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2016, 10 Dekabr, şənbə, Bakı vaxtı 03:30

Richard Giragosian: Russian power and influence in the region has only deepened


Armenia -- Military scouts attend a performance to mark the annual anniversary of the Armenian Armed Forces reconnaissance troops formation, near Yerevan, November 5, 2013

Armenia -- Military scouts attend a performance to mark the annual anniversary of the Armenian Armed Forces reconnaissance troops formation, near Yerevan, November 5, 2013

RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service (Radio Azadliq) talked to Richard Giragosian, The Director of Yerevan based Regional Studies Center (RSC) about recent violence on Armenian-Azerbaijani fronline and the future of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.


Azadliq: How would you comment on recent clashes on the Armenian-Azerbaiani border. Both sides are blaming each other for the escalation of violence? This is happening just before the renewal of peace negotiations.What is going on?

R.G: Despite the degree of optimism and higher expectations after the November Vienna summit between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, any real hope for progress over the Nagorno Karabakh conflict was quickly replaced by another round of violence. A sudden escalation in tension, fresh ceasefire violations and fatal armed attacks came only days before the two countries’ foreign ministers were set to meet in Paris.

This recent renewal of hostilities is also especially serious, for several reasons. First, on January 19, an incursion by an Azerbaijani reconnaissance unit was followed by a sudden flare-up in ceasefire violations elsewhere, as other units sought to provoke an Armenian response prior to the diplomatic summit. And second, although the incident follows a familiar pattern of being timed with the diplomatic calendar, this wave of new violence represents a new demonstration of force by the Azerbaijani leadership and by Azerbaijan’s new defense minister.
Armenia -- Richard Giragosian, Director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies

Armenia -- Richard Giragosian, Director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies


Yet in a broader sense, the escalation of military hostilities is also driven by two significant factors: a pronounced sense of Azerbaijani frustration over the lack of any real progress from the Karabakh peace process, and due to this year’s 20th anniversary of the ceasefire agreement, adding political pressure on the Azerbaijani leadership to display a more robust show of force in the face of no progress over Nagorno Karabakh.

Azadliq: The presidents will meet soon and what do you think will they be discussing in the light of recent clashes? What do you think could push Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev to negotiate seriously?

R.G: The diplomatic process will continue, however, and the presidents will still likely meet in the coming month or so, as agreed in Vienna. In fact, the recent escalation in violence only makes such diplomacy more important. But it does also demonstrate that either side can use military force to effectively damage diplomacy and diminishes any hope for any tangible progress.

Azadliq: Any news on Armenian-Turkish "front"? Do you see any movements toward negotiations?

R.G: The diplomatic process will continue, however, and the presidents will still likely meet in the coming month or so, as agreed in Vienna. In fact, the recent escalation in violence only makes such diplomacy more important. But it does also demonstrate that either side can use military force to effectively damage diplomacy and diminishes any hope for any tangible progress.

Azadliq: How can Moscow influence the situation especially after Armenia decided to join the customs union.

R.G: In terms of the broader situation, Moscow clearly benefits form the status quo of unresolved conflict. And as the number one arms provider to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, it seems clear that Russian power and influence has only deepened. Moreover, Russian policy remains assertive and confrontational, aimed at “pushing back and pushing out” European engagement in the “near abroad,” making the Karabakh conflict a more useful tool for influence and Russian power projection.
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