prof. Dr. Yıldız Deveci Bozkuş wrote the reasons and consequences of the re-starting conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia for AA Analysis.
After the conflicts that started in the South Caucasus in 2020 and ended with a 44-day Karabakh victory, tensions started to escalate again in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, just at a time when peace was being sought in the region.
At a time when the normalization process was started with the agreement reached in the relations between the two countries, the tension in the region increased with the clashes that started at the border points on 12 September. While the international community called for restraint regarding the conflicts in which the two countries suffered serious losses, the Armenian administration convened the Security Council in the capital.
– HOW DID THE CONFLICT BEGIN?
Clashes started late at night on 12 September and intensified in the morning of 13 September. Azerbaijan stated that the conflicts started with the provocation attempts of the Armenian army in the direction of Dashkesen, Kelbacer, Lachin and Zangilan. The Azerbaijani army stated that it has taken some measures against provocation attempts since Armenian soldiers laid mines on the areas and roads in its military positions. Stating that these measures were mostly aimed at local and military targets, the Azerbaijani administration claimed that civilians and infrastructures were not targeted, as stated by the Armenian side.
In the Azerbaijan-Armenia relations, just at a time when regional peace and stability, normalization of relations, transportation and infrastructure projects started to be discussed, the conflicts that started at the border had wide repercussions both in the region and in the international public opinion. Again, the fact that the conflicts coincided with such a period also caused concerns in all segments that they were returning to the beginning.
In the days when the conflicts continued, the administration in Armenia convened the Armenian Security Council and decided to make an official application to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the United Nations (UN) that there was an attack on the territory of Armenia.
– REASONS FOR CONFLICT AGAINST
While the Azerbaijani side claims that the reason for the resumption of the conflicts was that the Armenian soldiers were prevented from laying mines on the border, the Armenian side claims that the first attack was made by Azerbaijan.
It is pointed out in the Azerbaijani public that the Armenian side’s failure to adequately fulfill the requirements of the agreement has an important role in the conflicts. However, the fact that Armenia came to the fore with such a provocation at a time when a new page was opened in relations with both Turkey and Azerbaijan, makes one think that the Karabakh Clan is still influential in Yerevan.
Among the underlying causes of the conflict are the expectations and disagreements about the opening of the Zangezur corridor, as well as the developments in the international arena with the Russia-Ukraine war. In addition, the fact that the requirements of the 10 November 2020 memorandum are still not fully met has a significant impact.
– HOW TO EVOLUTION?
The resumption of such conflicts in a period when peace and tranquility are prioritized in the South Caucasus will also damage the belief in peace, tranquility and stability in the society. Especially after the 44-day Karabakh victory, Pashinyan’s re-employment in Armenia was actually the most important indicator that the Armenian community was fed up with wars and conflicts. For this reason, Pashinyan’s period was also considered as an opportunity for the Armenian community. However, the re-experiencing of such a major conflict between the two countries after the 44-day Karabakh War overturned all expectations of peace and stability in the public opinion.
It is possible to say that if the conflicts continue, all sides of the regional peace and tranquility process, especially Azerbaijan and Armenia, will be adversely affected by these developments. Because the normalization process that started in the South Caucasus after the agreement was of great importance not only for the relations between the two countries, but also for the countries in the region. For this reason, the failure of this process will have regional and global effects. It would be in everyone’s interest to end this process, in which the parties mutually accuse each other of provocation, as soon as possible before further losses are incurred. As a matter of fact, if the conflicts continue, the validity of the 10 November 2020 agreement signed between the parties may also be questioned.
– REACTIONS FROM THE WORLD
The conflicts have received wide coverage in the international community. On the subject, Nasser Kenani, spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that “We do not accept a change in the borders” and stated that Iran respects the territorial integrity of the two countries and that they are in favor of solving existing problems in accordance with international law and peacefully.
Regarding what happened at the border, the Armenian administration; Russian President Vladimir Putin also held some meetings with Iranian President Ibrahim Reisi, European Union (EU) Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron. While France stated that it would bring the issue to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the United States called for an immediate end to the conflicts and peaceful resolution of the problems between the two countries.
On the other hand, the Armenian administration tried to create public opinion in the relevant countries by accusing Azerbaijan of attacking Armenian lands during these meetings. The Collective Security Treaty Organization decided to send a delegation to Armenia to examine the conflicts on the border of the two countries and to prepare a report.
Turkey, on the other hand, clearly demonstrated the support it gave to Azerbaijan during the 44-day Karabakh War. Azerbaijan Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov held a phone call with his counterpart, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov held a phone call with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Speaking on his Twitter account, Çavuşoğlu stated that “Armenia should stop provoking. It should focus on peace negotiations and cooperation within the framework of the reconciliation they have reached with Azerbaijan,” and underlined that both countries should focus on peace and stability, and underlined that regional peace would benefit everyone.
– WHAT IS INTENDED?
Among the underlying reasons for the provocative attempts, it should not be forgotten that the efforts of Armenia to prevent the reconstruction and infrastructure works carried out by Azerbaijan in the areas liberated from the occupation have a significant share, and that global developments also trigger regional developments. For this reason, conflicts will not only have regional peace and tranquility but also global repercussions. As a matter of fact, the occurrence of such a conflict just before the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Heads of State Summit, which will take place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 15-16, is interpreted by the public as an effort to divert the attention of the USA and the European Union to a different direction due to Russia’s Ukraine war.
It is possible to say that global developments, especially the sanctions faced by Russia, along with the Russia-Ukraine war, triggered the developments in the South Caucasus. As a matter of fact, the realization of such a provocation outside a region where 2,000 Russian peacekeepers are on duty can be interpreted as a message that Russia wants to give to Europe and the USA via the South Caucasus. Another possibility is that if peace is fully established in the region, there will be no need for Russian peacekeepers here, and therefore a Russia, whose power and influence in the region will weaken, will strengthen its hand with such conflicts. Especially, the occurrence of such a conflict, right after the 2 million dollar aid package announced by the USA for Karabakh and the visit of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan with the EU representatives, strengthens this possibility.
As a result, the fact that the conflicts that flared up again between the two countries took place on the borders of the two countries rather than directly at a point where Russian peacekeepers were present raises many questions. There are still many unresolved issues in the region, especially the problems experienced in the process of giving the relevant maps to Azerbaijan for the removal of mines in the areas liberated from the occupation. For example, it should not be forgotten that only a small part of the mine maps that Armenia responded to the Armenian soldiers in the hands of Azerbaijan were correct, Yerevan’s uncompromising attitude towards the opening of the Zangezur corridor and many other unsolved problems also contributed to this point.
Therefore, the requirements of the agreement reached on November 10, 2020 should be fulfilled as soon as possible. The international community should also do its part in this regard, not only by calling for restraint, but also by taking the necessary steps when necessary, leading to the establishment of peace and tranquility in the region.
[Prof. Dr. Yıldız Deveci Bozkuş Ankara Üniversitesi Öğretim Üyesidir]
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