Anna Barseghyan is a political analyst, focusing on the South Caucasus and the
European Neighbourhood Policy. She holds master’s degrees from Yerevan State University and the College of Europe in Warsaw, Poland. Since her student years at Yerevan State University (2012), Anna has been working as a political analyst in various think tanks. Having completed
a research internship at the European Parliament, she actively contributes to a number of publications on EU-Armenia relations.
While at the epicenter of world news is still the global pandemic COVID, new fighting has erupted on -Armenian- Azerbaijani border. On July 12, the Armenian Ministry
of Defense has reported that Azerbaijani soldiers attempted to cross the Armenian Azerbaijan state border in a UAZ military jeep in the Armenia’s Eastern Tavush region.
After warning shots by Armenian forces, the Azerbaijani soldiers abandoned their vehicle and returned to their positions. The shootings turned into a skirmish putting the border villages and its civilian populations under attack. During the 3 days of deadly fighting, a number of border villages fell under artillery fire.
According to reports, 4 Armenian soldiers were killed in the clashes. Cyberattacks from Azerbaijan targeted Armenian government and media websites. The Azerbaijani side has reported around 11 casualties, including high ranking officials such as Major General Polad Hashimov and Colonel Ilgar Mirzayev.
Every time hostilities erupt each side blames the other for initiating the fighting. However, in the era of cutting-edge technologies, it is now easier to reveal who
initially violated the ceasefire, and who is on the defence. The main mediator of the conflict, the OSCE Minsk Group, has tried several times, calling on the Presidents of both Armenia and
Azerbaijan to accept an OSCE mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations.
In a Press Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, they stated, “Without such a mechanism, the sides will continue to blame each other for initiating deadly attacks on the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Armenia has agreed to discuss the details of the mechanism, and we urged Azerbaijan to do the same.” However, these calls from the OSCE Minsk Group continue to remain ignored from the Azerbaijani side which has refused all proposals of international mediators on confidence-building measures aimed at the consolidation of another ceasefire. Armenia is also among 170 countries that endorsed UN ceasefire appeal during the COVID crisis. Azerbaijan refused to join the initiative.
The hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border have the potential to turn into a regional war with devastating consequences. There is an urgency to bring
confidence-building mechanisms and the installation of an investigative monitoring system into force. The international body, OSCE Minsk group, should be decisive on this issue otherwise, amid
this global pandemic the world will witness a new war especially when the regional powers demonstrate the destructive approach. Following the development in Tavush Ankara has warned Yerevan that
Turkey will not let “aggression” against its ethnic Turkic kin go unpunished. The high-ranking Turkish official express their solidarity with Azerbaijan. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said
Armenia would “definitely pay” for its actions. Turkey will continue to support Azerbaijan in its full capacity. Speaking to journalists, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. “Turkey will
not abandon its brother Azerbaijan and just as we did during the Caucasus conflict, we are siding with our Azerbaijani brothers and sisters."
On contrary Armenia's military ally- Russia only expressed extreme concerns in regards to the ongoing escalation. Russian President Vladimir Putin and the permanent members of the Russian Security Council discussed the situation at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, stating Russia’s readiness to provide mediation efforts. Such a passive approach could be the result of Russian concerns which maybe trying to create an extraordinary situation to reassert its influence over Yerevan after the Velvet Revolution in 2018.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is over Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), a part of historical Armenia, and Armenian populated autonomous region (89% were Armenians during the Soviet time) which was forced to join the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic in 1920 by the will of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Since the Gorbachev reforms in 1988, the people of Artsakh raised their voice, using their constitutional rights, to secede from Azerbaijani SSR. As a result, Azerbaijani SSR imposed a war which ended in 1994 with the victory of Armenian forces. Since 1992, Nagorno Karabakh has proclaimed its independence and is currently an unrecognized republic. The main mediator of the conflict is the OSCE Minsk group including co-chairs from France, Russia and the USA. The negotiations are still ongoing.