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A Wolf in a Lamb's Skin. Washington is Interested in Putting Baku in a Position of Dependence on Yerevan

3 July 2024

As he received the credentials of the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada, Kevin Hamilton, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev remarked on progress in the negotiation process. 

«I believe we can finalize the text of the peace agreement, or at least basic principles, within several months. I must note that during the period of occupation, the mediators plan was to agree on the basic principles, the so-called Madrid Principles, that should have been initialed with the text to be drafted later. We believe that could also be an option agree on the basic principles, initial them, and then draft the text», the head of state said, noting also that it would happen if Armenia amended its constitution.

Igor Korotchenko, General Director of the Caspian Institute of Strategic Studies, shared his view on the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process in an interview with the Bakinskiy Rabochiy newspaper.

According to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken,  the Washington administration now sees a unique opportunity for Azerbaijan and Armenia to reach peace agreements. What is hidden behind these words? Are the Americans genuinely interested in achieving peace between Baku and Yerevan?

It should be noted first of all that a major part of work that closed the distance between the conflicting parties positions was due in great part to Bakus persistence and diplomatic excellence. And the US attitude here was absolutely hostile and hypocritical, biased in favor of Yerevans standpoint. It was the Foreign Ministry of Armenia whom US embassy staff in Yerevan briefed in advance on Washingtons bargaining position, a day before high-ranking US officials visited the region. In this regard, furthering Armenias interests and solidarity with them constituted the essence of Washingtons official position which was disguised under all kinds of demagogic statements.

Now that the process is underway, the USA wants more than to just to jump onto a leaving train. It wants to be the driver as the train travels towards a signed Azerbaijani-Armenian peace treaty. The Americans only pursue their own national interests, seeking primarily to enlarge their footprint and seize control of transport communications in the region in order to effectively suffocate the economies of the enemy countries Iran, Russia, and, to a certain extent, Türkiye.

So the US attitude is that of a friendly, smiling lamb with bared wolf teeth hiding under its skin. Accordingly, all statements made by State Department officials and the Secretary of State himself are nothing more than attempts to justify and ensure US presence in the region on the key tracks of the negotiation process when it is near completion, in order to direct the process at its final stage and set priorities in the final version of the peace treaty, so as to serve the US national interests, rather than the interests of the negotiating parties. 

Meanwhile, James C. O'Brien, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, speaking at a briefing in Baku on the piece process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, emphasized economic relations between countries, in particular the transportation of goods from Central Asia through Azerbaijan, and then via Georgia and Armenia to global markets. Why are the Americans advocating so much for cargo transit through Armenia, while there is a route through Georgia that has been operating for years?

I believe it is an attempt to implement the «Crossroads of Peace» concept proposed by Pashinyan, which means Yerevans de facto refusal to comply with paragraph 9 of the Tripartite Statement of November 10, 2020 which references the Zangezur Corridor and its extraterritorial status. Essentially we are dealing with insidious revision by Armenia of its commitments. It is obvious that the United States will provide maximum assistance to Yerevan in this respect.

Under the pressure from the United States, transit routes crossing the Armenian territory will be de facto imposed on the regional countries. It is clear, however, that Pashinyan and his team will use the dependence of those countries, including Azerbaijan, that could take advantage of the transit route via Armenia, for political and economic blackmail, pressure and provocations.

Armenia is a country that can easily disavow previous agreements and put forward new, unacceptable conditions. That is to say, the position of O'Brien and Washington is to force Baku into dependence on Yerevan in matters of transport and logistics, which poses a real threat to Azerbaijans national security.

However, Armenia procrastinated with the execution of its obligations to open the Zangezur corridor, and Azerbaijan has an arrangement for an alternative corridor via Iran. It means that Baku has already resolved the problem being aware that Yerevan is unwilling to address it. And now the Americans are pressing the Azerbaijani side to give up the Iranian corridor and channel its cargo traffic via Armenia, thus becoming vulnerable to external pressure and manipulation by the global Armenian lobby and the Pashinyan regime.

Considering that there are dozens of Armenian lobbyists acting at the State Department with or without official registration, we understand perfectly that the US proposals and those initiatives that were put forward by O'Brien during his Baku visit manifested the position of promoting Armenias «Crossroads of Peace» proposals for South Caucasus transport and logistics arrangements, which in fact do not benefit Azerbaijan and other countries of the region.

In these circumstances, by controlling Yerevan, the United States will also control those countries that will use the opportunity to export, import and transit goods through the Armenian territory. But Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Türkiye clearly understand that the US proposals are damaging to their national interests, and thus cannot be accepted.

Although top Armenian officials periodically voice their willingness to promptly sign a peace treaty, they at the same time make revanchist statements. This concerns, in particular the recent statement by the Armenian Secretary of the Security Council to the effect that Russia allegedly handed over Karabakh to Azerbaijan. How can this behavior of Yerevan be explained?

It is worth mentioning that, according to information available to security agencies of a number of countries, Armen Grigoryan, the current Secretary of The Security Council of Armenia, is a mouthpiece of the CIA and works in close coordination with Langley when taking any decisions whatever Grigoryan says, is said by the CIA. It means that he would not risk making such a statement without consent of his supervisors across the ocean.

As for Yerevans position, it is variable and double-faced. In particular, Pashinyan now effectively renounces the prospects of a referendum on the amendment of that part of the Armenian Constitution which references documents with territorial claims against Azerbaijan. If Pashinyan is really willing to make a quick progress on the peace talks track but is unable to hold such a referendum right now for internal politics reasons, he then has a very simple solution. The ruling Civil Contract party has a constitutional majority in the parliament, enabling it to pass legislation disavowing the 1990 Declaration of Independence of Armenia that mentions the Karabakh district as a territory claimed by Yerevan. 

In a recent statement, President Ilham Aliyev has accepted the option of initialing the main principles first and drafting the text of a peace treaty afterwards. How efficient do you find this separation of effort towards a peace treaty?

This is a reasonable and correct approach on the part of the official Baku. It is important to formalize the basic points of agreement on the direct communication track during the negotiation process, formalize the agreed set of principles as an official document so that Yerevan would not be able to step back or somehow amend its position on those points of the peace treaty negotiation process that have been already achieved, agreed upon and verified. 

For this reason I regard President Ilham Aliyevs approach to this process as well-timed, carefully weighted and appropriate. Ilham Aliyev is a sophisticated diplomat and politician. He knows perfectly how a negotiation process is to be conducted from the perspective of impeccable legal design and implementation. So the initialing of previously agreed key principles would greatly facilitate progress towards a peace treaty and would serve as a proof that all the previous work was not in vain. And what is more, without the involvement of any Western mediators. The United States had nothing to do with it, always standing in the way and taking destructive steps even now.

Suffice to mention the latest much-speculated document in which US NGOs, led by the notorious Freedom House and with active involvement of Armenian lobbyists, trump up absolutely false and mean accusations against Azerbaijan. It was all perfectly synchronized with O'Briens visit to Baku, and by no means a coincidence.

This is a well-targeted and coordinated arms-twisting policy through which the official Washington attempts to put pressure on the official Baku and obtain the desired results.

I have no doubt that this US policy is doomed to failure because Azerbaijan is a sovereign and self-reliant state that pursues a very balanced policy. Baku has no enemies because it builds relationships based on respect, equality and pragmatism with all parties in the global political process. For this reason, this detrimental activity of the United States, with a threat of sanctions, prompts Azerbaijani diplomats to act surgically, after careful consideration, and think through alternative scenarios in order to implement the basic principles which enabled Azerbaijan to restore its territorial integrity.

On the other hand, the exodus of Armenian population from the Karabakh region, repeatedly and up to now blamed on Baku, was their optional choice made without any pressure or coercion from the Azerbaijani side. Azerbaijan has reiterated its readiness to reintegrate the Armenian population of the Karabakh region into its political and legal space, and guarantee to the people all the basic rights enjoyed by its citizens under the RA Constitution. Armenians, however, left the territory of Azerbaijan of their free will, thereby following the destiny of their own choice. Now the West, the United States and EU member countries are trying to speculate on this issue and pull Baku into negotiations by way of pressure and threats to invoke sanctions. That will not work. Washington, Brussels and Paris will not achieve their goals, their attempts are doomed to failure.

A Wolf in a Lamb's Skin. Bakinskiy Rabochiy, 03.07.2024. https://br.az/politics/73079/volk-v-ovechey-shkure/

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A Wolf in a Lamb's Skin. Washington is Interested in Putting Baku in a Position of Dependence on Yerevan

3 July 2024

As he received the credentials of the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada, Kevin Hamilton, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev remarked on progress in the negotiation process. 

«I believe we can finalize the text of the peace agreement, or at least basic principles, within several months. I must note that during the period of occupation, the mediators plan was to agree on the basic principles, the so-called Madrid Principles, that should have been initialed with the text to be drafted later. We believe that could also be an option agree on the basic principles, initial them, and then draft the text», the head of state said, noting also that it would happen if Armenia amended its constitution.

Igor Korotchenko, General Director of the Caspian Institute of Strategic Studies, shared his view on the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process in an interview with the Bakinskiy Rabochiy newspaper.

According to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken,  the Washington administration now sees a unique opportunity for Azerbaijan and Armenia to reach peace agreements. What is hidden behind these words? Are the Americans genuinely interested in achieving peace between Baku and Yerevan?

It should be noted first of all that a major part of work that closed the distance between the conflicting parties positions was due in great part to Bakus persistence and diplomatic excellence. And the US attitude here was absolutely hostile and hypocritical, biased in favor of Yerevans standpoint. It was the Foreign Ministry of Armenia whom US embassy staff in Yerevan briefed in advance on Washingtons bargaining position, a day before high-ranking US officials visited the region. In this regard, furthering Armenias interests and solidarity with them constituted the essence of Washingtons official position which was disguised under all kinds of demagogic statements.

Now that the process is underway, the USA wants more than to just to jump onto a leaving train. It wants to be the driver as the train travels towards a signed Azerbaijani-Armenian peace treaty. The Americans only pursue their own national interests, seeking primarily to enlarge their footprint and seize control of transport communications in the region in order to effectively suffocate the economies of the enemy countries Iran, Russia, and, to a certain extent, Türkiye.

So the US attitude is that of a friendly, smiling lamb with bared wolf teeth hiding under its skin. Accordingly, all statements made by State Department officials and the Secretary of State himself are nothing more than attempts to justify and ensure US presence in the region on the key tracks of the negotiation process when it is near completion, in order to direct the process at its final stage and set priorities in the final version of the peace treaty, so as to serve the US national interests, rather than the interests of the negotiating parties. 

Meanwhile, James C. O'Brien, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, speaking at a briefing in Baku on the piece process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, emphasized economic relations between countries, in particular the transportation of goods from Central Asia through Azerbaijan, and then via Georgia and Armenia to global markets. Why are the Americans advocating so much for cargo transit through Armenia, while there is a route through Georgia that has been operating for years?

I believe it is an attempt to implement the «Crossroads of Peace» concept proposed by Pashinyan, which means Yerevans de facto refusal to comply with paragraph 9 of the Tripartite Statement of November 10, 2020 which references the Zangezur Corridor and its extraterritorial status. Essentially we are dealing with insidious revision by Armenia of its commitments. It is obvious that the United States will provide maximum assistance to Yerevan in this respect.

Under the pressure from the United States, transit routes crossing the Armenian territory will be de facto imposed on the regional countries. It is clear, however, that Pashinyan and his team will use the dependence of those countries, including Azerbaijan, that could take advantage of the transit route via Armenia, for political and economic blackmail, pressure and provocations.

Armenia is a country that can easily disavow previous agreements and put forward new, unacceptable conditions. That is to say, the position of O'Brien and Washington is to force Baku into dependence on Yerevan in matters of transport and logistics, which poses a real threat to Azerbaijans national security.

However, Armenia procrastinated with the execution of its obligations to open the Zangezur corridor, and Azerbaijan has an arrangement for an alternative corridor via Iran. It means that Baku has already resolved the problem being aware that Yerevan is unwilling to address it. And now the Americans are pressing the Azerbaijani side to give up the Iranian corridor and channel its cargo traffic via Armenia, thus becoming vulnerable to external pressure and manipulation by the global Armenian lobby and the Pashinyan regime.

Considering that there are dozens of Armenian lobbyists acting at the State Department with or without official registration, we understand perfectly that the US proposals and those initiatives that were put forward by O'Brien during his Baku visit manifested the position of promoting Armenias «Crossroads of Peace» proposals for South Caucasus transport and logistics arrangements, which in fact do not benefit Azerbaijan and other countries of the region.

In these circumstances, by controlling Yerevan, the United States will also control those countries that will use the opportunity to export, import and transit goods through the Armenian territory. But Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia and Türkiye clearly understand that the US proposals are damaging to their national interests, and thus cannot be accepted.

Although top Armenian officials periodically voice their willingness to promptly sign a peace treaty, they at the same time make revanchist statements. This concerns, in particular the recent statement by the Armenian Secretary of the Security Council to the effect that Russia allegedly handed over Karabakh to Azerbaijan. How can this behavior of Yerevan be explained?

It is worth mentioning that, according to information available to security agencies of a number of countries, Armen Grigoryan, the current Secretary of The Security Council of Armenia, is a mouthpiece of the CIA and works in close coordination with Langley when taking any decisions whatever Grigoryan says, is said by the CIA. It means that he would not risk making such a statement without consent of his supervisors across the ocean.

As for Yerevans position, it is variable and double-faced. In particular, Pashinyan now effectively renounces the prospects of a referendum on the amendment of that part of the Armenian Constitution which references documents with territorial claims against Azerbaijan. If Pashinyan is really willing to make a quick progress on the peace talks track but is unable to hold such a referendum right now for internal politics reasons, he then has a very simple solution. The ruling Civil Contract party has a constitutional majority in the parliament, enabling it to pass legislation disavowing the 1990 Declaration of Independence of Armenia that mentions the Karabakh district as a territory claimed by Yerevan. 

In a recent statement, President Ilham Aliyev has accepted the option of initialing the main principles first and drafting the text of a peace treaty afterwards. How efficient do you find this separation of effort towards a peace treaty?

This is a reasonable and correct approach on the part of the official Baku. It is important to formalize the basic points of agreement on the direct communication track during the negotiation process, formalize the agreed set of principles as an official document so that Yerevan would not be able to step back or somehow amend its position on those points of the peace treaty negotiation process that have been already achieved, agreed upon and verified. 

For this reason I regard President Ilham Aliyevs approach to this process as well-timed, carefully weighted and appropriate. Ilham Aliyev is a sophisticated diplomat and politician. He knows perfectly how a negotiation process is to be conducted from the perspective of impeccable legal design and implementation. So the initialing of previously agreed key principles would greatly facilitate progress towards a peace treaty and would serve as a proof that all the previous work was not in vain. And what is more, without the involvement of any Western mediators. The United States had nothing to do with it, always standing in the way and taking destructive steps even now.

Suffice to mention the latest much-speculated document in which US NGOs, led by the notorious Freedom House and with active involvement of Armenian lobbyists, trump up absolutely false and mean accusations against Azerbaijan. It was all perfectly synchronized with O'Briens visit to Baku, and by no means a coincidence.

This is a well-targeted and coordinated arms-twisting policy through which the official Washington attempts to put pressure on the official Baku and obtain the desired results.

I have no doubt that this US policy is doomed to failure because Azerbaijan is a sovereign and self-reliant state that pursues a very balanced policy. Baku has no enemies because it builds relationships based on respect, equality and pragmatism with all parties in the global political process. For this reason, this detrimental activity of the United States, with a threat of sanctions, prompts Azerbaijani diplomats to act surgically, after careful consideration, and think through alternative scenarios in order to implement the basic principles which enabled Azerbaijan to restore its territorial integrity.

On the other hand, the exodus of Armenian population from the Karabakh region, repeatedly and up to now blamed on Baku, was their optional choice made without any pressure or coercion from the Azerbaijani side. Azerbaijan has reiterated its readiness to reintegrate the Armenian population of the Karabakh region into its political and legal space, and guarantee to the people all the basic rights enjoyed by its citizens under the RA Constitution. Armenians, however, left the territory of Azerbaijan of their free will, thereby following the destiny of their own choice. Now the West, the United States and EU member countries are trying to speculate on this issue and pull Baku into negotiations by way of pressure and threats to invoke sanctions. That will not work. Washington, Brussels and Paris will not achieve their goals, their attempts are doomed to failure.

A Wolf in a Lamb's Skin. Bakinskiy Rabochiy, 03.07.2024. https://br.az/politics/73079/volk-v-ovechey-shkure/