The focus of the Armenian media discussion in October was the tense Iran-Azerbaijan relations, which were presented from different angles and emphasis.
Some linked the escalation of relations with the arrest of two Iranian drivers by the Azerbaijanis on the Goris-Kapan highway and the recent behavior of Azerbaijan, while others viewed them in the context of global regional changes.
The media actively covered the official opinions of both sides, which looked like a long-distance battle. In some cases, the situation was presented in such a tone that the impression was created that military clashes would start very soon. In addition to opinions, the parties were also engaged in a show of force in the form of military exercises.
Against the background of the aggravation of relations, the media also tried to clarify the role of Armenia and the position of the government, especially in the context of the possibility of the so-called Zangezur corridor.
These days, there has been talk that, according to analysts close to the government from Iran, “Iran thinks that Armenia has joined the anti-Iranian coalition with Turkey and Azerbaijan.” And that “if a part of the road comes under the control of Azerbaijan, serious problems will be created for Iran.”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan denied the rumors about joining the anti-Iranian coalition during his official visit to Lithuania, noting that Armenia has never been and will never be involved in a conspiracy against Iran because these relations are very important for Armenia and Armenia will never forget that at the beginning of the 1990s, Iran became a means for life for Armenia.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for Iran to establish a direct land connection between Azerbaijan and Turkey,” said political scientist Benjamin Poghosyan.
“Iran strongly opposes the idea of the Zangezur corridor and expects that Armenia will clearly reject the creation of the corridor. Meanwhile, Pashinyan and his friends advertise the unblocking of communications every day, no longer avoiding using the word “corridor”.
According to Emma Begijanyan, an associate expert at the Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs, if we want to become a subject, the only way is not to give a corridor through Syunik. In this matter, our and Iran’s interests coincide. If our interests are hit hard, it means that it is also a blow to Iran’s interests. So Iran is late, but it is taking a step. Now we must cooperate with Iran on this issue and defend our interests.
The toughening of Iran’s stance on Azerbaijan is due to a number of complex factors, and the idea of creating a “Zangezur Corridor” was the drop that filled Tehran’s cup of patience, according to expert on Russia and Iran, Karine Gevorgyan.
“Another reason for the toughening of Iran’s position is the pan-Turkification of Azerbaijan, which threatens separatism in Iranian Azerbaijan. Such propaganda creates problems inside Iran. “Besides, a year ago, during the war in Karabakh, Tehran pursued allied cooperation with Azerbaijan and Israel, as a result of which Israeli drones appeared in Iran,” the expert added.
Unlike others, Iranian expert Tigran Davudyan thinks that there will be no military conflict between Iran and Azerbaijan, there are not enough preconditions for that, regional and international forces will not tolerate it. Iran is now strongly committed to preparations for international talks to curb its nuclear program, and the priority for Tehran is to rebuild its shattered economy and lift sanctions as soon as possible.
Iranologist Garik Misakyan also rules out the possibility of a war between Iran and Azerbaijan if Azerbaijan does not resort to any sense of adventure.
Iranologist Aharon Vardanyan thinks that Azerbaijan will not go on such an adventure․ It would not be wise to start a war with Iran, realizing that this will be the end of Azerbaijan. On the other hand, it is not known what guarantees international sponsors can give to Azerbaijan.
Armenia’s open airspace and corridor
In October, the media actively discussed the October 6 flight from Baku to Nakhichevan through the airspace of Armenia, mainly blaming the authorities.
Channel 5 started one of its programs like this: “Scandal of the day: The Baku-Nakhichevan flight of the Azerbaijani plane over Armenian air space against the background of the threat of an Iran-Azerbaijan military clash.
It is not ruled out that Baku could take weapons over Armenia to Nakhichevan, where the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem has accumulated troops on one side and Iran on the other. There are cases when Azerbaijani airlines transported illegal weapons to various conflict zones by civilian planes under the guise of diplomatic cargo. Both political scientists and aviation experts think that the flight of Azerbaijani planes through the territory of Armenia is a conspiracy against Iran, which closed its skies for the Azerbaijanis the day before.”
Opinions on the openness of Armenia’s airspace were voiced mainly by the ruling wing. Petros Ghazaryan also talked about this topic with the head of civil aviation Tatevik Revazyan, who noted that the airspace of Armenia was closed only during the 44-day war.
In the article titled “Pashinyan’s government opened the first corridor”, the author wrote that “the prime minister spoke with his unsurpassed demagoguery about the era of peace and moving forward in small steps.” The airspace “corridor” is that small step on the threshold of opening land corridors.
Through the corridors, Armenia will “get” the loss of the Artsakh and Syunik region in exchange for a strictly conditional “survival”. That is the vision of Moscow and Baku, which is clearly stated at the level of the first persons.”
RPA representative, former MP Gagik Minasyan considers this step anti-Iranian․ “Iran closes the sky for Azerbaijan, and Armenia opens it. Thus, the government shows that it is not Iran’s partner in this issue.
In this way, they show that they prefer not the interests of a friendly Iran, but the interests of an enemy country.”
It is difficult to imagine a more shameful phenomenon than the unhindered flight of Azerbaijani aviation through Armenia against the background of the Azerbaijani-Iranian conflict. Political scientist, historian Semyon Baghdasarov wrote about this in his Telegram channel.
“Apparently, the Armenian leadership is probably in a state of complete intoxication or slow-moving schizophrenia. This means that tomorrow the Iranian side will present its demands to Armenia. Let me remind you that one of Armenia’s exits to the outside world passes through Iran, and in the most difficult moment, the Iranians helped Armenia in this issue.
The excuses that “the use of the airspace of the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan by civilian planes was restricted only during the 44-day war, and before that, the airspace was not closed, are intended exclusively for idiots.”
Armenia could not set any conditions for opening its own airspace to Azerbaijani planes, as the Armenian authorities capitulated to the enemy, and besides, the dark story of selling Artsakh for $5 billion remains in the air, Aysor.am correspondent reports. Political technologist Armen Badalyan said in a conversation.
And according to political scientist Tevan Poghosyan, before giving its airspace to Azerbaijan, Armenia should have set conditions for the return of at least all prisoners of war.
“If Armenia is now opening its airspace to Azerbaijan, how does it announce that it will not go against Iran in any conspiracy?”
“It turns out that at the expense of a colleague, someone else was treated well, our enemy country, the country where our captives are being kept, the country whose military invaded our territory. Have the Azerbaijanis already left the territory of Lake Sev?” Tevan Poghosyan asked, adding that the Armenian authorities serve the interests of the hostile state.
Former adviser to the RA Prime Minister on aviation issues Hakob Chagharyan wrote on his Facebook page.
In fact, the “populist” anti-hygienic backpack ruler, without the consent of those who voted for him, single-handedly signed “November 10” again.
I do not know what this dishonorable, shameless, disgraceful government is willing to do.”
Turkologist Varuzhan Geghamyan noted on that occasion that such cases fully prove that “there is a de facto pro-Turkish government in Armenia today. If the activities of the capitulator are not stopped with the cooperation of national forces and foreign partners, then after the air corridor it will be the turn of the land corridor.”
The author of the article titled “One prisoner in exchange for the air border?” Armen Mirzoyan, referring to the news that Azerbaijan is returning the missing Arthur Boris Davidyan to Armenia, wrote, “Naturally, we cannot claim that the return of the Armenian captive could be the price of using the airspace of Armenia, but, taking into account that in recent weeks Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan are exchanging positive signals, this process can not be ruled out. Even if these processes are interconnected, the question arises why only one.”
The death of a tractor driver in Martakert and the silence of the Russian side
One of the most discussed news of the month was the news about a tractor driver who was shot dead by an Azerbaijani sniper near the city of Martakert. The incident took place right in front of the peacekeepers.
The host of the 5th channel started the broadcast with these words, “This week, Azerbaijan once again showed its non-peaceful murderous face to Armenia, which is opening the era of peace. Immediately after the promise of the President of Azerbaijan to break the head of the Armenians, Aliyev’s soldiers went to work. Maybe also because instead of giving a worthy counterattack to the statements degrading our national dignity, the Armenian government urges us to keep our nerves strong.”
According to him, the nerves of the Armenian authorities are turned off when it comes to doing good to Azerbaijan. Referring to the opening of the airspace of Armenia, he added, “For 7 years, the Armenian sky which was untouched by Azerbaijan is now available to Baku… In exchange for opening our air to Azerbaijani planes, Baku returned one captive.”
The news was interesting because the Armenian media wrote that a Russian peacekeeper was also sitting in the tractor at that moment, but the Russian side did not say anything about it.
This broadcast mentioned that a Russian peacekeeper was sitting next to the tractor driver, referring to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Armenia. Also, one peacekeeper was killed and another was wounded in an Azerbaijani shooting two weeks ago in the village of Taghavard in the Martuni region. The people of Taghavard had told the reporter of the media everything, but since there was no official news, they decided not to make it public.
Ara Papyan, head of the Modus Vivendi Center, considers the case a consistent policy of Azerbaijan and Turkey to evict Armenians from Artsakh.
“They understand very well that such victims will rightfully sow fear in people, and people will leave the country. Especially if it is done in the presence of Russian peacekeepers. Much depends on whether Russia will force Azerbaijan to find out who is to blame. ․․․ Will Russia manage to bring the shooter to justice for violating the ceasefire? But I think nothing will be done,” he said.
In the opinion of the RA Human Rights Defender, this tragic incident proves once again that guaranteeing the life, security and peaceful living of the Armenian population, as well as other vital rights, are impossible in the conditions of deep Azerbaijani policy of hatred and enmity and the Azerbaijani authorities sponsoring anti-Armenian sentiment, as long as the perpetrators are not punished for such crimes.
According to the Artsakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Azerbaijan’s steps are aimed at creating an atmosphere of fear among the peaceful population of Artsakh and the eviction of Armenians from Artsakh.
“Azerbaijan also pursues far-reaching goals: To disrupt the implementation of the peacekeeping mission of the Russian Federation and to question the effectiveness of the peacekeepers’ activities,” the statement read.