Thursday, August 19, 2021

Pashinyan Wants Talks with Baku But with OSCE Rather than Russia Playing Key Role

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 15 – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan now says he wants direct talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev so as to resolve the disputes between their two countries, but his proposal may not open the way to peace but to a further exacerbation of tensions in the region and between Moscow and the Western powers.

            That is the conclusion of Russian commentator Stanislav Tarasov who says that Pashinyan’s proposal does not constitute a real response to Aliyev’s earlier appeal for the signing of a peace treaty but rather is an attempt by the Yerevan leader to re-involve the Western powers and give him more flexibility in dealing with Moscow (

            When Pashinyan made this proposal, the Russian observer says, he listed as conditions that the OSCE Minsk Group would help arrange matters, would increase its role as a monitor of the situation (at  the expense of the Russian monitoring arrangements) and “only in third place” raised the issue of an Armenian-Azerbaijani summit.

            What this means, Tarasov says, is that Pashinyan is engaged in “a serious intrigue” that involves four elements. First, he wants the Minsk Group back so as to create a new negotiating format in addition to the one Moscow brokered in November 2020 and January 2021, thus challenging Russia’s role.

            Second, Pashinyan is doing that because unlike Baku which considers the status of Qarabagh resolved and Moscow which doesn’t want to raise that issue now, he knows that the Minsk Group still thinks that the question of status is the critical issue and needs to be addressed now rather than at some distant point, again challenging Moscow.

            Third, Pashinyan’s call leaves no role for Russia in the talks but suggests instead that it would be involved only as a co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, something that undercuts what Moscow has been doing since November of last year and raises questions about Russia’s future role in the region more generally.

            And fourth, Tarasov says, the Armenian leader’s words suggest that Yerevan is prepared to call into question any continuing role for the Russian monitoring program by suggesting that it should be the Minsk Group rather than any individual country that should be conducting such operations.

            According to the Russian analyst, “Yerevan continues to ride ahead on the horse of multi-vector policies, supposing that someone will takes its chestnuts out of the fire for it.” What that means is that he is trying to take the initiative for peacekeeping away from Russia; and not surprisingly neither Moscow nor Baku is pleased or is likely to respond favorably.

            Tarasov is not the only commentator who has weighed in against Pashinyan’s latest statement. Sarkis Tsaturyan, the ethnic Armenian chief editor of the Realist news agency, has as well, but he goes even further than the Russian. He says if Pashinyan tries to make a deal with Aliyev he will be committing treason (

            Not only would Pashinyan be violating Armenian law if he moved to recognize the Armenian-Azerbaijani border from Soviet times, Tsaturyan says; but he would be violating international law as established by the Treaty of Sevres which gives other powers a voice in any change of those borders.

            Consequently, the Armenian observer says, Pashinyan should be put on notice that any deal with Baku would lead to his being charged with treason and the isolation of his government and his country as long as he heads it from the international community. 

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