Third Hand at Armenian-Azerbaijani Border: Who Backs Escalation?


During the press conference of the prime minister on the first anniversary of his election, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said, commenting on the recent tension at the border in the past days, the operative communication agreed on in Dushanbe.

In this connection, Nikol Pashinyan made a statement that allows for thought. He announced that following tension on several days at the border both the Armenian side and the Azerbaijani side present mutual accusations in bilateral interaction. According to Pashinyan, interaction continues to understand what is going on and what is the reason that tension occurs on different days.

In fact, Nikol Pashinyan states that there are mutual accusations in operative contacts, that is non-public contacts. Of course, there is the assumption of Azerbaijan’s cynicism when Baku avoids responsibility for violation of ceasefire or tension at this level too.

In its turn, this arouses questions as to the logic of the usefulness of the operative interaction aside from mutual accusations. If Baku is going to demonstrate the same destructive behavior or, to put it simply, Aliyev will continue to be cynical, there can be far-reaching issues to which the Armenian side must be ready.

On the other hand, it would not be adequate to think that the Armenian prime minister is so naïve to trust the readiness of the Azerbaijani president for war and is naively deceived by his “counteraccusation” in operative interaction. Hence, there is room for at least one presumption, that the level of operative interaction includes a conversation and exchange of such information that leads to need to understand the situation.

In particular, the point is about whether there is an invisible “third hand” which may cause tension at the border independently from the political leadership or the heads of state. Is the Armenian prime minister’s statement on the need to discuss and understand the situation in operative interaction a hint that the presence of a “third hand” could be a matter of discussion?

At the same time, queries from the former ruling system are inappropriate which target the Armenian government for the peace rhetoric and the language used to talk to Aliyev, pointing at the servicemen injured at the border as an argument.

This is inappropriate at least in the context that the same people refrained from such queries when after the Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Geneva in October 2017 Serzh Sargsyan told the Armenian community that the Azerbaijani president did not want victims at the border. Two days later one was killed by an Azerbaijani shot but currently none of those who used to manipulate the recent casualties ever asked Serzh Sargsyan whether he was sure that Aliyev did not want victims.

At the same time, not asking this question was right and asking it now is wrong because the question is deep indeed and is within the reach of the “third hand”. Apparently, there is a need to understand, in terms of a certain level of provocations, whether there can be a “third hand” which may trigger shooting and escalation at the border and address certain objectives this way.

At the end of the day, if such a question can be asked including at the level of the Russian government and Turkey, when the existence of a “third hand” was clearly stated after the Russian airplane was destroyed, why can’t be one at the Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact, considering how weak Azerbaijan and Armenia can be, unlike Turkey and Russia, compared with Turkey and Russia. After all, however, it was also for ruling out the “third hand” that official Washington put forth the Vienna agenda and the issue of installation of investigative equipment which, however, did not get a refusal from Azerbaijan, and Baku received support from the Russian side.

In this respect, during the discussion of the situation through the operative channel Yerevan must either receive responsible assurances from Baku or the issue should be withdrawn from the operative platform and taken to the Minsk Group, insisting on the Vienna agenda which will allow investigating the incidents and understanding whose hand is causing escalation at the border, to understand the purposes.

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