Pashinyan is ready to recognize Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan: What next

The online press conference of Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan, December 24, 2021

During his December 24, 2021 press conference, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made several statements and assertions on the current situation in Nagorno Karabakh and his vision for its future. He rejected the idea to demand the withdrawal of Azerbaijani forces from any territories, which they captured during the 2020 Karabakh war, including the territories of the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (the entire Hadrut region, several villages of the Martakert, Martuni and Askeran regions and Shushi city). According to Pashinyan, the Azerbaijani population which lived in the former NKAO (according to the 1989 Soviet Union census, Azerbaijanis made up 22.4 percent of the NKAO population, while the number of Armenians was 76.4 percent) had the right to return, and the capture of Hadrut region, Shushi and other territories created the possibility for the realization of that right. This narrative puts Armenians currently living in Nagorno Karabakh in a perilous situation, as the de facto new line of contact fixed by the November 10, 2020 trilateral statement established a tiny entity which is not viable neither politically nor economically. However, according to Pashinyan, Armenia will not demand independence even for that small entity of approximately 3,000 square kilometers. The prime minister stated that Nagorno Karabakh lost all chances not to be part of Azerbaijan back in 2016. So, if there were no such chances when the territory of the unrecognized Nagorno Karabakh Republic was 11450 square kilometers, there definitely could be no chances now. The prime minister stated that his vision is to see Armenians living in Karabakh safely and securely, which means that Armenia is ready to move forward and sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan if Baku provides some guarantees for the security of Armenians. Theoretically, it could be a written guarantee put in the peace treaty with no status, or it could be some status of cultural autonomy for Nagorno Karabakh within the November 10, 2020 statement borders, providing Armenians the opportunity to study the Armenian language in Azerbaijani schools or have several hours of daily Armenian language broadcasts on Stepanakert radio.

Nevertheless, this will mean only one thing in real life: no Armenians in Artsakh. Everyone who has at least a basic knowledge of the history and current stage of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict understands very well one thing – if Azerbaijani troops, officials and population enter Stepanakert, Martakert, Askeran and Martuni, it will very quickly, within days if not hours, force Armenians to leave or be killed. The current situation in the Shushi and Hadrut region, where you will find zero Armenians 14 months after the end of the 2020 Karabakh war, is vivid, albeit not the only, evidence confirming this reality.

Thus, during his press conference, Pashinyan sent an indirect message to the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh to use the remaining few years of the Russian presence to prepare their safe landing out of Nagorno Karabakh, either in Armenia or anywhere else. Otherwise, if either in 2025 or 2030 they face a situation similar to what the Armenian population of Shushi, Hadrut, Karvachar or Berdzor faced in November 2020, they should blame themselves and not the government of Armenia. If nothing changes, many Armenians will heed this advice, while simultaneously Azerbaijan will relocate the Azerbaijani population in the territories of the former NKAO currently under its control. Very soon, within a maximum of 10 years and within the borders of the former NKAO, Azerbaijanis will become a majority, thus significantly changing the region’s demographics compared with 1989. It will make the deployment of the Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabakh senseless. With the withdrawal of the Russian troops (which may happen in 2030 or later), remaining Armenians will leave, and Artsakh will be transformed into another Nakhichevan with zero Armenian population.   

Meanwhile, the position of the Armenian government makes the continuation of the work of the OSCE Minsk Group senseless. The cornerstone of the activities of the Minsk Group was the issue of the status of Nagorno Karabakh. Suppose Armenia says that Karabakh has zero chance not to be part of Azerbaijan, and the only issue is the security guarantees of Armenian nationals living in Karabakh and holding Azerbaijani passports. In that case, this is not the problem for the three permanent members of the UN Security Council. They are not going to negotiate the number of hours of Armenian language classes in Azerbaijani schools in Karabakh or the possibility to have Armenian language broadcasts on Stepanakert radio.

There are several explanations why the Armenian government pursues this policy. One is based on geopolitics. According to this narrative, Armenia and Azerbaijan, under the auspices of the US, agreed to implement a policy to eventually push out Russian troops from Nagorno Karabakh by decreasing the number of Armenians living there and making the deployment of peacekeepers senseless. It could be a part of the US policy of containment aiming to decrease the influence and positions of Russia in the post-Soviet space, in this particular case in Azerbaijan. While in exchange for support of this policy, the US will turn a blind eye to authoritarian trends in Armenia, which became more clear after the local elections in late 2021 and will continue to provide funding to the Armenian government through USAID, World Bank and IMF and will push the European Union to provide loans via EBRD and EIB. In this scenario, the current Armenian government may secure its position for another decade, either by winning the 2026 parliamentary elections or changing the constitution in 2022, bringing Armenia back to the semi-presidential system of government and winning presidential elections of 2023 and possibly of 2028. 

Another explanation is more straightforward and more prosaic. The current government wants to enjoy the benefits of being in power – state-funded luxury cars, state-funded business trips, state-funded homes, plus the possibility to be part of lucrative business deals – without problems and complications. The existence of the Artsakh problem may prevent them from enjoying that power. That is why the best solution is to forget about Artsakh and eventually make Artsakh another chapter of Armenia’s tragic history.

Are there any possibilities to prevent the realization of this scenario? A significant part of Armenian society – due to the lack of reliable sociological surveys (it is impossible to say they comprise 30 percent, 50 percent or 70 percent of the population) – is indifferent to these developments. Due to the global rise of the consumer society as well as targeted propaganda in the Armenian media for the last 25 to30 years, the ultimate goal of life of this part of the society is to drive 10-year-old BMWs or Mercedes instead of 20-year-old Opels and to spend their holidays not in Kobuleti (Georgia) or Hurghada but in Cyprus or Greece. Their attitude will be either indifference or, if they feel that at the end of the day this scenario may bring additional money to Armenia and personally to them – American money, European money, Turkish money or Azerbaijani money, they may support this vision.

Meanwhile, there is another part of Armenian society, and also quite significant, which is ready to take actions and even sacrifices to prevent the loss of Artsakh. However, this part needs leaders who are ready to organize. In this context, the ultimate responsibility lies on the shoulders of individuals who have relevant capacities and capabilities to rally this part of Armenians around them. People like Nubar Afeyan, Ruben Vardanyan and others can play a role here. They have the experience to launch different pan-Armenian initiatives – The Future Armenian, Armenia 2041, FAST and IDEA foundations. However, the goals of these initiatives are relatively vague and lack the simplicity to involve significant numbers of people. The first step towards the prevention of the loss of Artsakh could be the establishment of the “Save Artsakh” fund with a straightforward goal – to have at least 30 percent more Armenians living in Artsakh in 2027 than now and at least 50 percent more Armenians living in Artsakh in 2030 than now. This simple and clear goal will unite significant numbers of Armenians both in Armenia and the Diaspora, including the middle class. One of the options to increase the population of Artsakh could be the offer of a financial bonus for every Armenian who would like to relocate to Artsakh to do the work which he is doing now in Armenia or abroad. The development of IT technologies has created a situation where many people work remotely from their homes, and there is no significant difference if you have access to the internet in Yerevan, Moscow, Paris, Los Angeles or Stepanakert. The fund may sign contracts with participants offering them a financial bonus in the form of paying them an additional salary if they agree to go to Artsakh and work from there remotely, or do the offline jobs, such as teaching, construction, etc., for a fixed amount of time starting perhaps from three months and reaching a year or even longer. The “Save Artsakh” fund could also pay the rent for these persons while they live in Artsakh. 

This is only one option, and definitely, there could be others to boost population growth in Artsakh. If Artsakh has at least 50 percent more Armenians in 2030 than now, it will ruin the Azerbaijani strategy to change the demographic situation and eventually transform Artsakh into another Nakhichevan. Russian troops will probably be deployed in Artsakh at least until 2030, so the basic security of Armenians living there will be guaranteed. Meanwhile, if the Armenian population increases, it will provide a solid base for Russia to keep its troops in Artsakh after 2030. The upcoming green economy revolution and the relative decrease of the role of oil and gas after 2035 may create problems and trigger instability in Azerbaijan, thus forcing Baku to shift its focus on the domestic situation and probably abandon its plans of destroying Artsakh. 

Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan
Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is the founder and chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies. He was the former vice president for research – head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense Research University in Armenia. In March 2009, he joined the Institute for National Strategic Studies as a research Fellow and was appointed as INSS Deputy Director for research in November 2010. Dr. Poghosyan has prepared and managed the elaboration of more than 100 policy papers which were presented to the political-military leadership of Armenia, including the president, the prime minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Poghosyan has participated in more than 50 international conferences and workshops on regional and international security dynamics. His research focuses on the geopolitics of the South Caucasus and the Middle East, US – Russian relations and their implications for the region, as well as the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. He is the author of more than 200 academic papers and articles in different leading Armenian and international journals. In 2013, Dr. Poghosyan was a Distinguished Research Fellow at the US National Defense University College of International Security Affairs. He is a graduate from the US State Department Study of the US Institutes for Scholars 2012 Program on US National Security Policy Making. He holds a PhD in history and is a graduate from the 2006 Tavitian Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

16 Comments

  1. Unbelievable. This filthy scum Pashinyan should be executed for cowardice and treason. And what will happen if this ridiculous concession to Aliyev is allowed, Syunik will be next, then one more big push and Armenia will be gone forever.As a human being this piece of excrement is totally worthless.

  2. Thanks Benyamin, Well written and passionate article.
    I was shocked when this government re-elected after that debacle. Though, we are where we are. It is much harder to retake what you have lost, than protecting it in the first place. Hence, such a concession should be avoided, even such a rumour should be condemned (As you did). Patriotism is honourable, but it needs to be supported and backed with deterrence. People (You and me, …) can act as catalyst and demand the governors to act responsibly and seek support from all available sources to protect the security and sovereignty of a small country with ~2.9 M population. As you mentioned, Russia can be of assistance. Russians try to be seen as neutral, and they pursuit their interests. Same can be said about Iran. Although it has its own challenges to deal with, but it is time for President of Armenia not the Prime minister (as he lost/ presumed that he lost his credibility due to loosing Armenian territory) to step-up and pay visit to the southern neighbour’s counterpart and facilitate construction of 50+ Km of alternative road, establishment of a security base, protection of borders, supply, and logistics, etc. There are shared interests which needs to be exploited in-full, and time is of the essence. Despite, argument about religion, etc. Armenia and Armenians are dear to Iran and Iranians, and there is no doubt who is the aggressor (examples; Iran Iraq 1980-1988, Iran and Ottoman during Safavid era, did the aggressor manage to take a square inch? NO), Aggression will be responded by your neighbour, provided that your neighbour has a mandate (e.g. defence treaty, defence base supporting mutual assets, e.g., roads, borders, etc.). Weakness of a neighbour at any point of time, does not provide entitlement for annexation of the land. otherwise, defined borders by imperial powers could have been shifted several time in past 20 years to east, west and north.

    • Take your medication. You don’t speak for Iranians. Iran is going to attack Turkey and Azerbaycan for Armenia? Your mad. Iran only cares about having a land bridge to Lebanon. You never respond to any comments from anyone so I do not expect an answer back from you this time around. Stay in your bubble.

      Even Russia didn’t do anything and Russia is Turkey’s mortal enemy.
      Majority of the Turkey – Iran borders were drawn during the 17th century. Nothing has been in dispute ever since. Why would Iran attack Turkey?

  3. Anyone that wanted to get rid of the “Russian backed oligarchs” and supported this Western and Turkish financed traitor in 2018 has no right to complain today. Karma is you know what. Be careful of what you wish for. God bless democracy, westernization, progress, people power and the American way…

  4. Stated simply – the human rights of the indigenous people of Artsakh are not being supported by the current government of Armenia. Either Pashinyan does not care about the Armenians in Artsakh or he and his cronies have been paid off to surrender. There is no middle ground.

  5. Thank you Benjamain
    Your analysis is entirely correct but there is one more thing that has not been calculated, which is the assassination of the traitors not by the Tashnagtsoutyoun but by people who are passionate about eradicating these pests. This will also include assassination of ambassadors. Unfortunately, the days of peaceful transition are over and as a diaspora after siphoning 100 billion dollars of OUR money as you stated they are interested in buying their BMW, their LEXUS and their prostitutes and the list goes on. This will end and it HAS to end. Nothing will resurrect our nation unless a good bloodbath that includes the current and previous junta. This mess is not just the making of the current idiot but dates back 30 years in the making. So as a simple message, please stop helping the regime and help the wounded directly. No more telethons and no more donations for hayastan all armenian fund. Enough is enough. Hope this resonates with the pacifist armenians worldwide and they start waking up.

    • If this is actually the way you think you’re either very young or an idiot. We had this same action brought true by a Dashnak in 1999 and it was a disaster. Use common sense and logic rather than whatever radical nationalism you have been taught or are reading online.

      Also it seems people don’t have reading or listening comprehension with these Dec 24 comments. Pashinyan was stating where the negotiations were at and the terms that had been imposed since 2016, which was that Artsakh was only going to be able to exist within Azerbaijan. This was a term that he was attempting to change which was obviously a failure. Please use critical thinking when reviewing the events of the last 25 years and who is responsible for what.

  6. Overall excellent article, except for the part about Nubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan. The two are nothing but cogs in the Globalist empire. Globalism and Westernization brought Armenia to this low point in history.

  7. As an American citizen it pains me to say this but frankly Armenia and Artsakh would be better off as a province in Russia akin to Quebec in Canada. Have strong laws to preserve language and culture but be under the FULL protection of Russia. Otherwise the Turks and Azeris will keep on coming and within 60 years there will be no Artsakh OR Armenia left.
    Let’s face it. In the paradigm of the US State Department Israel is to be protected at all costs. Azerbaijan provides 40% of Israeli oil imports while also providing a parking area for Israel’s F15’s for a quick strike on Iran. So Azerbaijan gets a free pass to carry on an ethnic cleansing campaign. Face it, the United States is not Armenia’s friend and if anything it is Armenia’s enemy.

  8. I don’t know why people are sounding surprised at pashinyan abandoning Artakh. It has been his plan all along, since way before 2018. For the last 20 years he has been spewing this pro-azeri “anti-kharabagh” sentiment together with his wife in his NED sponsored newspaper and finally reached his dream. It is a continuation of Levon Ter Petrosyan and Jurayr Libaridian’s ideology of the 90’s. The sad thing is that despite this, the Armenian people enthusiastically embraced him both in the homeland and the diaspora. Furthermore they voted for him again in June 2021. This is a bigger red flag to me than what nikol says or does and clearly illustrates that democracy assumes a level of political literacy which our people just don’t have. For us, democracy is a poison that has been weaponized and used against us.

  9. It’s just awful. Pashinyan just gives in, gives land and appeases a predatory and fanatically Armenophobic Azerbaijan, and eventually Turkey, with the “encouragement” (pressure) by the “ally” Russia. He gave up Artsakh, which in four years time could well be completely ethnically cleansed of its native Armenian inhabitants and all Armenian heritage completely destroyed by the Azeris, once the five year “peacekeeping” mission of Russia ends. The Azeris already destroyed numerous Armenian churches, cemeteries and other artifacts under their control, which should have been a wake up call, after Pashinyan signed that shameful capitulation. The destruction of Armenian heritage in Artsakh did not even elicit condemnation by the “international community” or even make the international news. No one should be surprised if he gives up even land of the Republic of Armenia to the two Turkic archenemies, so they can have their corridor for their pan-Turkist Greater Azerbaijan/Neo-Ottoman empire. If history, especially Armenia’s tragic history taught us anything, one cannot appease a predatory power for a “peace with honor”, and expect it to honor it and become tame. And still the people continue to vote for this traitor. I don’t know of any other country, where a traitor would be kept in office. It’s just incomprehensible and mind-boggling.

  10. The best possible scenario for Armenia is to join in some form of federalism with Russia 🇷🇺, similar to Belarus. This scenario will allow both Armenia and Artsakh to keep their land and independence. Under such an arrangement, Russia will provide security guarantees to Armenia and Artsakh. We will not lose our children to war. In addition, we will prosper and stop outMigration. Let’s not forget, before independence, in 1991, the population of Armenia was 3.8 million. Today’s Armenia is not more than 2.3 million. 1.5 million Armenians have left their country. How is this possible in nation building dreams we might have ? Besides, during Soviet Armenia, we had a vibrant educational system, culture, music, literature and preserved our language, history and heritage. Most Armenias who live in Armenia say they were much better offduring the Soviet era then than at present. Think about it. What I say is not so bad, after all.

    • LOL – you have got to be joking. I hope?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -cut Armenia up and gave parts to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Favored Azerbaijan over Armenia for a century despite exploiting Armenia?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Stopped Artsakh from winning the war in 1994?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Started arming Azerbaijan after 1994 while telling Armenia “only peace”?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Forced Armenia to join it’s poverty club while FAVORING AZERI-TURK POLICY?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Forced Armenia to reduce Iran gas import and sell the pipes to Russia?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Makes Armenia pay its expenses to protect Russian interests in Gyumri?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Ordered Armenia to release a mass-murdering Russian soldier to send home?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Sat back and watched ISIS terrorists sent by Turkey to Artsakh?

      Are you talking about the same Russia that:
      -Does nothing while Azerbaijan invades Armenia now despite (phony) “treaties”?

      You see, as a diaspora Armenian you have fallen victim to the classic Russian psy-op, which also involves it’s ‘Armenian’ poodles that spread unpatriotic propaganda about how “we need Russia and we may not criticize Mother Russia under any circumstances”, and that “this is what happens when a nation betrays Russia”.

      If “criticism” on Russia had any effect on Russian Policy, Azerbaijan would have been removed from existence 20 years ago. But of course, these propaganda conditions are always applied to Armenia, not other nations.

      As to your “Most Armenias who live in Armenia say they were much better offduring the Soviet era then than at present” comment, you are correct but not for the reason you are intending. The real reason is, under Russian Soviet regressive policy for decades, the people of Armenia turned lazy, and in order to maintain a lifestyle barely above the poverty level, they had to “steal from the state”. After 30 years, nothing has actually changed with their mentality, that’s why we lost 30 years with their lies and theft. The diaspora practiced patriotism while the ignorant class of “leadership” in Armenia practices theft. That’s the real reason we lost Artsakh, not because of the inability of our fighters.

      Ask yourself this important question. Why is the Ukraine, a nation essentially of the same race, religion and culture of Russia, wanting to break free of the Russian stranglehold? The answer is very simple: those who trust and shack up with Russia end up getting used, abused, and then tossed away. The 100 year history of Armenia has shown this beyond any doubt.

  11. PAshinyan doesn’t go to Artsakh at the request if Azerbaijan. Imagine that? Pashinyan wanted to lose this war. That is clear. Thats why he purposely didn’t mobilize the Armenian Army. Purposely lied at every turn as he does today. He let Artsakh alone to defend itself. Remember Armenia was the protector of Artsakhs security. Not any more. He allowed 45oo Armenians to die just so his dreams of no more Artsakh becomes real and hes can then pretend that its not his fault but blame the past rulers in charge, who BTW liberated land and kept it under Armenian control..He IS A TRAITOR to ALL ARMENIANS. NEVER FORGET THAT!

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