Attempts to Undermine Peace Quests on the Baku-Yerevan Line: Border Provocation

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Although the normalization efforts on the Baku-Yerevan line continue, a permanent peace agreement has not been signed between the parties, despite the signing of the ceasefire agreement that ended the Second Karabakh War on November 9, 2021. The prolongation of this process makes the ceasefire environment fragile. As a matter of fact, it was seen that there were clashes on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border on May 12, 2023.[1]

At this point, it is worth remembering that Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan met in Washington on 1 May 2023 under the mediation of the United States of America (USA) Foreign Minister Antony Blinken. Because, this meeting showed that the USA both wanted to increase its influence in the context of mediation diplomacy in the Russian close environment and supported the normalization processes of the USA in the region in terms of ensuring the stability of the Southern Gas Corridor in the context of the global energy crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine War.

On the other hand, the differences in expectations between the parties to dispute came to the fore once again. Because the Baku administration wants to register its rightful victory on the field in the Second Karabakh War, also at the table. The Yerevan administration, on the other hand, is in search of an agreement that will minimize its losses on the ground. In this context, although Armenia gives positive messages regarding the agreement with Azerbaijan, it does not want to make concessions on two issues and these issues prolong the peace process.

The first of the issues in question is the situation of the Karabakh Armenians. Despite Armenia’s various demands, Baku closes the issue by stating that Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory, that Armenians living in the region will have equal rights with all Azerbaijani citizens, and therefore this is an internal matter of Azerbaijan. The second issue is the Zangezur Corridor issue. While Baku wants this corridor to be opened as soon as possible; conflicting statements are coming from Yerevan and it is seen that the process is taken slowly.

In fact, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is in favor of signing a peace agreement with Azerbaijan. The main reason for this is that Pashinyan is a pro-Western leader. Pashinyan is aware that the pro-occupation policies make it difficult for Armenia to open up to the West and thus cause it to be isolated from the world. Overcoming the isolation situation, on the other hand, goes through the normalization of Armenia with its neighbors. Aware of this idea that condemns the Armenian people to poverty, the Pashinyan administration wants to sign a peace agreement, but various difficulties arising from the internal dynamics of Armenia make it difficult for the Pashinyan administration to take concrete steps.

To explain the situation in question, it is necessary to mention the Karabakh Clan, which advocates pro-occupation policies in Armenia and wishes Yerevan to deepen its relations with Moscow in this context. Clan refers to Armenian politicians from Karabakh. Their prominent names are former Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan. These names loudly voice their demand for a return to pro-occupation policies and try to put pressure on the Pashinyan administration.

As it can be understood, the rhetoric of the Karabakh Clan also mobilizes the ultra-nationalist sections of the Armenian society, and this poses another challenge for the Pashinyan administration. Because social movements take place in Armenia from time to time and there are events that demand Pashinyan’s resignation. However, the fact that the Armenian Prime Minister overwhelmingly won the early elections in the country despite the protests after the Second Karabakh War and the memorandum given by the Armenian Army has revealed that the vast majority of the Armenian people want peace and are tired of the pro-occupation policies and the costs incurred by these policies.

The third difficulty of the Pashinyan administration is the pro-occupationist segments in the Armenian Army, which advocate close cooperation with Russia. It can be said that the generals, most of whom were educated during the Soviet Union, wanted to narrow down Yerevan’s area of ​​concessions by putting pressure on the Pashinyan administration.

As can be expected, the provocation on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border on May 12, 2023 is due to the effort of a group in the Armenian Army to narrow the area of ​​concessions of Pashinyan administration. Because, after the meeting held in Washington on May 1, 2023, it is expected that Pashinyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev will meet in Brussels on May 14, 2023 through the mediation of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.[2] In addition, on May 19, 2023, it was announced that Bayramov and Mirzoyan would meet in Moscow under the mediation of Russia.[3] Therefore, it can be stated that behind the border provocation on May 12, 2023, there is an effort to sabotage the peace search of the radical groups in the Armenian Army and to narrow down Yerevan’s area of ​​concessions by putting the Pashinyan administration under pressure. The border conflicts in the past negotiation processes also confirm this.

As a result, although the ceasefire agreement that ended the Second Karabakh War is in force, the prolongation of negotiations on a permanent peace agreement makes the peace process fragile. The conflict at the border on May 12, 2023 has clearly demonstrated this.

[1] “At Least Two Soldiers Killed in Clashes on Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Ahead of Peace Talks”, WION,, (Date of Accession: 13.05.2023).

[2] “EU to Host Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Talks”, Politico,, (Date of Accession: 13.05.2023).

[3] “Azerbaycan ve Ermenistan Dışişleri Bakanları 19 Mayıs’ta Moskova’da Görüşecek”, TRT Haber,, (Date of Accession: 13.05.2023).

Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN, 2014 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2017 yılında Giresun Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası Güç İlişkileri Bağlamında İkinci Dünya Savaşı Sonrası Hegemonik Mücadelelerin İncelenmesi’’ başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora derecesini ise 2021 yılında Trakya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı‘nda hazırladığı “İmparatorluk Düşüncesinin İran Dış Politikasına Yansımaları ve Milliyetçilik” başlıklı teziyle alan Başaran’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Uluslararası ilişkiler kuramları, Amerikan dış politikası, İran araştırmaları ve Afganistan çalışmalarıdır. Başaran iyi derecede İngilizce ve temel düzeyde Farsça bilmektedir.