The 'allies' of Armenia and the friends of Azerbaijan - the dividing line may run through the South Caucasus

05.04.24 23:24

Ahead of the trilateral meeting in Brussels between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, a potential global geopolitical divide is emerging, which may pass through the southern Caucasus.


It is worth noting that historically, Armenian nationalists have faced opposition from detractors in Georgia, who have incited separatist conflicts and contributed to the current regional war. Armenian nationalists have been accused of promoting separatism in Georgia with the help of their long-time ally, Russia.


Despite now having new allies, the Armenian lobby has not taken a stance against Russia's occupation of 20% of Georgian lands and is opposed to the return of Georgian refugees to the region. After all, Armenians in Abkhazia have become the majority of the population due to this occupation.


The possibility of a major war in the South Caucasus region poses a threat to further divide Georgia, in addition to the already occupied Abkhazia and Samachablo. This is especially concerning as Armenian nationalists have expressed their desire to create a 'corridor to the sea' by breaking through Georgian territory. However, it appears that this will not be achieved with the help of Russia, but rather with the assistance of Western countries, particularly France.


It is evident that the primary issue to be addressed at the upcoming meeting in Brussels, between Armenia, the EU, and the USA, is the provision of Western weapons to the Armenian army and its integration into the American programme of external military financing. This is exemplified by the statement made on 4 April 2024 by Vasilisa Maragosa, the head of the EU delegation to Armenia, during a speech in the country's parliament, that the EU intends to support Armenia on the issue of arms.


Paris is already providing military assistance to Armenia and justifying it to the USA based on the postulates of Armenian propaganda. During a joint briefing with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Paris, French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejournet discussed the issue of territorial integrity in Armenia, which he believes is being challenged by Azerbaijan. It is widely known that Azerbaijan has always recognized and continues to recognize Armenia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. In contrast to Armenia, which has recently occupied Azerbaijani Karabakh and the surrounding areas, and still holds control over eight Azerbaijani villages.


France's position aims to influence the war, but Azerbaijan is not alone. Turkey is always ready to provide assistance, which is already helping to strengthen the country's defence capability. Recently, a large delegation of representatives from Turkish defence companies, headed by Chairman of the Turkish Defence Industry Authority Haluk Görgün, visited Azerbaijan. They discussed the further development of defence ties between the two countries with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.


Turkey's provision of weapons to Azerbaijan serves as a clear indication of its commitment to supporting Azerbaijan in the event of aggression. This was recently confirmed by Mevlut Cavusoglu, the head of the Turkish Grand National Assembly delegation to the NATO PA, during his visit to Baku.


Additionally, Cavusoglu cautioned France against taking any further actions that could escalate the conflict in the South Caucasus, in response to numerous statements made by French officials.


Cavusoglu stated that French representatives should refrain from providing Armenia with biased support, and instead consider Azerbaijan's position. It is important to note that Azerbaijan has historically not been isolated.


Turkey is seeking peace in the region. Mevlut Cavusoglu has reiterated the benefits of the Zangezur corridor, including economic integration for Armenia. The corridor will be one of the routes of the Middle Corridor, stretching from China to Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus and Turkey.


Turkey has called on third countries to take an impartial stance in resolving the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and to achieve long-term peace in the region. The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that following Azerbaijan's liberation of the occupied territories and the restoration of sovereignty throughout the country after the Second Karabakh War, there is a historic opportunity to establish lasting peace and stability in the region.


The statement emphasised the importance of fair and impartial third-party involvement in the process, particularly from extra-regional players, to avoid any damage.


Leading European countries have also expressed support for the Turkish position and condemned France's military escalation. The Italian Foreign Ministry criticised the French Foreign Ministry for Minister Stephane Sejournet's anti-Azerbaijani outburst during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.


According to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Edmondo Cirielli, the ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia has become stable due to the responsibility of both countries. However, any impromptu statement made by representatives of institutions not involved in the conflict could potentially worsen tensions.


Edmondo Cirielli has criticised the statements made by French Foreign Minister Stéphane Sejournet, stating that they are not helpful in calming the situation. Cirielli suggests that it would be more appropriate for Sejournet to avoid prejudicing the efforts of those working towards the final pacification of the area.


The issue of supporting the Armenian revanchists has caused a split within the NATO bloc, with France taking a different stance. Italy, Hungary, and several other NATO members share Turkey's opposition to this, creating a split within the NATO bloc. This division, which was once considered a guarantor of security in many regions of the world, significantly increases the risk of a regional war in the South Caucasus.


Such a war could deal a catastrophic blow to the world economy by severing the vital Middle Corridor that is crucial to Georgia's economy. Furthermore, escalation of conflict in the South Caucasus could potentially trigger a chain reaction. It is important to note that certain NATO countries may not only fail to prevent a war in the region, but may also actively participate in it, as exemplified by France. This raises the possibility of new conflict zones emerging in areas with existing tensions, such as Central Asia, the Near East, and the Middle East.


Grigol Giorgadze

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