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Korybko: This exchange inspires confidence for the future

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12 Punto 14 Punto 16 Punto 18 Punto presents the article "The Azerbaijani-Armenian quid pro quo inspires confidence for the future" by Andrew Korybko.

Azerbaijan and Armenia successfully carried out a swap over the weekend whereby Baku returned 15 Armenian prisoners in exchange for Yerevan finally handing over its minefield maps. This quid pro quo inspires confidence for the future of bilateral relations by showing that the political will exists on both sides to pragmatically engage with one another. It's important to point out that this occurred a little more than a week prior to Armenia's upcoming elections so it'll probably also give incumbent Prime Minister Pashinyan a boost in the polls over his comparatively more nationalist rivals.

Whether or not he wins re-election, Azerbaijan and Armenia can still proceed along the path of mutual rapprochement after this successful swap. There are two more items on the agenda that need to be resolved as soon as possible, and these are demarcating their frontiers and unblocking all economic and transport links in the region in compliance with the relevant clause from last November's Moscow-mediated ceasefire agreement. No breakthrough is expected anytime soon on either because Armenia has self-interested political reasons in delaying their implementation as long as possible, but it's here where Russia might be able to help.

The Eurasian Great Power is close with both South Caucasus states, albeit to differing extents. Armenia is its mutual defence ally through the CSTO while Azerbaijan is a much more important economic partner. Russia is doing its utmost to balance between them by not undertaking any moves that could risk harming either of their interests. Similarly, it's offered to play a mediating role between them if requested to do so by both parties. Should bilateral talks prove unsuccessful in breaking the deadlock on those two issues, then their governments might ask Russia to assist. It would be suspicious if Azerbaijan supported this but Armenia refused.

After all, there are growing concerns among some that Armenia is attempting to play Russia off against others like France in a misguided gamble to get better deals from both of them. Azerbaijan already indicated its interest having Russia aid the two in sorting out their remaining problems, but Armenia might delay doing the same for as long as possible for the aforementioned reason. It's too difficult to predict what it'll do until after the upcoming elections since a lot will depend on their outcome. Either way, it's time for both countries to take advantage of the positive moment in bilateral relations after their recent swap to pioneer a breakthrough.

Azerbaijan and Russia should therefore call on Armenia to join them in resolving these issues after its elections next Sunday. Yerevan must be politely put on the spot by both of them since it remains the only one of the three that isn't sincere about reaching a solution to the border and corridor issues even though these are indispensable for sustainably ensuring the same regional stability that's objectively in all of their interests. Hopefully, Armenia will have a change of heart after the upcoming elections and behave more responsibly for the sake of the entire South Caucasus.

2021.06.14 / 11:24
Andrew Korybko
See also

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