Interviews 18:14 26/08/2014

Cory Welt: Azerbaijan’s military success is unlikely, which prevents escalation to full-scale war

On Azerbaijani recent military aggression against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the RA, the security issue of the people of Nagorno Karabakh as well as the prospects of the Customs Union has spoken to Associate Director and Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University Dr. Cory Welt.

- Dr. Welt, recently there has been a marked escalation of hostilities in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone while Azerbaijan’s president has openly threatened Armenia with war. What do you think this is preconditioned by? 

- It is always difficult to say exactly why a new outbreak of hostilities occurs along the line of contact. With each summer’s violence worse than the last, the risk of escalation spinning out of control is very high. Unfortunately, as hostilities die down each year, we tend to forget this risk.

It is also hard to understand exactly what the intentions of President Aliyev are, but his speech about war did not seem to be a direct threat. It sounded more like a warning that Azerbaijan has not given up on its lost territories and does not intend to, while serving as a rhetorical way for Aliyev to end this latest round of hostilities.

At the same time, Aliyev saw this summer how much the West supported Ukraine in its efforts to fight externally-supported separatism in the Donbas, as well as Israel’s use of force in Gaza. He is surely convinced that Azerbaijan, too, has the legitimate right to use force; it is only a question of whether he can succeed. For now, Azerbaijan’s military success remains a very big question mark, which fortunately helps put a brake on escalation to full-scale war.

- Can we say that Europe would be more interested to stop Azerbaijan from waging a war now than it was in 1991 (when no one stopped the Azeri aggression), given the fact that Azerbaijan is now an exporter of gas and oil to Europe, with BP having big shares in the Caspian, which will be endangered in case of the resumption of military hostilities? To what extent can this factor actually constitute a deterrent against possible Azerbaijani aggression?

- I would like to think that Europeans worry more about the human cost of a full-scale war in the Caucasus than they do about the potential risk to the pipelines, which for now supply relatively little energy to Europe and would, in the worst case, only be down temporarily. I also don’t think the potential European reaction to an attack on the pipeline is a deterrent to Azerbaijan, if it was truly determined to wage war. Those concerned about the fate of the pipeline would likely blame whichever side directly attacked the pipeline, not who started the conflict.

- The recent Azerbaijani attacks on Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia, growing anti-Armenianism in Azerbaijan (most vividly demonstrated by the Safarov case), complete refusal to accept NKR as a reality as well as official statements to use of force to retake the NK constitute direct existential threats to the population of Nagorno Karabakh. Under these circumstances, how should the security of the population of NK be guaranteed even if a peace agreement is signed between the sides? What confidence building measures should Azerbaijan undertake to reassure that it poses no threat to Armenians?

- Regrettably, we’re not at a moment in time when Azerbaijan is able to credibly offer security guarantees to the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. This is one of the major obstacles to a resolution of the conflict, together with the unwillingness of Nagorno-Karabakh to relinquish occupied territories around the former NKAO. If there were a peace agreement, it would have to include an international peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh that Azerbaijan would not have the right to evict, as well as at least unarmed observers in neighbouring territories that would themselves have to constitute a demilitarized zone. We are far away from such a solution, however. In the meantime, confidence-building measures that could be implemented are simple, on both sides, if there were only political will – a lessening of war rhetoric, a drawdown of snipers, safe treatment and return of detainees, and at least partial demining.

- Dr. Welt, what future do you see for the Russia-led Customs Union and the Eurasian Union? How can the current confrontation between Russia and the West over Ukraine impact this project and its members?

- I suspect that these integration projects will ultimately be successful only to the extent that they reflect the genuine interests of their members and prospective members. We have already seen significant signs of pushback from Kazakhstan and Belarus against the most ambitious forms of these projects, which their leaders do not view to be in their national interests.

The current confrontation in Ukraine is not between Russia and the West. It is between Moscow and Kyiv. I do not think this confrontation itself is key to the success of failure of Moscow-led integration projects. You’ll notice that it really hasn’t changed any country’s position, even Ukraine’s – those opposed to membership continue to oppose, those who supported membership continue to support (even if they are unhappy about it). Unless Moscow genuinely has the power to force integration on its neighbours, Soviet-style (which I doubt), the fate of these projects depends on their economic attractiveness as compared to the attractiveness of alternative models such as those the EU offers. The greatest opportunity for the Customs Union/Eurasian Union is if greater integration with the EU fails to provide the anticipated economic benefits. Disillusionment in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine would be the greatest stimulus for the success of these Russia-led projects. 

Share |


‘Criminalization of Armenian Genocide denial in Russia is in Armenia’s interests, regardless of initiative’s reason’
When trying to put pressure on Turkey, any country, including Russia, is making use of a number of factors, in particular, the Armenian Genocide...
Russian media speculate about Turkey government program, Armenian MFA should not react: expert
There is a misunderstanding in the information field, in particular reports of Russian mass media concerning the program of Turkey’s 64th...
PAP: Current Constitution gives no solutions to some important problems, hinders systemic changes
Members of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) met today with residents of Yerevan’s Shengavit administrative district during...
Macedonian army starts building fence on Greek border
The Macedonian army began erecting a metal fence on Saturday on the country's southern border with Greece at the point where migrants cross...
Georgia concerned about escalation of Russia-Turkey tensions
Georgia is concerned about consequences of the escalation in Russia-Turkey tensions, said Zurab Abashidze, Special Representative of Georgian...
Gomq community of Vayots Dzor region becomes tenth community to have been provided with street lighting
The Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) and VivaCell-MTS presented the outcomes of already the 10th...
Wine fair& sampling opens in Yerevan
A wine fair& sampling opened in Northern Avenue of Yerevan today, on November 28. A wide range of wines made from grapes, pomegranates,...
NKR Defense Army: Azerbaijan violated ceasefire about 300 times in past week
From November 22 to 28, the Azerbaijani side violated the ceasefire about 300 times on the line of contact between the armed forces of Karabakh...
Girl can't get personalized Nutella jar because her name is Isis
As if being a little girl named “Isis” in this day and age isn't hard enough, now even Nutella has a problem with her name....
Alexander Markarov: 102nd Russian military base in Armenia unlikely to be used in Russia-Turkey standoff
An open confrontation between Russia and NATO can hardly be expected, such a scenario is unlikely, although nothing can be ruled out, political...
Representative of Armenian Community in Lithuania denies Azerbaijani media’s false information: Thank God, there are honest Lithuanians
Azerbaijan media ran false information about the participation of Marat Sargsyan, a film director and representative of the Armenian Community...
Disregarding problem of early marriages in Azerbaijan promotes paedophilia, expert says
The disregard of the problem of early marriages in Azerbaijan can be considered as promotion of paedophilia and undermining the health of the...
All motorways in Armenia passable
All the motorways in Armenia were passable as of 9:00 am today on November 28, according to the press service of Armenian Ministry of...
Zhamanak: Gang’s detention was planned for a later date
‘Zhamanak’ paper says citing its sources that the detention of the gang recently rendered harmless in Yerevan was planned for a...
Zhoghovurd: Party of Ara Abrahamyan to be called ‘National Unity’
President of the Union of Armenians of Russia Ara Abrahamyan already decided when he will call the constituent assembly of the new party he is...
Arthur Vardanyan and 20 members of criminal group set up by him arrested for 2 months
The general jurisdiction court of Kentton and Nork Marash administrative districts of Yerevan held a hearing on Friday, November 27. The court...
Colorado Springs: Three killed in shooting at Planned Parenthood clinic
A shooting at a family planning clinic in Colorado Springs has left two civilians and a police officer dead, with the suspected gunman under...
22 drown as minibus runs off road in Burkina Faso
Twenty-two people drowned after the minibus they were travelling in veered off a road in southwest Burkina Faso, the government in Ouagadougou...
Yes and No’ reality show: Situation in Armenia can also change without constitutional reform
The situation in Armenia could change for the better now too if there were the necessary preconditions, the head of the Public Opinion Research...
Yerevan-based Football Club Pyunik refuses to attend training session in Turkey in view of past week’s
Yerevan-based Football Club Pynuik has refused to participate in a training session in Turkey “in view of the past week’s...
Yerevan hosts session of CIS Council on Labor, Migration and Social Protection of Population
The 18th session of the Consultative Council on Labor, Migration and Social Protection of the Population of CIS member states started in Yerevan...
President of Artsakh visits military units
On 27 November Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan visited a number of Defense Army’s military units located in the northeastern part...
Paris attacks: France holds service two weeks after massacre
France has held a national memorial service for the 130 people who died in the Paris attacks two weeks ago, the BBC reported. Some 2,600...
NSS of Armenia to verify recently-arrested Yerevan criminal group leader’s involvement in ISIS
The criminal group arrested during an operation conducted by Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) in Yerevan on November 25 is an...
Euphoria over Russian State Duma bill on Armenian Genocide denial criminalization inappropriate: Melkonyan
Director of the Institute of History of National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of Armenia Ashot Melkonyan urged everyone to stop euphoria over the...
Turkey has not changed in the last hundred years, Sharmazanov says at meeting with Naryshkin
Vice Speaker of the Armenian parliament Edward Sharmazanov met on November 26 with Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Sergey Naryshkin on the...
Criminal group arrested in Yerevan not related to political forces, NSS deputy chief says
The criminal group arrested on November 25 in Yerevan during an operation conducted by the National Security Service of Armenia has no relation...
President Sargsyan, prosecutor general discuss upcoming constitutional referendum in Armenia
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan received today Prosecutor General of Armenia Gevorg Kostanyan who made a report on the competence of...
Azerbaijan: Nardaran settlement residents deny authorities’ accusations of revolution attempt
Azerbaijan police stepped up enhanced security measures after clashes took place in Nardaran settlement, Baku, local news agency Trend reports....
NSS of Armenia: Citizens, some branches of power were target of criminal group arrested in Yerevan
The criminal group detained during an operation conducted by units of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) in Yerevan on November 25...

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}