In the past month, Azerbaijan has fired on Armenian and Artsakh border positions and villages almost daily, and in the past couple of weeks they installed concrete barriers on their so-called checkpoint on the Lachin/Berdzor corridor, to block all connection between the two Armenian states. Additionally, Azerbaijan’s shootings killed 4 Artsakh servicemen a week ago.
Authorities in Artsakh urged Armenia to stop negotiations with Azerbaijan as long as Baku keeps resorting to violence.
Despite all this, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan were again in Washington DC this past week for talks mediated in the State Department by secretary of state Anthony Blinken. At the end of the negotiating session, Blinken announced “some progress”, around several more articles of a document that will be called “Peace and Normalization of Relations”.
Former foreign minister Vardan Oskanian said today that if only Pashinyan would leave diplomacy to expert diplomats, 3 months would be enough to achieve a significantly positive outcome. He said that in order to do this, the logic and narrative of the negotiations must change. \
There are are four major agenda items where the current disagreements reportedly lie:
Let’s dive a little deeper into this “rights and security” talk which the Pashinyan regime has put its hopes on.
Empirically, the Soviet years have shown that any existence of Armenians that is subordinate to Baku, no matter how autonomous, has been destructive and ended up in ethnic cleansing of Armenians. We can point to Nakhichevan, which was depopulated of its indigenous Armenian residents during the Soviet regime, and Artsakh itself, which went from an over 90% demographic in the 1920s, to 74% in 1988, when the struggle for self-determination and independence began.
Now, the leadership of Azerbaijan - one that has undergone 30 years of government-sponsored anti-Armenian hate indoctrination - has explicitly rejected the idea of providing rights and security guarantees to the Armenians of Artsakh.
Apparently Armenia is not simply OK with using the 1975 Soviet maps as a basis for border demarcations, they actually want to use these maps. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has so far rejected this, saying that with other countries Azerbaijan has demarcated borders “on the basis of analyses and examination of legally binding documents, rather than any specially chosen maps.”
There were no statements or comments made about the third and fourth items, “unblocking” and “guarantees”, so it appears that negotiations in DC sort of petered out.
Pashinyan’s government has claimed that one of their main achievements is in returning Karabakh to the negotiating table. Not only do we not see Stepanakert around the negotiations anywhere, but Yerevan is roundly ignoring Stepanakert’s call to stop negotiations.
It has been 19 days since the complete closing of the so-called “checkpoint” to even humanitarian supplies.
Reportedly Stepanakert last month rejected US-mediated Baku-Stepanakert discussions because the US was pushing Azerbaijan’s “integration” agenda forward. Stepanakert wanted to discuss lifting the blockade and other humanitarian issues.
Pashinyan’s policy that he recognizes Artsakh as Azerbaijan has led to other international actors standing up to support capitulation and abandon the cause of Artsakh:
Artsakh is totally surrounded and strangled with apparently even Armenian leaders slowly normalizing its abandonment. The mandate of Russian peacekeepers expires in 2 years and Azerbaijan is sending clear signals that it will not agree with a renewal of the mission for another 5 years.
This is a reminder that if you’re a citizen of Armenia and eligible to vote, then please go and sign this citizen’s initiative.
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We hope you found our Week in Review helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions, you can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.
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.
Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.
Asbed is founder of Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.