Sunday, 01 10 2023
Sunday, 01 10 2023
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“There will be a geopolitical competition to conduct the Stepanakert-Baku negotiations.” Gantaharyan

Radar Armenia‘s interlocutor is Shahan Gantaharyan, an international scholar.

Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan and the Minister of State resigned. Sergey Shahramanian was appointed the new state minister. What effect can these changes have on the situation in Artsakh?

– The resignation of the Artsakh president has been talked about for some time, even in semi-official circles. The phenomenon is caused by the general change of heads of state institutions and not only by the president’s resignation. There are changes in the National Assembly’s chairman, the state minister, and the republic’s president. Notably, the evolution of the heads of state institutions is not due to the change in the parliamentary landscape. The positive thing is that the processes are proceeding by consensus. Even former presidents are involved in consultations and decision-making processes. The most important part of the president’s resignation statement was that he is resigning to maintain the presence and solidarity of Artsakh. There is a pan-Artsakh awareness that internal spying will only help Azerbaijan’s plans. There is also a special effort to avoid creating a constitutional crisis and preserve state institutions’ legitimacy.

– Do you expect changes in terms of the position of Artsakh?

– Significant changes will remain the same. The start of Stepanakert-Baku negotiations is being prepared, and geopolitical interest is already visible here. On the one hand, Moscow should try to keep the steering wheel of a purely tripartite format in its hands; on the other hand, the international community should consistently discuss the involvement of international instruments in these negotiations.

The American side insists that the representatives of Baku and Stepanakert should meet. Baku responds that they consider this and then add that the issue has political nuances. Is the situation created in Artsakh a humanitarian or a political problem?

– Baku will agree to negotiate with Stepanakert only according to its agenda. Baku’s precondition approach is straightforward. It is not in a hurry to respond to the US proposal because it is against the involvement of any international format; on the other hand, it considers the policy of not taking a step against Moscow. The parties are really on an excellent line. There will be a geopolitical competition to conduct the Stepanakert-Baku negotiations. And, in this sense, the game will not proceed purely by Azerbaijani rules.

Do you see a connection between the resignation of the president of Artsakh, the change of the head of the Russian peacekeepers, and the Putin-Erdogan meeting to be held on September 4?

– Whoever is at the helm of Stepanakert cannot ignore the Russian factor under these conditions. And the head of the peacekeepers must implement the decisions made by the military-political leadership of Moscow. Erdogan’s statement that the peacekeeping mission expires in two and a half years and Ankara’s hopes that Moscow will respect its promise and leave Artsakh will push Moscow to strengthen its position in Artsakh further. The USA will pressure Ankara to step away from Moscow. To continue its deals with Russia, Ankara must try to make political trade in different directions. The remainder of the peacekeeping mission is part of that trade. In return, Moscow reminds on the road to Damascus that the Turkish troops must leave the Syrian territories. Such delays will continue.

Azerbaijan sent humanitarian cargo to Artsakh, essentially proving that there is a humanitarian crisis in Artsakh. How can this fact be used to make the problem solvable?

– Even though Azerbaijan has won and is in a hurry to sign diplomatic agreements, its desired tasks still need to be fixed. The discussion of the Zanezuri Corridor has gone beyond rhetoric. Aghdam-Stepanakert Road needs to be fixed. The Nakhichevan-Azerbaijan road, too. There has yet to be an agreement on the demarcation agenda. The peace agreement has yet to be signed. All of these talk about the involvement of the superpowers in the region, points of conflict of interest, and, due to all these circumstances, the lack of solutions. The integration agenda can be delayed like other directions.

How do you interpret the activation of the French and, especially, the German sides regarding the situation in Artsakh?

– The activation of France, Germany, and, in general, Brussels in the region, in this case also in Artsakh, tends to neutralize the uniqueness of the Russian factor. The activation of everyone in the Caucasian area should be perceived with the urge to design counterbalancing processes, to be present, and to form spheres of influence.

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