirosyan, who is a Senior Consultant with CM Partners. In 1994, after graduating from Yale University, he joined Conflict Management Group and Harvard Negotiation Project, and has since worked on conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, and Latin America.
After the negotiations and subsequent declaration in Sochi, last week negotiations and interaction around the so called “Peace” treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan continued apace. The committees on border delimitation, which the sides have committed to complete in time for signing of the treaty, met in Brussels. Meanwhile, Bayramov and Mirzoyan flew to Washington DC to hold a meeting under the auspices of the US state dept.
Let’s talk about the border delimitation first. On Thursday November 3rd, the deputy prime ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Brussels to continue discussion on delimiting the border between the two countries.
Following the September war, Pashinyan’s government said it is committed to signing an agreement with Azerbaijan in 2022, and in October Armen Grigoryan stated that the process of delimitation is also slated for completion in 2022.
Armenia and Georgia, who are actually on friendly terms with each other, have been working for more than 20 years to delimit and demarcate their border.
● How is it possible to delimit a border which is at least twice as long as the Armenia-Georgia one, in a few months?
● If Moscow has said that its general staff archives are in possession of the most accurate maps of the region, why are these discussions being held in Brussels?
Very soon after Pashinyan met with Aliyev in Sochi, foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan announced that he will meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, in Washington DC this week, at the invitation of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. That meeting took place today on November 8, 2022. Nothing public was announced other than re-affirmation of the statements in Prague and Sochi.
The meeting in Sochi which was organized and attended by Putin. The three parties agreed on a statement: they resigned from the use and the threat of force; they agreed to resolve issues based only on mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.
Prior to the Sochi meeting, Russia had indicated that it would support a special mention of Artsakh in the declaration. There were also references by Pashinyan to a 15-point declaration, which would also prolong the duration of Russian peacekeeper deployment. These things didn’t happen, and Putin indicated disagreement among the sides as the reason for this.
Now, the sides are in Washington DC continuing their negotiations. Pashinyan says he sees no issue with this and has said that both Western and Russian proposals are acceptable to Armenia.
As Pashinyan himself admitted, the Western proposals foresee a recognition of Artsakh wholly as part of Azerbaijan.
● How can Pashinyan’s statements make sense, that both Western and Russian proposals are acceptable to Armenia?
● From a negotiation standpoint, we see Pashinyan announcing that the Western plan that excludes the status of Artsakh, is acceptable. This is right before he flies to Moscow to negotiate a Russian plan, which might include a status for Artsakh. What is Pashinyan’s negotiating tactic here?
● What does the failure to even mention Karabakh as a geographic location tell you about the balance of negotiating power between Russia and Azerbaijan? Does Moscow have any leverage over Baku?
Last week we had Benyamin Poghosyan on our podcast, and he brought up a small nuance that I think is worthwhile exploring here. He said that EU leaders and negotiators were surprised at the “Sullivan Plan”, the name given to the Washington-backed principles, which would put a deadline on negotiations and signing of a treaty. Benyamin said that EU reps didn’t favor a hard time limit since that would essentially translate to endorsing the use of force if the deadline expires.
● Is there a difference between what the EU wants to see, and what the US wants to see as the outcome of this process?
Over the past weeks, we have seen an increase in war rhetoric between Azerbaijan and Iran. The rhetoric preceded the massive military exercises that Iran held on its border with Armenia and Azerbaijan. After the exercises the rhetoric has reached critical levels, with Aliyev openly warning both Armenia and Iran.
Just yesterday, Iranian intelligence announced that a citizen of Azerbaijan was the “main element” in directing the terrorist attack against the Shahcheragh mosque on October 26 that ended up killing 15 people.
Meanwhile, today on November 8, amidst nationwide celebrations in Azerbaijan over its so-called “victory” two years ago, the flag of the “South Azerbaijan Republic'' (which is actually Northern Iran was raised in Baku. The dictator of Baku meanwhile was in occupied Shushi, where he proclaimed “we will achieve what we want, everyone knows this, and those who conduct military exercises in support of Armenia on our border should also know this. Nobody can scare us.”
· How serious is the threat of war between Azerbaijan and Iran given what we’re seeing and hearing?
After weeks of public discussion, Ruben Vardanyan was appointed to the post of State Minister in Artsakh, by president Arayik Harutyunyan. Former state minister Artak Beglaryan agreed to take an advisory role to Vardanyan.
For Vardanyan’s tenure, the state minister’s portfolio was augmented to include all but the Defense ministry.
● Why is Vardanyan assuming this post?
● While we know what he has said officially, what are the real expectations of him as Artsakh’s state minister, and how does he plan to deliver?
That was our Week in Review and we hope you found it helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Groong.org. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Follow us on Twitter, and Like our Facebook page.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we thank you for listening. Stay well, we’ll be back next week.
Arthur Martirosyan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, , Sochi, Brussels, Ararat Mirzoyan, Jeyhun Bayramov, Borders, Peace Negotiations, United States, Iran, EU, European Union, Turkey,