Questioning Pashinyan’s Strategy: Criticism Mounts Over Territorial Concessions to Azerbaijan

Questioning Pashinyan’s Strategy: Criticism Mounts Over Territorial Concessions to Azerbaijan

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s recent statements advocating for Armenia to cede more territory to Azerbaijan have raised significant concerns and sparked criticism from various quarters.

In his interactions with residents of Armenian border villages, Pashinyan appears to be downplaying the gravity of such concessions, emphasizing the need to avoid another conflict with Azerbaijan. However, his willingness to acquiesce to Baku’s demands without securing any reciprocal concessions for Armenia raises questions about the wisdom of his approach.

Pashinyan’s assertion that yielding to Azerbaijani demands is necessary to prevent war seems dubious to many locals, who fear the loss of their land, increased vulnerability to attacks, and diminished connectivity with the rest of Armenia. Moreover, his assertion that failure to comply would inevitably lead to conflict lacks substantiation and overlooks potential diplomatic alternatives.

The strategic importance of the contested territories cannot be overstated, with crucial infrastructure such as highways and gas pipelines at risk. Pashinyan’s proposal to reroute these facilities to “de jure” Armenian territory faces practical challenges and underscores the hasty and ill-considered nature of his decision.

Critics, including former defense minister Seyran Ohanian, warn that conceding border areas would compromise the integrity of Armenia’s defense fortifications, leaving northern provinces like Tavush and Lori more vulnerable to Azerbaijani aggression. Ohanian’s concerns highlight the broader implications of Pashinyan’s policy decisions on Armenia’s national security and territorial integrity.

Pashinyan’s previous unilateral troop withdrawals from border regions in the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war failed to prevent Azerbaijani incursions into Syunik province in 2021 and 2022, underscoring the inadequacy of his approach in safeguarding Armenia’s borders.

Overall, Pashinyan’s handling of the territorial dispute with Azerbaijan raises serious doubts about his leadership and strategic acumen, as well as his commitment to protecting Armenia’s interests and sovereignty.