By Hovannes Shoghikian
An Armenian analyst says Azerbaijan is unlikely to start a war against Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh in the next few years despite its increasing military spending and bellicose rhetoric.
Levon Melik-Shahnazarian says the neighbor’s arms race should not be taken too seriously, as, according to him, the 900 million dollars’ worth of materiel that Azerbaijan purchased from Belarus and Ukraine can be considered as metal scrap.
“It is mostly out of order and unfit for use,” he said. “The dollars allocated to the Azerbaijani army are simply eyewash for the people. Part of the funding never stays in the army, but enriches those who had allocated them.”
The analyst believes that the economic influence of the West does not allow Azerbaijan to make decisions independently and that the Karabakh settlement issue today is in the hands of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
“The mission of the Minsk Group cochairmen over the past 12 years was not to allow a restart of war, because no great power with interests in the region wanted that war,” Melik-Shahnazarian said, adding that ‘the negotiators have exhausted their imagination regarding the settlement.’
Meanwhile, according to Melik-Shahnazarian, the current situation suits the mediators considering the latest geopolitical developments in the world. “Our task is to gain as much as possible in this period so that when it is time for a serious solution comes we could have much stronger positions than we have today.”
Melik-Shahnazarian finds it offending to talk about ceding territories and says that “neither the present generation nor the generations to come have the right to do that.”
“One of the arguments for the return of territories like Zangelan, Jebrahil, Kubatly is that Armenians did not live in those territories for the past several decades. If we negotiate around this argument, it will mean that morally and legally we give up our claims to the Armenian in which Armenians do not live today.”
The analyst says that sooner or later official Yerevan will have to give up its policy of comlpementarism. “It is of great importance to choose the road we are going and with whom we are going. No war is expected with Azerbaijan in the next few years, and so in this period we need to choose an ally cooperating with which we can be ready for future wars.”
Melik-Shahnazarian thinks that Armenia must toughen its conditions at the negotiations, but says he has no particular expectations from the possible meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan: “They will meet, say ‘hello’ to each other, probably will drink tea together, and then will come out and say that everything is still ahead, that there are grounds for future meetings.”