Azerbaijan is testing Armenia’s red lines

The decision by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to hand over the four villages of Baghanis, Voskepar, Kirants and Berkaber in the Tavush province to Azerbaijan has been described in a variety of ways, with some calling the decision a treacherous action by the government, while others referring to it as a key step towards the normalization of ties between the two countries. While I was trying to understand which perspective is right and which is wrong, I received a message from one of my international friends from Luxembourg. She asked what was happening in Armenia and why there are such widespread protests in the country. 

In response to my description of the situation, she said: “I have a question though; what is Armenia getting in return for ceding these villages to Azerbaijan? Because so far I only understand that Armenia is giving in to Aliyev’s demands and making compromises, but maybe it just hasn’t been highlighted by the media what Armenia gets. Except for promises of ‘peace,’ but…”  

I told her that, even after all the territorial concessions, there is still not a guarantee of peace. “The authorities only speak about a possible reduction in the likelihood of war,” I said.  

What my Luxembourg friend texted me a few days after that conversation is what I would like readers, and hopefully the Armenian authorities, to pay attention to. 

“Milena, I’m reading this part of an article (unrelated to the situation in Armenia), and I feel it really describes metaphorically what is happening in Armenia.” 

Then, she sent me this excerpt from the article:

“During the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians were warned of the consequences they would suffer were they to give in to initial Spartan demands. Greek statesman Pericles told his fellow Athenians that if they were frightened into obedience by the initial demands of the Spartans in order to avoid war, then they would instantly have to meet a greater demand. Actually, contained in the Spartans’ demand was actually a test of the Athenians’ resolve. And if they give in once, they would have to give in again, and ultimately they would be enslaved. On the other hand, a firm refusal would make the Spartans clearly understand that they must treat the Athenians more as equals.”  

Yerevan is ours and will be ours, Azerbaijan (screenshot)

I couldn’t think of a better parallel than what this excerpt sent by my friend describes. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has been testing Armenia’s red lines continuously, and we seem to show continuously that we have none. By giving in to every new demand, we lose in three ways. First of all, we lose lands, the lands for which our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed their lives. Second, we lose important strategic heights, which could be of major help and significance in case of new aggression. According to ArmInfo, “In addition to vital communications, the four villages also play a crucial role in Armenia’s strategic defensive posture. Armenia currently holds strategic heights and well-developed defensive lines along this part of the border. Tavush stands out as the only region with superior defensive positioning over Azerbaijan compared with other border areas, which can explain Azerbaijan’s strong desire to  obtain the villages, potentially facilitating the conquest of the entire country.” With this information, one realizes that the handing over of the four villages and the loss of crucial strategic points might not only not reduce the likelihood of a new war but actually facilitate one — one in favor of Azerbaijan and one that will be costly (perhaps even detrimental) for Armenia. Third, Armenia loses in a game of strategic maneuvering, in which Azerbaijan’s probing tactics are aimed at testing Armenia’s political, territorial and ideological red lines.

I do not support war, and I do want peace. However, I do not believe that what is currently happening between Armenia and Azerbaijan is a peace-building process. It is a process of humiliation, a process of imposing demands and requirements, a process of being afraid and choosing flight from the fight-or-flight response.

From the handing over of the four villages to his calls for a new constitution, Pashinyan’s steps align with Aliyev’s demands, expectations and wishes, making it seem like we are ready to sacrifice everything just to avoid war. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan is getting everything it wants without a war anyway, while strengthening its positions and increasing chances of its victory in case it does decide to start a war against Armenia. What was once wishful thinking for Azerbaijan is now a sad reality for Armenia. We keep losing and losing, and Azerbaijan keeps proving the proverb that “appetite comes with eating.” The question “which ‘dish’ on the menu will be ordered next” still puzzles me. Simultaneously, news such as, “A second Azerbaijani government-organized ‘Return to Western Azerbaijan’ festival is happening in Nakhichevan, featuring exhibits on 11 districts of ‘Western AZ,’ which is Armenia” still pop up on my feed, despite continued efforts by the Armenian authorities to “normalize relations” and establish lasting “peace.” 

This is a process of forgetting who we were, who we can possibly be. It is a process of disregarding our strengths and exaggerating our weaknesses while overestimating the adversary’s power capabilities and creating an image of Azerbaijan as an unbeatable adversary — as if a few years ago we weren’t celebrating the Armenian liberation of Shushi and our indisputable victory against Azerbaijan. 

Peace imposed is not peace lasting. It is impossible to establish lasting peace in an environment of mutual hatred and hostility. The continuous demands by Azerbaijan and the continued losses for Armenia, coupled with the aggression during the recent Artsakh wars, Azerbaijan’s torture and inhumane treatment of Armenian prisoners of war and Aliyev’s attempts at political and moral humiliation, increase the negative sentiments among Armenians towards Azeris, making the idea of peace displeasing and sickening, as it seems to be offered to us at the expense of our dignity. This is what the authorities in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the international community, which continues welcoming and supporting the ongoing attempts at peacebuilding, need to acknowledge and take into full consideration when approaching the matter. For peace to last, it has to be negotiated between and not imposed on one of the sides. Otherwise, we might end up in a situation where peace imposed is war enhanced. 

Milena Baghdasaryan

Milena Baghdasaryan

Milena Baghdasaryan is a graduate from UWC Changshu China. Since the age of 11, she has been writing articles for a local newspaper named Kanch ('Call'). At the age of 18, she published her first novel on and created her own blog, Taghandi Hetqerov ('In the Pursuit of Talent')—a portal devoted to interviewing young and talented Armenians all around the world. Baghdasaryan considers storytelling, traveling and learning new languages to be critical in helping one explore the world, connect with others, and discover oneself. After completing her bachelor's degree in Film and New Media at New York University in Abu Dhabi, Milena is currently enrolled in an advanced Master of Arts program in European Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Europe in Natolin.


  1. Alas this is the result of obsinate behaviour post 1994 ceasefire Armenian governments made in maximilism whilst not having the confidence to incorporate Arktash. In trying to hold on to everything ends up losing everything. Also the tragic presumptions about Russia who has never been to Armenia what the USA is to Israel and was to the Kosovo Albanian cause yet due to desperation and wishful ignorance has been reverered as though it was. The grave error was mistakenly counting on Russia and overating the 1994 ceasefire on favourable terms as a decisive final victory. Russias betrayal and Armenia epiphany about this still leaves Armenia with no meaningful support. Azerbaijan is clearly pushing it’s advantages in ways that Hitler would know the problem for Armenia is that it has no one to back them decisively. Azerbaijan is likely to insist on pre 1975 Soviet boundaries which favoured it even more and an extraterritorial corridor as a reparations for occupation of its internationally recognised territory. The sad thing is this is in part a result of the abysmal failure of Armenian diplomats who it seems were brainwashed from the Soviet era in not seeing the reality about Armenia relative decline in prowess after 1994 and that Russia would deem Armenia to be taken for granted owing to the issues with Turkey and Azerbaijan. The tragedy is that Armenia has fallen into the position of concessions and appeasement to avoid war which will only continue as it doesn’t serve Azerbaijan to bind itself to any treaty which would forbid it to behave this way.

  2. Those Armenian zombies who think what incompetent traitor Pashinyan is doing are key steps towards the normalization of ties between the two countries should be deported to artificial Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku to feel the results up close. I’m really surprised that some among our people act as if they don’t know what our cunning enemies are all about. They think they can coexist with them side-by-side in peace and harmony. They are mistaken and need a wake-up call. Before the 2020 joint Turkish-Azerbaijani invasion of Armenian territories liberated from the enemy in 1994, many among the enemy population were calling for peace and mutual understanding and pointing fingers at outsiders for the conflict between the two sides. That was because they felt helpless and vulnerable back then and not because they believed in all the lies they were spewing.

    Today with terrorist Turkey on their side, and feeling they have the upper hand, they have changed their tunes revealing their TRUE fascist ideology as displayed in the above pictures. These people have not changed and will never change like their Turkish step-cousins-in-crime have not in a thousand years. Wake up already! Kick the current sheep-in-chief Pashinyan out, strengthen the army, unite as one, declare artificial Azerbaijan as the eastern part and an extension of modern Armenia, A.K.A. Eastern Armenia, a historical fact, and when the time is right take the fight to the enemy. They know quite well what we united as one are capable of doing to them. They have already experienced it. The black sheep of the family Pashinyan and the likes of him do not represent our nation and that’s why they have more support among our enemies than they do among our people and the enemy is exploiting this to the fullest. Time to remind coward Ilham what we did to his KGB daddy can be done to him too. Village dog Er-dog-an can’t be his sugar-daddy forever!

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