Yerevan /Mediamax/. Thomas de Waal, a senior analyst at the Carnegie Foundation, an expert on Caucasus issues, believes that "the most brutal and dangerous round of violence since 2020 aimed as much against Russia as against Armenia.”
“Russia is obliged to assist Armenia both thanks to a bilateral defense treaty and to their joint membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). But Russia is also of course almost flat on its back in Ukraine. Azerbaijan looks intent on proving both that Russia is slow to support its ally and that the CSTO is a paper tiger - as its failure to act over Tajikistan’s cross-border attacks in Kyrgyzstan also demonstrates,” de Waal writes in his More Storm Clouds Gather Over Armenia, Azerbaijan article.
“All this year, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been engaged in negotiations, mediated by Charles Michel, president of the European Council. The violence last week does not mean, as some commentators have asserted, that the talks were a sham or a waste of time. They had actually made a lot of progress. The two sides agreed the substance of a deal on transportation routes earlier in the summer before the Russians raised some complications, which halted everything. Over the summer they worked intensively on texts which square an interstate treaty (Azerbaijan’s demand) with provisions for the rights and security of the Karabakh Armenians (Armenia’s demand),” Thomas de Waal notes.
He says that the problem that has dogged all mediators in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict since 1991 is that no one pays a price for saying “no.” “Leaders feel they can renounce in public what they agreed to in private, play for time, or use force,” the analyst explains.
“Russia is still a mediator with powerful interests, even if it is not trusted as an honest broker. Moscow has also reportedly come up with a draft peace treaty, which indefinitely postpones the issue of the status of Karabakh - a formula that the Armenians like more than the European proposal.
For it to have any chance of success, the Charles Michel process - currently the only viable one - needs much stronger support, from the European Commission, EU member states, and the United States. If it peters out or fails, the two dismal alternatives are that mediation again defaults to Moscow, or, worse: that the two sides get ready to fight the next war,” Thomas de Waal concludes.
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