Despite presidential elections in all three South Caucasian nations this year, including Monday’s election in Armenia, campaign season is not likely to bring any change to the ongoing tension between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan, nor bring a permanent solution to the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Monday’s election is expected to result in reelection for Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan (Սերժ Սարգսյան) and, likewise, the upcoming Azerbaijani election is expected to result in reelection for its own president Ilham Aliyev, in each case without much in the way of robust opposition.
That means that not only are Azeri-Armenian relations unlikely to change anytime soon, it also means that the soured relationship between the two former Soviet republics is unlikely to feature prominently as a campaign issue, even though Karabakh Armenians gathered last week in the Karabakh capital of Stepanakert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its independence movement.
As the region pushes for closer ties to Europe — Georgia is ardently pursuing not only European Union membership, but membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, even under newly elected prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili (ბიძინა ივანიშვილი), and Baku hosted one of the more exotic Eurovision contests in 2012 after the Azerbaijani Ell and Nikki won the previous year’s contest — the tensions threaten to bring a long-simmering conflict to Europe’s backdoor.
Although the two countries, together with Georgia, once formed the Transcaucasian Republic for three short-lived months in 1918, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at odds for the past 25 years following the emergence of the independence movement of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, located, since a 1936 demarcation of the three Soviet republics, in the South Caucasus in the western part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The initial Soviet decision to merge Karabakh into the Azerbaijan SSR goes back to the earliest days of Josef Stalin’s Soviet regime and resulted from Stalin’s strategic considerations designed to bring Bolshevism to Turkey. Continue reading Armenian, Azerbaijani elections unlikely to bring bilateral peace