Certain statements prior to or during the Geneva negotiations.
1) The OSCE Minsk format, in essence, has lost its relevance. And this is not an Armenian statement but rather an Aliyev-Erdoğan one. Virtually in all their public speeches this “peaceful” unity openly accuses the mediator countries for their “inability” to solve the Karabakh conflict. In one of his recent speeches to the nation Aliyev went as far as to actually accuse the co-chair countries of connivance to Armenian interests, and called all the meetings under the umbrella of OSCE Minsk group during 28 years “meaningless”. Moreover, he threatened the co-chair countries that the “Azerbaijani nation will not forget” their deeds in favor of Armenia. I think that Armenia needs to support Aliyev in this statement and leave the Minsk process.
2) Because of the Minsk process Armenia and Azerbaijan have found themselves in unequal conditions: Turkey, a member country of the Minsk process, is an unquestioning ally for Azerbaijan while the status of the mediator deprives Russia, France and the US of declaring a possible alliance with Armenia. Even more so, many countries of civilized Europe, potential allies of Armenia, hoping and relying on the co-chairs, were dormant and were not particularly anxious regarding the process. The pitiless war that is destroying every ground for a civil solution changes the entire picture. Armenia will absolutely gain allies if the end of the Minsk format is secured.
3) The thesis of the co-chairs which has been repeated by the Armenian side multiple times that “the conflict has no military solution” has been completely destroyed by the war initiated by Aliyev. He says the exact opposite: “The conflict does have a military solution; and we show that it does.” and “the power factor is at the forefront in the world today”. In such a case the sole possibility for the co-chair countries (and not only Russia) not to make a fool of themselves and to stand their ground is the efforts to support the military equality in order to avoid imbalance in favor of Azerbaijan in the military equipment and modern technologies. And let Aliyev not be surprised “where poor Armenia takes so much armament from”. From where necessary. And there will be more. As much as necessary.
4) A worked out and seemingly repeatedly negotiated formula of regulation (5+2+not clear what) in the current conditions has lost any sense. And not in Aliyev’s interpretation of “we have already solved that problem ourselves and created a new reality”, but in the interpretation of Armenian mothers who have lost their heroic sons at war: “not an inch of the sacred Armenian land stained in the blood of our sons.” Hence the nonsense of discussing the problem in old terms today. New terms will occur only as a result of actions at the front and only when interpreted in the same way by each party to the conflict.
5) After 28 years of fruitless appeals to the international community in terms of the principles “the right to self-determination of nations” and “territorial integrity”, the Armenian side needs to acknowledge that the world is deaf to such an argument and self-determination occurs only if any nuclear (or simply tough enough) state acknowledges and protects the self-determined one (Kosovo, Crimea, Northern Cyprus). That is why Armenia needs to stop the game of two states and clearly declare that this is the war of Armenia and all Armenians and not only the nation of Nagorno-Karabakh to the needs, aspirations and even basic humanitarian rights the world was deaf during the entire period. In general, everyone needs to acknowledge the obvious: the regulation of the situation in the logic and terms of the post-Soviet reality is no longer possible.
6) The attempt of the Armenian Prime Minister (following the suggestions of the first president) to replace the concept and thesis of self-determination with the thesis “secession for salvation” as a suggested formula of regulation should be accepted as directly unsuccessful. These theses are directly opposing and again mix up the idea of the two states. Such a position has no perspective and only means a loss of time and resources. There is a pan-Armenian national-state interest: right to life for Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, in their homes, on their land, and that it can be realized exclusively outside Azerbaijan is an indisputable fact (thanks to the mustache union).
7) A military-strategic alliance with Russia and membership of Armenia in the Collective Security Treaty Organization need to be considered within the context of defense of the interests of Armenia and not only its borders. The most significant strategic interest for the state of Armenia – ever since the fall of the USSR and gaining independence – has been the fate of Artsakh. All the other interests of the state of Armenia turn to be nothing if we do not defend this fate, our fate and our nation. Our allies and partners need to be clearly aware of it.
8) Armenia and Armenians will have the power to stand for as long as necessary. This is a truly sacred war, and may Aliyev not find comfort in the thoughts of Armenia’s “poverty”. More so, the offensive power of their union is largely undermined with successful counterattacks and initiative-taking being the new reality now. The public opinion of the civilized world is increasingly on the side of Armenia and its just cause: the bravery and resilience of the Armenian soldiers have not gone unnoticed in the world; the Armenian soldier has made the world respect the Armenian position. There are two other factors as well which hugely reinforce these positions: Azerbaijan unleashing a war during the global pandemic of coronavirus, this “Feast in Time of Plague” which Aliyev obviously enjoys, and the recruiting of Islamic jihadists mediated by Turkey. These factors, together with the heroism of Armenian boys, are the recipe of the ultimate victory. The victory of United Armenia.
Armen Darbinyan, is the Rector of Russian-Armenian University and Former Prime Minister of Armenia (1998-1999).
These views are his own.