Analysts: Regional conflict hurts Russia as well as Caucasus

Even 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Caucasus continues to be the hottest spot in the former Soviet territory, where ethnic clashes, manifestations of fostered hatred and enmity occur quite regularly. According to political analysts, dividing lines between the countries of the Caucasus are the result of powerful foreign players, each of which pursues their own interests in the region.

Political analyst Hovsep Khurshudyan says that the Caucasus is made up of a wonderful and rich “mosaic”, the basis of which has been formed by different cultures and peoples, and that none of them should be forced to leave the area where they want to live.

“The Caucasus should decide its fate itself, but there should be a new approach for a cooperative future, for further living in the same region. The values that exist today in our societies do not form the basis, on which it would be possible to live together. If areas are much more valuable than people, it cannot serve as a basis for peaceful coexistence,” said Khurshudyan.

According to the analyst, hatred towards Armenians that is fostered in Azerbaijan at the state level primarily harms the people of Azerbaijan, especially when this hatred is based on lies.

“The president of Azerbaijan claims that Zangezur (Armenia’s southern region) is an Azerbaijani territory and Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is an ancient Azerbaijani city, and that they must liberate those areas from Armenians. There is no such phenomenon in Armenia. Remember another case, when [Ramil] Safarov, who murdered a sleeping Armenian officer, was promoted hero in Azerbaijan. This situation is beneficial to foreign players, mainly for Russia. Critical signals are heard from the West: Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, etc. But the dividing lines in the Caucasus are favorable to Russia, the other parties, such as the United States and Europe, see the Caucasus within the framework of a united European Union,” says the political analyst.

Journalist Tatul Hakobyan, a Caucasus conflicts expert, says that today the Armenian-Georgian relations play a major role in regional security.

“Whatever happens – the four-day war in Karabakh, five-day war between Russia and Georgia – Armenia and Georgia should come to a consolidation and try to ensure that there are no more dividing line between the two countries, which is of great significance. And if Armenia has a Euro-Atlantic vision, then it can only be reached together with Georgia,” says Hakobyan.

Vagharshak Harutyunyan, former Minister of Defense, says that it should always be taken into consideration what the interests of the major players in the region are. Referring to Russia, he adds that the country does not need any conflicts.

“In the early 1990s, there emerged conflicts of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Karabakh. Russia was the country that restored peace in these areas. I have been involved in these negotiations in 1994, and I can tell you in detail what was happening. Conflicts here are not beneficial to Russia. It has its interests here, and it will continue to stay here and fight for its interests, but peaceful conditions are beneficial to Russia, and it can only then increase its influence,” said Harutyunyan.

Meanwhile, according to the former official, it is beneficial to those countries that want to throw Russia off the region.

“Who needed the conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia? At that time, Armenia and the whole Transcaucasia were cut off from Russia. There was no infrastructure, economic relations, and it was not possible to provide a link with Russia. And in that situation, Armenia’s economy turns toward Turkey. And the longer the conflicts in the South Caucasus last, the more Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan will be cut off from Russia, and the further they will head for south,” said Harutyunyan.