Political developments in Armenia ‘create new dynamics’ in Karabakh peace talks – Dennis Sammut

10:54 • 17.05.18

A key problem in the current developments around Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) is that they are too much focused on the form and process without enough attention to substance, according to Dennis Sammut, Executive Director of LINKS (Dialogue, Analysis and Research) and Member of the European Policy Center.

In an interview with Tert.am, the expert highlighted the existing real chances of flexibility in the peace talks as real opportunity for future progress. He also commented upon Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s recent statement insisting on Artsakh’s return to the negotiating table. Mr Sammut said he finds any changes in he format indispensable if they assist in the prospect for peace.

Mr Sammut, what is opinion on Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

The exciting developments in Armenia in the last weeks have an impact on the whole region, and certainly create a new dynamic in the process of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They introduce some new opportunities, but also one or two additional risks. Armenia’s leaders since 1998 have hailed from Nagorno-Karabakh, and had their original political base there. This made it impossible for anyone to accuse them of selling out Karabakh in the negotiations. Pashinyan is well aware he does not have this luxury, and that his opponents will not hesitate to use the Karabakh issue against him if he gives them the chance.

His main immediate objective is to tackle the domestic agenda – this is what most people out on the streets were protesting about, which is why Pashinyan emphasises continuity as regards foreign policy, security, and Karabakh. Of course everyone is expecting early elections in Armenia sometime later this year. At this point Pashinyan will need to spell out his policy clearly on these issues too, but for the next few months the emphasis as regards the Karabakh issue is likely to be on continuity.

Mr Pashinyan stressed at his press conference in Artsakh the importance of investing every possible effort towards returning Artsakh to the negotiating table. Do you think it is possible to realize this idea in the visible future? And do you expect any consequences in case the Armenian side insists on its position?

One of the problems around the process of the Karabakh conflict resolution is that there is too much emphasis on form and process, and not enough on substance. The issue of the representation of the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh in the discussions is a question of when, not if. Of course you need to be very naïve to believe that anyone will try to impose a solution for Karabakh that does not have the support of the people of Karabakh, Armenians and Azerbaijanis.

The present negotiating format is one that has been agreed between the sides in the conflict and the international community, therefore it can only be changed if and when everyone agrees. I am a great believer in the virtue of flexibility in negotiations. Armenia wants to change something, and probably Azerbaijan wants to change something too. If it helps the prospect for peace, mutually agreed changes to the format can and should happen.

At this point I do not think Armenia under Pashinyan will insist on the inclusion of Stepanakert in the negotiations to the extent that it will pull out of the discussions if this does not happen. As I said earlier, for the next months at least, Pashinyan will promote continuity in this sphere.


Nikol Pashinyan promised to rely on new approaches in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process. Do you think there is any need for such new approaches in this process? 

One needs to see what these new approaches will be. Of course there is plenty of scope for new approaches, even without changing the core positions. If the sides are true to their words, and really want a peaceful solution, they know there are some things that need to be done: confidence-building measures – military and civilian; less hostile rhetoric; better people to people contacts; stricter compliance with the cease fire; and a more robust process of negotiations, including expanding the format and sticking to a tighter time table. All these things can happen, and should start happening now – slowly at first, but gradually expanding as the negotiations start giving results.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov recently expressed his country’s readiness to return to active negotiations within the shortest possible timeframes.  The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are scheduling a meeting with the Armenia’s new leadership in June.  What are your predictions and expectations from the upcoming discussions between mediators and the parties?

There will be a new team on the Armenian side in the negotiations, for the first time in ten years. This changes the dynamic of the discussions to a point. Personal chemistry matters to some extent. Azerbaijan was hoping that by now the political processes in Armenia surrounding the constitutional transition would have been concluded so that the negotiations could restart in earnest, but now the situation is unlikely to settle down before the end of the year. This will create some frustration in Baku. A meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan should take place as soon as possible – but of course it has to be well prepared, but I am sure the two foreign ministers will meet soon. The channels of communication must remain open.


Hripsime Hovhannisyan


LATEST NEWSAll Today news

17:38 • 21/09

US-Armenian artist Tigran Tsitoghdzyan opens exhibition in Istanbul

17:03 • 21/09

Armenia must declare 'last ever amnesty', revising life-termers’ cases – opinion  

16:07 • 21/09

Aguero extends Man City deal until 2021

15:54 • 21/09

Queen Elizabeth put Meghan Markle through fertility tests before wedding with Prince Harry

15:45 • 21/09

Armenia celebrating independence in exceptional conditions today  – Robert Kocharyan

15:21 • 21/09

Japanese probe about to drop hopping robots onto asteroid Ryugu

15:09 • 21/09

We proved that dreams can come true – President Sarkissian congratulates Armenians on independence day  

14:51 • 21/09

Inside Anthony Bourdain's $3.7m apartment as his estranged wife puts it on the market three months after the celebrity chef took his own life

14:32 • 21/09

Tbilisi TV tower features Armenian tricolor (video)

14:17 • 21/09

Artsakh President congratulates Armenian PM on independence anniversary

14:04 • 21/09

Independence day marked at Yerablur pantheon (photos)

13:25 • 21/09

Theresa May snubbed by Merkel as German leader ignores UK PM at Salzburg summit

12:30 • 21/09

Russians suspected of Skripal poisoning previously detained in The Netherlands — Bellingcat

12:07 • 21/09

Zhamanak: CSTO sending clear messages to Armenia

11:13 • 21/09

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang dies

10:51 • 21/09

Armenia celebrates 27th anniversary of independence today

09:29 • 21/09

US imposes sanctions on China over Russian weapons purchase

18:10 • 20/09

Azerbaijan continues crackdown on civil society – Human Rights Watch

17:57 • 20/09

Cary Fukunaga to direct next James Bond movie

17:47 • 20/09

President Sarkissian visits Chinese Embassy in Yerevan

17:30 • 20/09

Zurich Protocols will 'never return' to Turkey's politcal agenda

16:55 • 20/09

European court orders Armenian government to pay €20,600 over violations in March 1 criminal case

16:50 • 20/09

No hasty plans to arrange Pashinyan-Trump meeting, says foreign minister

12:25 • 20/09

Ucom to offer more affordable roaming rate to subscribers visiting Russia

11:31 • 20/09

Adam Schiff and 8 US lawmakers urge Gov Brown to sign Turkey divestment bill

11:08 • 20/09

$60m worth digital currencies stolen from Japanese exchange

09:47 • 20/09

Zhoghovurd: Catholicos of All Armenians to step down 'for health reasons'  

09:28 • 20/09

US 'ready' to restart talks with North Korea

09:11 • 20/09

Japan foreign minister planning to discuss peace treaty with Russia’s Lavrov

18:13 • 19/09

Contract serviceman fatally wounded in Armenia’s north-east

17:50 • 19/09

Dunja Mijatović: Legal incapacity of individuals with disabilities 'challenge to their rights' in Armenia

16:18 • 19/09

IBM launches AI bias detector

15:52 • 19/09

Kocharyan explains reasons behind ‘political comeback’

15:08 • 19/09

Azerbaijan, Russia conduct joint drills in Caspian Sea

13:07 • 19/09

The Weeknd sued 'for at least $5m' for 'stealing' his hit song Starboy from another artist

12:36 • 19/09

EU 'ready to improve' Irish border deal

12:09 • 19/09

Trump hails 'exciting' agreements by North Korean leader

12:05 • 19/09

Turkish workers arrested after Istanbul airport protests  

11:30 • 19/09

Trump considers request for US military base in Poland

11:18 • 19/09

Jessica Simpson expecting third baby

11:06 • 19/09

Facebook accused of gender discrimination in job adss

10:34 • 19/09

We are ready for negotiations but must be prepared for war, prime minister says in Artsakh

09:24 • 19/09

Pentagon lists Russia, China as biggest threats to US

09:13 • 19/09

North and South Koreas ‘commit to era of no wars’

17:56 • 18/09

Armenian khachkar unveiled in Polish city

17:05 • 18/09

Armenian parliament official briefs PACE committee on Azerbaijani aggression against Armenian civilian settlements

16:55 • 18/09

Ucom doubles inclusions of uDaily prepay mobile internet service

16:35 • 18/09

Former Liverpool defender forced to retire with motor neurone disease just months after marrying England women's captain 

16:22 • 18/09

Armenia, China sign deal to facilitate air communication

15:40 • 18/09

Trump orders release of classified documents in Russia probe

15:24 • 18/09

Armenian government delegation conducts visit to Nagorno-Karabakh

14:51 • 18/09

Central Bank chief re-elected president of interstate bank council

14:40 • 18/09

Armenian defense minister meets with FAST foundation president

14:08 • 18/09

NASA's new spacecraft captures photo of more than a dozen celestial objects known to host exoplanets in stunning 'first light' image

13:45 • 18/09

Pakistan's austerity car auction falls short, new PM commutes by helicopter

13:25 • 18/09

Armenian family’s 400-year-old musical secret still rings true

13:17 • 18/09

Russia blames Israel for downing of plane, vows retaliation

12:45 • 18/09

Chief architect of Yerevan sacked

12:25 • 18/09

Republic Square selected as 'hot spot' of independence day events to symbolize success in ‘Velvet Revolution’

11:26 • 18/09

Libarman’s visit to Baku signals strengthening Azerbaijani-Israeli relations

11:09 • 18/09

Zhoghovurd: OSCE to turn closer spotlight on situation along Karabakh frontline

10:35 • 18/09

Russian military plane disappears during Israeli strikes on Latakia with 14 people on board

10:13 • 18/09

Zhamanak: Putin planning meeting with former presidents in Yerevan

09:56 • 18/09

SpaceX unveils first Moon Loop tourist

09:51 • 18/09

Sean Penn Calls #MeToo Movement ‘Receptacle of the Salacious’

09:44 • 18/09

Florence leaves 'monumental disaster' for North Carolina

09:31 • 18/09

Magnitude 1.9 earthquake hits Armenia’s south

09:13 • 18/09

SpaceX signs first private moon customer

09:12 • 18/09

Russia and Turkey agree to create buffer zone in Syria's Idlib

19:40 • 17/09

Facts, figures, and Results: Zvartnots International Airport reports details on its activity and not օnly

17:53 • 17/09

French actor Gerard Depardieu 'wants' to acquire Turkish citizenship

17:35 • 17/09

New head of OSCE Mission to Skopje takes office

17:23 • 17/09

Ukraine's Poroshenko terminates Treaty of Friendship with Russia

16:38 • 17/09

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 reportedly catches fire in user’s purse  

16:05 • 17/09

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Nagorno-Karabakh is not just conflict for Armenia

15:17 • 17/09

Turkish Coast Guard rescues 16 migrants as boat capsizes

14:46 • 17/09

Yerevan hosts 11th Armrobotics Championship

12:46 • 17/09

Britain’s oldest person reveals secret of longevity  

12:33 • 17/09

Arthur Abraham takes part in 45th BMW Berlin Marathon

12:02 • 17/09

Penelope Cruz dazzles in elegant one-shoulder gown as she joins husband Javier Bardem for LA screening of Loving Pablo

11:34 • 17/09

Armenian, Artsakh foreign ministers meet in Stepanakert

11:10 • 17/09

Turkey to increase troops in Turkish Cyprus

10:43 • 17/09

Elon Musk says Tesla now in 'delivery logistics hell'

10:14 • 17/09

Azerbaijan's armed forces open fire on Armenia’s south from Nakhicehvan

09:51 • 17/09

As Trump and Mattis clash in public, officials question how long he'll last at the Pentagon

09:37 • 17/09

It's not novichok, say police: 'Russian' couple fall ill at Salisbury restaurant with nerve-agent symptoms

09:15 • 17/09

New doubts emerge about US-led sanctions on North Korea

14:49 • 15/09

No more favoritism or privileged classes in Armenia - Pashinyan's interview with Le Monde

14:02 • 15/09

Kocharyan’s statements reflect level of his political understanding – Nikol Pashinyan

13:12 • 15/09

International Figure Skating Classic 2018: Armenia’s Slavik Hayrapetyan ranks fifth (video)

12:48 • 15/09

Erdogan travels to Baku  

12:07 • 15/09

Russian Orthodox church cuts ties with Constantinople over Ukraine

11:23 • 15/09

Zhamanak: Gyumri mayor 'to quit' over 'failure to work effectively' with Pashinyan's cabinet

10:49 • 15/09

Turkey demands release of 16-year-old boy held in Armenia

09:50 • 15/09

Jean-Claude Van Damme arrives in Armenia  

09:42 • 15/09

Nebraska doctor to face execution for killing four people

09:32 • 15/09

Azerbaijan shells border village in Armenia’s Tavush region

17:43 • 14/09

Jean-Claude Van Damme to visit Armenia

17:37 • 14/09

Apple criticized for new iPhones 'too big for women to hold'

16:27 • 14/09

French, Armenian leaders start working meeting in Paris