Baku, Azerbaijan, March 14
By Fikret Dolukhanov – Trend:
Nagorno-Karabakh region is not a member-state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the organization will not render military support to Stepanakert (Khankendi), Anatoly Sidorov, Colonel-General, head of the CSTO Joint Staff, said during the Moscow-Yerevan-Astana-Bishkek-Minsk teleconference.
It seems that Sidorov said nothing new. It was clear to everyone from the very beginning that the CSTO will not enter into a probable armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region as this is Azerbaijan’s territory. By the way, not recognizing the "independence" of the separatist formation, Armenia itself confirms this despite the Armenian president’s recent congratulatory letter full of pathos to the separatists, and words of "freedom" and "independence".
However, Sidorov's comment is interesting from a different perspective.
First of all, the pro-Russian tendency of Armenia's foreign and domestic policy is not supported by everyone in the Armenian society. This is testified by the presence of an alliance of opposition parties with a rather symbolic and sonorous name "Yelk" on the country’s political arena.
It will be useful and interesting for those who are not so well acquainted with the peculiarities of Armenian political life, or rather, existence, to know that one of the leaders of the abovementioned alliance is Nikol Pashinyan. He is also the creator of Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper, which is one of the most popular newspapers in Armenia. The newspaper is not in favor of Russia or anything pro-Russian.
Another Armenian newspaper Lragir has a similar viewpoint. It is also one of the most popular media resources in the country. Thus, as for friendship with Russia, the Armenian society is not as unanimous as it may seem.
Nevertheless, the country's authorities have always linked the need to participate in all Moscow's projects beginning from the economic to the military ones, to protect themlseves against external threats. To use the image of the enemy - Turkey and Azerbaijan in this case is a trick which is more ancient than the Armenian statehood, however, Yerevan’s political elite could think of anything better.
The Armenians saw CSTO as an "instrument of protection" from "malicious Turks", while economic integration projects as a means to bypass isolation.
It turned out soon that economic projects can not help Armenia because Russia, which is the "driving force" for these projects, is experiencing difficulties and is incapable of "dragging" someone else's economy on its own and does not intend to do that. The period of USSR when everyone fed off several certain republics, is gone.
If we also mention the volatile processes within the Eurasian Economic Community, then the situation can be characterized by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s recent statement that "Eurasian Economic Community does not work as planned".
Moreover, now it seems that CSTO won't be helping Armenia, if anything happens on the "Eastern Front".
So why does Armenia need all these projects? Maybe, if we adjust the question a little, by changing "Armenia" to "Armenian authorities", the situation will be clearer.
The strange thing is that on one hand Yerevan recalls Russia's military assistance at the first opportunity, but on the other hand, it manages to criticize Moscow as, perhaps, even Athens did not criticize the European Union in the most crisis years.
Is it unscrupulousness or just a discrepancy between what this country and its authorities really need?
It seems to me that the condition of the dependent country is favorable to Armenia's current leadership as it allows maintaining personal power and even strengthening it through simple mechanisms of creating the image of an external enemy and intimidating the population, as it was already mentioned above.
Now, time for the second aspect of Sidorov's statement. At the moment of writing of this article, Azerbaijani Armed Forces were conducting large-scale exercises, which caused "verbal diarrhea" in Armenia’s certain circles. And this happens every time.
Each time Azerbaijan carries out military exercises, both Yerevan officials and those of Armenia's expert community talk about Armenia's response to "aggression", "preventive measures", and so on.
An interesting point is that Baku does not resort to military means to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, because "soft power" is much more efficient.
Despite denials, Armenia is afraid of the military scenario. That is why they endlessly list various options for "who will pressure on Baku" ,"who will support Yerevan", "how to use the Russian military base in Gyumri," etc.
Armenia's fervent desire to find support and mechanism of external pressure on Azerbaijan reveals despair and self-doubt reigning in the Armenian society. Similarly, children usually threaten to call for help in quarrels with someone stronger.
And all this is supported, heated and strengthened by the foreign policy of Baku. Armenia's isolation has led to the fact that Yerevan got confused and rushes from side to side. First it sees Moscow as an "older brother," then as "treacherous traitor" selling arms to Baku.
Armenian media first enthusiastically writes about the friendly visit of the Georgian Prime Minister, then they begin to ask questions about for what and against whom the military partnership between Tbilisi and Baku is directed? First, Israel is declared a "brother in grief", and then "enemy number one" - and again because of the arms sale to Baku.
Why does Yerevan constantly seek allies against Baku, and in the end feel "betrayed"?
After all, Baku has never appealed to Turkey or any other country for military assistance. Azerbaijan is confident in its abilities, and does not need anyone's support in the matter of a possible military solution to the conflict.
Moreover, Baku does not need loans for the purchase of military equipment, which, on the contrary, is relevant for Yerevan, because Azerbaijan is able not only to purchase all the necessary weapons, but manufactures weapons as well.
Baku also does not want to join any military alliance, including NATO. The Azerbaijani leadership has repeatedly stated that the country itself ensures its security and will not allow appearance of a military base of any third forces in the country. This became apparent during the closure of the Gabala Radar Station. This is also evidenced by NATO's recent denial of plans to open navy bases in the Caspian sea.
At a time when the Armenian authorities are increasingly tying the country to the external powers, Azerbaijan is becoming more independent and more clearly demonstrates the desire to play on equal terms with these powers.
And even friendship that Baku builds with such fraternal countries as Turkey, Georgia and Iran, is primarily based on healthy partnership in the framework of large-scale regional projects that attract more and more external players.
"Armenia's foreign policy is limited to current problems, which is skillfully used by Baku. The same is true for Armenian-Iranian relations that may have regional significance if Yerevan responds to the signals coming from Tehran. But, Yerevan's inadequate policy weakens Iran's interest in Armenia, especially since our neighbor, in fact, may soon be able to enter the European markets thanks to the Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia trilateral cooperation. And now Tehran integrates into the trilateral cooperation of Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan, which makes Armenia's isolation even more visible," said Armenian expert Sargis Artsruni, describing Armenia's current situation.
The very obsession with the enmity with Azerbaijan and Turkey, consideration of any issue of foreign and domestic policy through the prism of this confrontation, and painful perception of this situation have led to the fact that Yerevan's policy is becoming more and more inadequate, and the position - uncertain and shaky.
It got to the point that Baku promotes its interests even in Yerevan itself, as it was at a recent meeting of the TRACECA intergovernmental commission. The isolation of Armenia is expanding, which makes it particularly vulnerable.
This is exactly what Baku bets on. The "soft power" of its foreign policy leads to the fact that Armenia only talks about military confrontation, but in fact is not ready for it, and has long been losing on all fronts.
The sooner Yerevan realizes that it is time to show will and get rid of the "Karabakh burden", pulling the country down the bottom, the sooner Armenia's foreign and domestic policy will find balance and these endless attacks of hysteria will cease.
It is not that impossible - Armenia only needs to reach out and untie the "Karabakh knot".