Since the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war, diversification has probably been the most-used term in discussions about the future of Armenian foreign policy. It should be noted that Armenia has sought to pursue a diversified foreign policy since the early years of independence. In parallel with establishing a strategic alliance with Russia, Armenia has launched a pragmatic partnership with the EU and NATO.
Armenia signed its first IPAP (Individual Partnership Action Plan) with NATO in 2005. NATO was actively involved in the defense reforms in Armenia accelerated after 2008, including defense education and strategic defense review.
Armenia joined the EU Eastern partnership initiative in 2009. It failed to conclude the Association Agreement with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Instead, it signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement in 2017, now serving as the solid base for Armenia–EU relations.
However, the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war, Azerbaijan’s incursions into Armenia in 2021 and September 2022, and the Russia – Ukraine war made more diversification a necessity. Being bogged down in Ukraine, Russia could not fully implement all its security obligations towards Armenia. At the same time, the growing role of Azerbaijan and Turkey for Russia impacted overall Russian policy in the South Caucasus.
Azerbaijan exploited this situation quite successfully. It imposed a blockade on Nagorno Karabakh in December 2022. It launched a military offensive in September 2023, forcing the dissolution of the self-proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the displacement of the entire Armenian population of the region. However, Azerbaijan’s appetite is only growing, and now the targets of Azerbaijan are so-called enclaves and the establishment of routes that will connect Azerbaijan with Nakhijevan and Turkey via Armenia.
Yes, after establishing a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor in April 2023, Azerbaijan dropped demands for an exterritorial corridor via the Syunik province of Armenia. However, Baku still demands special guarantees for the safety of Azerbaijanis who will pass through Armenia. “Special guarantees” is quite a vague term and may be exploited by Azerbaijan in various ways.