Azerbaijan now deems itself powerful enough to chart a third way, in which it adopts a Russia-style authoritarian model, while positioning itself as a so-called “strategic partner” with the West on energy issues and security.
Armenia has not been immune to the recent turmoil affecting the post-Soviet space and this summer saw the worst flare-up on the Line of Contact between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces since 1994.
The Sochi meeting between Russia’s, Armenia’s, and Azerbaijan’s presidents is but one episode in the series of Russia’s protracted peacemaking efforts. Rather, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict serves as a great pretext for Russia’s presence in the South Caucasus.
Putin enjoyed his moment in the media limelight as a peace-maker over Karabakh. But the lack of substance from the summit suggests that Russia is as out of ideas as anyone else on the Karabakh conflict.
The ceasefire in Nagorny Karabakh has been violated multiple times over the last few days. Without a more substantial peace process that both Armenia and Azerbaijan can buy into, the violence is all too likely to re-occur.
With the conflict reaching Iraq, which reflects to the same religious divisions as in Azerbaijan, the risk is greater that Azerbaijanis Shia and Sunnites will be affected by the sectarianism of the Middle East.
Although Ankara tries to have balanced relations with Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, Turkey’s policy in the South Caucasus is primarily determined by its relations with Azerbaijan, who is the best ally and economic partner for Ankara.
Crimea and Nagorno-Karabakh are two regions with similar histories which took very different paths after the Soviet Union broke up. With the invasion of Crimea their paths seem to be again converging.
Azerbaijan has picked a fight with the U.S. government. The simplest explanation for this may be that President Aliyev is as paranoid and isolated as their actions suggest. If United States want to maintain influence in Azerbaijan it should find messengers who can get through some thick palace walls.
The ceasefire, which halted the war over Nagorny Karabakh 20 years ago, has been broken with grim regularity. Ordinary soldiers and civilians are the ones who pay the price for a lack of agreement on the front line, which is called Karabakh’s Line of Contact.