Staunton, August 10 – Yerevan has reminded the members of the Organization for the Collective Security that it will assume the rotating chairmanship of that Moscow-led structure in mid-September almost certainly in the hope that it will be able to push the grouping away from the neutrality it displayed during the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan last year.
Armenia’s defense minister Arshak Karapetyan told visiting OCST secretary, Stanislav Zas, a Belarusian, that Yerevan had expected his visit much earlier and that Armenia remains unsatisfied with the failure of his organization to support Yerevan during the fighting (ng.ru/cis/2021-08-10/5_8221_armenia.html).
Yerevan has long argued that the OCST should have intervened to help Armenia against Azerbaijan and argues now that Azerbaijan’s actions in recent weeks, including expanded cooperation with Turkey and the construction of roads allowing Baku to move forces around more quickly, mean that the Organization should back Armenia more clearly now.
By advancing this argument now and by reminding Moscow that Yerevan will be in the chair of the OCST after next month, the Armenian government and its allies in the unrecognized Armenian exclave in Qarabagh which Russian forces are currently guarding, has two clear implications.
On the one hand, it suggests that the conflict that had arisen between Yerevan and the OCST over an earlier Armenian chairman has been overcome at least in part, even if Armenia is not about to forget that or the failure of the grouping to support it.
And on the other, it means that Yerevan can be counted on to use its position in the OCST to press for a change in that body’s approach to the conflict and that Moscow could use such efforts there to expand its military and border guard presence in the region.
Even the possibility of these developments is likely to exacerbate tensions not only between Yerevan and Baku but between Baku and Moscow given that the Azerbaijanis will want reassurance that the OCST is not changing course, even though its failure to do so will increase tensions between Moscow and Yerevan.
In short, the next two months promise to see an increase in tensions in the region, although the axes of those tensions will depend on how each of the players there and their supporters further afield respond.