The European Political Community summit initiated by France took place in Prague on October 6, featured not only the heads of the European Union countries, but a host of others, including Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Demonstrably, Russia and Belarus were left out. Obviously, this gathering was another step by the West to emphasize Russia’s isolation.

The summit was the kind of political bazaar where many countries discussed issues concerning their interests.

Although the meetings of the leaders of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan were taking place along the sidelines of the forum, they drew much attention and involvement. Thus, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev met in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron and European Union (EU) President Charles Michel. There was also a brief meeting between Pashinyan and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Prague meetings triggered a political whirlwind in Armenia and Karabakh with speculations flying everywhere.

Once the dust settles, we will find out that nothing tangible was achieved except a declaration of intent on principles outlined in a statement released after the summit. That statement reads in part: “Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the charter of the United Nations and the Alma-Ata 1991 declarations [by former Soviet Republics] through which both recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” They continued that it would be the basis for the work of the border delimitation commission and that the next meeting of the commission tasked with settling the border issues would take place in Brussels by the end of October.

In view of Russia’s isolation, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had an angry outburst and stated that the Kremlin was offering a more comprehensive and balanced peace plan – but apparently it has no takers.

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President Aliyev expressed hope that by the end of the year, a peace treaty could be signed, while Pashinyan stated that Armenia and Azerbaijan will recognize each other’s territorial integrity but made no mention of Karabakh.

Right after the meeting, Aliyev’s statements contradicted what the former had believed was achieved, namely the mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity, when the Azerbaijani leader stated in an impromptu press conference: “It is not clear why they are not agreeing to give us a passage to Nakhichevan. This is certainly a violation of their obligations but we remain patient and show restraint. I am sure that we will achieve that as well. The sooner the better.” As one can detect, there is an implied threat to the territorial integrity of Armenia, a country whose lands Azerbaijan is invading.

Aliyev knows that Armenia has offered three alternative passages through its territory to Nakhichevan, yet he ignores that offer, insisting on extraterritorial rights to trample on Armenia’s territorial integrity.

Another achievement of the summit was the agreement to send a group of civilian monitors to the border between the two countries. Armenia agreed to host that delegation, while Azerbaijan said it would deal with the monitors to the extent of its needs.

The Pashinyan-Erdogan meeting yielded only a bland statement from the Turkish leader that Ankara will open its borders with Armenia and establish diplomatic relations only after Yerevan and Baku sign a comprehensive peace treaty.

This is no time for Mr. Erdogan to make controversial statements, as he intends to collect brownie points from the international community for his good behavior and to prop up his sagging popularity at home, especially in light of his disastrous economic policies, which have given rise to incredibly high inflation, before the 2023 elections. He may even engage in a charade of negotiating with the Kurdish opposition leadership as he has a habit of doing before any election and then send these leaders off to jail.

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At this time, the Karabakh leadership is heading to Yerevan to find out what has been discussed about their fate, since rumors are rife that Pashinyan sold them out to Azerbaijan. Pashinyan in the meantime is trying to save his neck by encouraging Baku to negotiate with the Karabakh leadership about the fate of their enclave.

Aliyev, on the other hand, has made his position public that he will treat the people of Karabakh as citizens of Azerbaijan and nothing else. He has invited those who do not agree to be treated as such to leave. Mr. Aliyev is not even bothered by the fact that people in Karabakh hold either Armenian or Russian passports.

Aliyev has not yet bowed to the pressures of the West to withdraw from the occupied territories of Armenia nor has he relented in releasing Armenian POWs. He is intoxicated not only with his victory over Armenia, but by the status he has attained by the developments of regional politics. First, Azerbaijani energy supplies, no matter how limited, have bought political goodwill in Europe, even in the face of the videos disseminated and condemned widely showing Azerbaijani soldiers shooting Armenian soldiers or even violating, murdering and dismembering an Armenian female soldier.

But beyond that, the ambitions of major powers in the region have made Azerbaijan an invaluable political asset.

First, Turkey’s Turanic ambitions have assigned an important role to Azerbaijan to force the corridor issue to open the floodgates for Turkey. But above all, the Israeli-Iranian conflict has given a central role to Azerbaijan, even inspiring hopes that in case Iran is fragmented, a portion of its territory may join Azerbaijan. Already, an entity titled the National Assembly of Southern Azerbaijan has been formed in Ankara, and it is planning to rule Iranian Azerbaijan after that region is annexed from the Iranian territory.

The beneficiaries of the 44-Day War were not only Turkey and Azerbaijan, but also Israel, which received broader access to Iranian territory. Before the war, Armenians controlled 140 kilometers along the Iranian border. After the war, that was reduced to 35 kilometers. Today, Israel is investing heavily in the “liberated lands” of Azerbaijan, even building a military airport.

All this is not simply within the realm of speculation when we add some political facts; very recently, the Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, were in Baku, when “coincidentally,” the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited the city. All these indications point to the fact that storm clouds are gathering over Iran as anti-Iranian forces meet for consultations.

Now that Iran’s quasi-ally, Russia, is busy in Ukraine, something may be staged in Iran, and in that case, Armenia and Karabakh will be reduced to a side show, within the framework of the larger conflagrations.

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