1. What changes do you think the Second Karabakh War caused in the region?
Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War confirmed its status as the most powerful country in the South Caucasus. It also enabled Baku to claim credit for implementing the four UNSC Resolutions on the matter that had hitherto been left unfulfilled by Armenia due to the international community failing to force Yerevan into compliance. From the political perspective, the outcome also showed that Russia remains a responsible regional actor due to its role in mediating the November ceasefire. On the economic level, Azerbaijan is slated to become the crossroads of transregional connectivity upon Armenia unblocking all regional transport corridors like it pledged to do last November. Overall, the conflict heralded Azerbaijan’s rise as an important player in Eurasian affairs and one whose geostrategic significance can no longer be ignored or downplayed.
2. Can the inactivity of the OSCE Minsk Group for 30 years and the non-implementation of UN resolutions be considered an indicator of the world’s turning a blind eye to the occupation?
Yes, the OSCE Minsk Group is responsible for the conflict remaining frozen for so long. They had the responsibility to force Armenia into compliance with the four relevant UNSC Resolutions but failed to do so for various reasons. The powerful influence of the Armenian lobby in those countries is largely attributable to why this didn’t happen. There are also strategic explanations too since keeping the conflict frozen could have been considered a way for certain players to retain their regional influence through the OSCE Minsk Group and other means. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan took it upon itself to implement international law throughout the course of its successful counteroffensive against Armenia and therefore performed a valuable service to the international community. This showed that sometimes medium-sized players like Azerbaijan can do more for the cause of international law and justice than some of the larger ones that participated in the OSCE Minsk Group.
3. How do you assess the further development of events in the region?
The primary challenge lies in Armenia’s refusal to fully implement the Russian-mediated November ceasefire, especially with respect to unblocking all regional transport corridors. Prime Minister Pashinyan is going back on his word by procrastinating because he feels like he’s under immense ultra-nationalist grassroots pressure and thus fears uncontrollable rioting if he does what he initially agreed. That’s because many Armenians continue to wrongly regard the ceasefire as “shameful” even though Russia saved the remnants of their armed forces from the inevitable destruction that awaited them had Pashinyan had not agreed to that deal when he did. Instead of clinging to the past and remaining under the influence of ultra-nationalist zero-sum narratives, Armenians would do well to turn the page on their history and embrace the new future of mutually beneficial regional economic integration that the November ceasefire finally makes possible for all.
By Andrew Korybko
The interview was originally published in Azeri here