Mass exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh: what’s next?

After Azerbaijan’s military victory in Nagorno-Karabakh thousands of Armenian civilians are fleeing the region, fearing either forced displacement or oppression by the new Azerbaijani rulers. A large explosion near the regional capital Stepanakert on Monday night which killed at least 20 people and left hundreds injured has fuelled fears for their safety. Europe’s press voices deep concern.

Adevărul (RO) /

A people in fear

Armenians who do not leave Nagorno-Karabakh now have no idea what the future holds for them, conflict analyst Iulian Chifu comments in Adevărul:

“The biggest concern at the moment is the prospects of the Armenian minority in Karabakh. The Azerbaijani side has announced that the minority can either accept Azerbaijani passports and authority or leave for Armenia or Russia. It is estimated that of the 120,000 Armenians still in the enclave, between 50,000 and 70,000 want to leave the Azerbaijani region. The main problem is the security guarantees that Azerbaijan could offer without the involvement of Armenia, Russia or any European organisation. Fears range from exclusion and gradual expulsion to discrimination and ethnic cleansing.”

Iulian Chifu
De Volkskrant (NL) /

Set clear boundaries for Baku

The EU must set boundaries for Azerbaijan, De Volkskrant demands:

“The EU wants to mediate between the two countries with US diplomatic support. ... In an ironic twist, the EU has also recently started sourcing part of the gas it no longer wants to buy from Moscow from Baku. Despite both countries’ negotiations with the EU, and to some extent with Russia, it has been clear for more than a year that Azerbaijan is uncompromising in negotiations. The blatant human rights violations could herald even worse violence if Azerbaijan’s ambitions are not curbed. The EU must now prove that its foreign policy goes beyond its new gas dependence on Baku.”

Arnout Brouwers
La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Moscow seeking to destabilise Armenia

Russia will try to expand its influence in Armenia, political scientist Ina Paitjan comments in an open letter published by La Libre Belgique and other newspapers:

“The Russian authorities are helping to provoke disputes within the Armenian population with the goal of weakening and destabilising the country from within. Pro-Russian supporters in Armenia and Russia are trying to divide the Armenians in order to replace the Pashinyan government with a pro-Russian government. Armenians are paying a high price for their pursuit of democratic values, their fight against corruption and having distanced themselves from Moscow.”

Ina Paitjan
The Times (GB) /

If there ever was a Pax Russica it has died

Russia’s lack of loyalty has consequences for the entire region, says The Times:

“The lesson for Russia’s erstwhile allies is clear: as long as it is engaged in its bloody campaign against Kyiv, it does not have the energy or bandwidth to deter attack elsewhere. If there ever was a Pax Russica it has shrivelled and died in the late Putin era. Mr Putin, viewed from the Russian periphery, is an increasingly unimpressive peacekeeper. ... Mr Putin’s attention has wandered and his lack of loyalty to neighbours and traditional allies like Armenia will be rewarded in kind. The outcome, say Armenian analysts, could be a breakdown in talks and a new broader war, dragging in Turkey, Iran and perhaps even Russia by the end of next month.”

Valery Solovei (RU) /

Azerbaijan’s victory holds a mirror to Russia

In a Facebook post political scientist Valery Solovei compares Baku’s Nagorno-Karabakh operation with the Ukraine invasion and draws conclusions that are not very flattering for Moscow:

“It is possible to solve an international problem militarily if: 1) international law (or at least some aspects of it) is on your side; 2) there is no danger that a powerful external force will perceive what is happening as a threat to itself and intervene; 3) military capabilities match political objectives. ... Under the leadership of its wise Kremlin elders, Russia has made every mistake it could have made. Its ‘special military operation’ will serve for decades as an example to the world of how NOT to do things.”

Valery Solovei