Thursday, 21 February 2019

E Editorial

If not the formula "territories for peace" - then what?

A rather long period of uncertainty in the strategy of the new authorities of Armenia on the settlement of the Artsakh crisis has inflated the nerves of the Armenian public. On January 28, at the ceremony of celebrating the anniversary of the Armenian army, the Armenian Foreign Minister was perplexed, having failed to explain what he was talking about with his Azerbaijani counterpart for hours. He had no choice but to say: "An alternative to negotiations is a catastrophe." In fact, he confirmed the public suspicions that the authorities have no strategy, no goal. Negotiations are conducted for the sake of negotiations, with the hope of having a "good chance." These days the appointment of a prominent figure from the Armenian National Congress party, Vladimir Karapetyan, as the press secretary of the prime minister, brought the intrigues on the strategy of the authorities to a peak. The ghosts of the revival of the course on a phased settlement of the Artsakh problem, whose supporter was and remains Vladimir Karapetyan, entered the information field of Armenia.

One could have expected Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to come up with some explanations. So it was. On January 30, the latter declared: “We cannot, in principle, cannot discuss the formula “territories for peace”. Our government is pursuing a policy in the Karabakh settlement that has not been pursued by any government. If someone is trying to draw parallels with the old political policies, I will say right away that this is a misconception.” That is, Pashinyan publicly dissociated himself from his predecessors. But does this mean that the new authorities of Armenia really have a new strategy? And if so, what is it? It seemed that a sufficient degree of specificity was brought into the situation. However, the most important aspects remain unclear: what practical goals does the Armenian leadership pursue in the negotiations, and for what topics does it take responsibility in these negotiations? After all, if we proceed from the logic of things, the territorial aspects of settlement go beyond the responsibility of the Republic of Armenia. And in general, all the provisions of the Madrid Principles discussed up to now relate to Artsakh and Azerbaijan. The Armenia is not responsible for problems that go beyond its constitutional territory and borders.

Do all these statements by Pashinyan mean that in any negotiations he will refuse to discuss territorial issues? If so, then it will be possible to talk about a truly practical negotiation strategy, the purpose of which should be to involve Artsakh in the negotiation process. The situation for Azerbaijan is aggravated - discussing the territorial aspects of the problem with Artsakh is not acceptable to them. But, if Azerbaijan reasoned the inadmissibility of the requirement to install control mechanisms on the contact line of troops (Vienna agreements) by claiming that it would strengthen the status quo, then it’s not quite easy to explain to the mediators why they refuse to negotiate with Artsakh.

Whether Nikol Pashinyan realizes the seriousness of his statements, time will tell.

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