The Russian consulate in Khankendi, the nomination of the archbishop to the post of Pashinyan, calls for peace...

Russia is preparing to establish a consulate in Khankendi, a move seen as a significant development in the geopolitics of the South Caucasus. This announcement was made by Grigory Karasin, the head of the Committee on International Relations of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, during a meeting with Samad Seyidov, the chairman of the Committee on International and Interparliamentary Relations of Azerbaijan’s Milli Majlis, on May 27.

"Among our bilateral issues, I would like to mention the opening of the Consulate General in Khankendi. We plan to start preparatory work for this in the near future and count on your support," Karasin stated. He emphasized the strategic importance of this move, aiming to eliminate the disparity in consular presence between the two nations. “This will allow us to eliminate the disparity in the mutual consular presence,” he added, with a target to open the consulate in 2024.

This development comes at a time of significant political unrest in Armenia. On May 26, the Tavush for the Motherland protest movement held a rally in Yerevan, led by Archbishop of the Tavush diocese Bagrat Galstyan, who called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The protesters nominated Archbishop Galstyan as a candidate for the prime minister’s post.

In parallel, Prime Minister Pashinyan has been advocating for a peace agreement with Azerbaijan, expressing optimism that such an agreement could be imminent. During a recent interaction with local journalists, Pashinyan stated, "Previously, the parties agreed on common principles in Prague and Brussels, but now these principles need to be repeated on paper. I see an opportunity to complete this work quickly." He added that the specifics of signing the agreement, such as the time and place, would be discussed once the preparatory work is completed.

Political commentator Ilham Ismail discussed these developments in the program "Difficult Question," suggesting that Russia’s move to open a consulate in Khankendi is a strategic effort to maintain its influence in the region post-withdrawal of the RMK from Karabakh. "Russia wants to demonstrate its presence in the region to everyone in one form or another," Ismail noted. This move, he added, also sends a message to Armenia, which has been distancing itself from Russia.

Ismail highlighted the potential intelligence-gathering role of diplomatic missions, indicating that Russia’s urgency to open the consulate by 2024 might be driven by Turkey’s similar intentions. "Knowing that Turkey intends to open its Consulate General in Karabakh, Russia wants to get ahead of it. But Azerbaijan also has its own interests," he explained. He suggested that Azerbaijan might prioritize the opening of Turkey’s consulate before consenting to Russia’s.

Regarding the Tavush for the Motherland movement, Ismail was skeptical about its long-term impact. "The movement is running out of steam," he commented, pointing out that the movement’s activities are increasingly seen as riots rather than legitimate protests. He attributed this to the movement’s limited support base and its perceived ties to former Armenian leaders Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan.

As for the peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ismail did not rule out the possibility of it being signed soon. He speculated that the agreement might be finalized in early September in a neutral country, potentially Kazakhstan or Georgia, emphasizing the fluid nature of the ongoing negotiations.


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