Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan has cold-bloodedly planned to provoke military incident with Azerbaijan, Founding Director of the International Foundation for Better Governance James Wilson said in his EURACTIV online media network article.
Focusing on the recent attack of the Armenian armed forces on July 12 in Azerbaijan’s Tovuz direction, Wilson noted that a rational analysis of the situation points to the likely motives that have pushed Armenia into triggering these clashes.
According to him, Pashinyan has cold-bloodedly planned to provoke the military incident diverting Armenian population’s attention from his failure to handle the COVID-19 crisis and resultant economic problems, attempting to occupy “new favourable positions” in Azerbaijani territory, and dragging the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) into a conflict with Azerbaijan.
“Armenia has been the post-Soviet nation hardest hit by the pandemic: with reportedly over 30,000 infection cases and more than 500 deaths, as of mid-July,” Wilson said.
“The country declared a state of emergency in March, and since then economic activity has collapsed, businesses have closed and unemployment has spiraled. There has been an estimated decline in GDP of between 2-3.5 percent, and the Armenian health system is now clearly at the limit of its capacity to deal with the crisis. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been severely criticised by the opposition for ineffective crisis management and failing to tackle the pandemic.”
As Wilson further noted, the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and not the conflict zone of Nagorno-Karabakh, was chosen for starting the conflict.
“From a military point of view, Azerbaijan`s north-western provinces might have also seemed an easy target to the Armenian military. Armenian side was hoping to advance into Azerbaijan`s territory and to occupy new territories. This new tactic is also in line with the Armenian Minister of Defence David Tonoyan’s publicly announced strategic doctrine of “New war for new territories,” he said.
Wilson pointed out another reason for choosing the specific region as a battleground is the key infrastructures passing in the vicinity.
“Built and developed by Azerbaijan over the past two decades, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway form a critical energy and transport corridor between Europe and Asia. They bear geopolitical significance as critical transport and energy infrastructure as a country, which has been left out of such important projects due to its hostile policies toward Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia threatens to target this infrastructure in order to exert economic and political pressure.”
“These border skirmishes which have been initiated by Armenia may escalate into a full-scale war and could further develop into a major geopolitical confrontation.”
As Wilson pointed out, the EU has called on both sides to stop the armed confrontation, refrain from action and rhetoric that provoke tension, and undertake immediate measures to prevent further escalation.
“The EU has urged both sides to devote energy and resources to fighting the coronavirus pandemic and meaningfully re-engage in substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs,” Wilson also said.
“It is important for the EU to step up its diplomacy in the Caucasus, broker a lasting peace and halt the carpetbagging opportunism of Pashinyan which threatens to plunge the region into a war that will benefit nobody,” he added.