Who benefits from another Armenian-Azerbaijani escalation
On May 12th, a skirmish took place between Azerbaijani and Armenian border guards near the border of Syunik Province and the Black Lake. According to the Armenian side, “at a pretext of specification of the borderline, Azerbaijani military advanced inside the Armenian territory, using fake cartographic materials.”
It is not the first controversial situation on the border, intensively discussed by the Armenian politicians and mass media. Armenia prepares for early parliamentary elections. It means any news is going to be politicized and attract public attention. After signing the November Statement on Karabakh, Syunik could be the first district of transport deblockade in the South Caucasus. Foretasting changes in the Armenian territory and border districts of Azerbaijan, participants of the election campaign use the situation in Syunik Province variously.
Supporters of the former president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan consider any mixed picture on the border as a good reason to stir up public unrest in Syunik Province and spread it throughout the Armenian territory. Kocharyan wants to show uselessness of the current leader Nikol Pashinyan regarding preservation of the republic’s sovereignty. At the same time, supporters of the former president try to prove Baku using “aggressive policy” and “striving for violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity.” Kocharyan needs validation of his revanchist narrative – his election program is based on spreading revanchist attitudes ostensibly due to a risk of taking away Armenia’s south.
Moreover, the Armenian authorities also benefit from various border incidents. Even though, Pashinyan promises people that Armenia’s sovereignty is not under threat, he is no stranger to tarnishing Baku. However, Acting Premier avoids answering a question on possibility of trespassing of militaries from neighboring countries to the Armenian territory. Pashinyan who’s got used to seeing enemies and plotters in everyone just has to say that border security is “a subject of a separate discussion” which “is going to take place.”
It seems Acting Premier tries to turn Moscow against Baku in the sphere of providing territorial integrity of Armenia and commitment of the November Statement. Russia provides security of Armenia but Pashinyan who doesn’t like Moscow too much tries to navigate in the public opinion space leaving it alone facing the Russian military presence.
The situation in southern Armenia will remain difficult before the early elections. Neither Kocharyan nor Pashinyan is able to slag each other endlessly. Thus, both of them try to convince voters that their vision of Armenia’s future is better. Kocharyan will rely on the topic of a foreign enemy, insisting on revanchist policy; Pashinyan will go on supporting the policy of limited cooperation and delegation of it to Armenia’s foreign partners. Who are these partners? Only time will tell.
Tonight, Acting Foreign Minister of Armenia Ara Ayvazyan has discussed the situation in Syunik Province and “usage of the CSTO instruments” with Secretary General of the CSTO Stanislav Zasem. It seems Yerevan is not desisting from its efforts to pull the CSTO in its games.