Normalization Talks in Armenia

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As of late July 2022, ceasefire violations are being observed in Karabakh-based contact zones; that is, on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This can be interpreted as an attempt to sabotage the negotiation process for the signing of a permanent peace agreement between the two countries. In this context, it can be said that both the pro-war nationalist groups, which have an influence on Armenia’s politics and society, and the third countries have committed certain provocations. Meanwhile, both Baku and Yerevan aim at signing a lasting peace agreement as soon as possible.

It can be stated that Azerbaijan feels more comfortable with the signing of the peace agreement. This is because Azerbaijan is ready to sign an agreement confirming its victory in the Second Karabakh War. In that sense, Baku tries to protect the gains it has achieved in the field at the table as well. In this context, the people of Azerbaijan are eager to see the implementation of an agreement that will confirm the Second Karabakh Victory.

On the other hand, the situation is relatively difficult for the Yerevan administration. Although Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Paşinyan takes a stance that supports regional cooperation, security and peace pursuits; and regards the normalization processes as part of the strategy that will prevent Armenia from being isolated from the international community and enable it to open up to the West, he faces a serious opposition. Moreover, it is known that some opposition circles within the army and bureaucracy, advocating the invasion of Karabakh, stand against the normalization process. Essentially, it is necessary to approach the provocations at the border within this framework.

As it is known, the Armenian opposition sees Pashinyan as responsible for the Second Karabakh War. As a matter of fact, according to these groups, the reason Russia took a relatively neutral attitude during the war was that she wanted to punish pro-Western Pashinyan. It should be noted that the Armenian opposition has a point about the attitude of the Moscow administration. Accordingly, if Pashinyan becomes overthrown, those who advocate good relations with Russia may come to power in Armenia. If that happens, revisionist initiatives that can change the status quo established after the Second Karabakh War might be carried out.

Due to this approach, there were anti-Pashinyan protests after the Second Karabakh War, and the Armenian Army attempted a military coup during these events. The Prime Minister of Armenia managed to eliminate both the social movement and the risk of a coup by taking the decision of early elections. Moreover, Pashinyan achieved an overwhelming victory in the elections. This victory reveals that the Armenian people are also tired of pro-occupation policies. In other words, most Armenians are aware that the occupation in Karabakh does nothing but impoverish the country. This means that most of the Armenian people want peace.

Pashinyan is aware of this situation. The Armenian leader thinks that Armenia could attract investment from Western states, especially its neighbors, with the help of the normalization process to be carried out in the region, and that these investments would aid in employment creation. In addition, with the help of normalization processes, Armenia will become an important transit country when corridors are in question and will become one of the key countries of the Central Asia-Caspian Sea-Turkey-European route; that is, the Middle Corridor. This means building a prosperous future for the Armenian people. Therefore, the signing of an agreement that will establish lasting peace is the most rational scenario for the region.

Despite all these opportunities, there is a serious opposition movement in Armenia. Therefore, it is seen that social movements come to the fore from time to time. The latest example of this is the following statements of Mourad Papazian, Co-Chair of the Coordinating Council of the Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF) and Member of the Dashnaksutyun Bureau (ARF):[1]

“Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is turning Armenia into an authoritarian state. Democracy is being trampled on and individual freedoms are being ignored. Pashinyan creates an atmosphere of terror. We do not accept that, and we never will. We will fight for Armenia to get rid of this regime and we will succeed.”

There is no doubt that although there are criticisms in Armenia that Pashinyan has become authoritarian, the basis of these criticisms is the nationalist reaction that emerged after the Second Karabakh War. In this context, both Papazian’s party and the council he serves as co-chairman stand out with their radical nationalist features.

They also include the messages of diaspora through French Armenians. This is because the Armenian Diaspora industrialized the Karabakh Conflict. This means that the diaspora enriched itself by taking advantage of this conflict and ignored the impoverishment of Armenian people. In addition, the relations of the diaspora with other states involves the intervention of third-party actors in peace processes. In the case of Papazian, the main purpose of radical Armenian nationalists is to sabotage the normalization processes carried out with Azerbaijan and Türkiye. It may be argued that the groups that internalize this idea will continue their anti-Pashinyan work. Therefore, it should be emphasized that it is an opportunity for Pashinyan to be in power in Armenia in terms of establishing and maintaining regional peace.

In the face of all these developments, Pashinyan seems to have taken steps through its Civil Contract Party to ensure public support for the peace process. Indeed, with the support of Armenian people, it will not be easy to undermine the negotiations. In this context, important statements are being made by the members of the Civil Contract Party. The words of Armenian Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan about Azerbaijan are remarkable. Kerobyan expressed his belief that the re-establishment of the railway connection with Azerbaijan would connect Armenia to large markets, and that achieving an advanced industry without the railway connection would be impossible.[2]

At this point, it should be emphasized that the will of the parties on the road to peace is of great importance. Therefore, the determination of the parties to continue the negotiations is crucial in terms of eliminating the provocations experienced or likely to occur. As a matter of fact, Kerobyan’s statements are of great importance in terms of revealing the commitment of the Yerevan administration to the pursuit of peace.

In fact, Kerobyan clearly revealed the direction that Armenia wants to move forward in its foreign policy by his statements. The Yerevan administration recognizes that the thirty years of occupation have made the country dependent on Russia and Iran. Reversing this dependency requires Armenia’s access to the West. This is only possible by establishing healthy relations with Türkiye and Azerbaijan. Based on all this information, it can be predicted that much more concrete steps regarding the normalization processes shall be taken in the future, such as making important moves towards actualizing the Zangezur Corridor Project. However, it is understood that Yerevan will first focus on successfully carrying out the persuasion process that will provide public support.

Armenia’s former Minister of Health and Civil Contract Party MP Arsen Torosyan’s statement is like that of Kerobyan. His words “We made a mistake 30 years ago when, during the agony of a collapsing empire, we again chose death and war, became “winners”, and were blinded by pride.” highlighted an important self-criticism.[3]

  • His statement is remarkable in that it indicates how the occupation in the region does not bring any profit to Armenia. Indeed, for thirty years, Armenia has been dragged into the aggressor state status by United Nations (UN) resolutions, its trade relations have been disrupted due to the closure of the Turkish border, and it has become unable to make a significant move in its foreign policy other than strengthening relations with Russia and Iran. Balance politics could not be carried out in the country and Yerevan’s capabilities were limited. This prevented Armenia from becoming a prosperous state.

As a result, the Pashinyan administration favors the emergence of a situation that prioritizes regional security, stability, and prosperity with the help of normalization processes in the region. Although there is a strong will in Yerevan in this regard, it is understood that it is important to get the Armenian public opinion. Therefore, the messages given by Kerobyan and Torosyan in a narrow scope, and by the deputies of the Civil Contract Party in a wider scope, can be interpreted as a reflection of the effort to persuade the public.

[1]“АР little Дашнакцут littleн: Будем бороться за освобождение Армении от действу режима”,,, (Date of Accession: 04.08.2022).

[2]“Армянский министр: Свободная торговля с Азербайджаном поможет выйти на крупные рынки”, Vesti,, (Date of Accession: 04.08.2022).

[3] “Депутат от правя veей в Армении партии: Мы 30 лет назад ошиблись и выбрали войну”,,, (Date of Accession: 03.08.2022).

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.