An Interview with the Armenian Ambassador to the Netherlands

An Interview with the Armenian Ambassador to the Netherlands

Less than a month ago, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on a ceasefire, brokered by Russia. This ceasefire has halted fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, claimed by both Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conflict over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh had been lingering for decades but erupted in September following an Azerbaijani-led offensive [1]. The Subsequent war was characterised by the use of drones and heavy artillery, which caused a large number of civilian deaths on both sides [2]. The conflict saw Azerbaijan make significant territorial gains in Nagorno-Karabakh. As of early November, more than half of the territory was firmly in the hands of Azerbaijani forces. Following the ceasefire, Russia maintains a strong presence in the region. 

Armenia’s military losses have resulted in an internal political conflict between the government, supporting the ceasefire, and opposition forces. Since the ceasefire settlement granted Azerbaijan the control over much of the territory they gained during the war, this was perceived by many within Armenia as a defeat [3]

In light of this military and diplomatic setback, much of Armenia’s hope is not vested in the international community, especially the European Union. Armenia has increased its ties with those European states that display a critical stance towards Turkey and Azerbaijan, notably France [4]. In the Netherlands, Armenia is also working hard to convince parliament and the government to take a stronger stance towards Azerbaijan. This resulted in the adoption of several parliamentary motions [5] by especially members of the Christian Democratic parties with regard to an independent investigation into breaches of human rights. In addition, parliament voted in favour of personal sanctions [6] on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

To find out more about the role of the Armenian representatives to the Netherlands, and to gain a better understanding of the Armenian perspective on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, JASON was invited to the Armenian embassy in the Hague, where we received a warm welcome from Mr. Tigran Balayan, Ambassador to the Netherlands since 2018.  We spoke to him about the conflict, the internal situation in Armenia, and his role as an Ambassador in the Netherlands. 

Sources

[1] https://www.russiamatters.org/analysis/armenia-azerbaijan-war-military-dimensions-conflict

[2] https://www.dw.com/en/nagorno-karabakh-reports-civilian-casualties-amid-shelling/a-55525542#:~:text=According%20to%20Nagorno%2DKarabakh%20officials,death%20toll%20was%20nearing%205%2C000.

[3] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54903868

[4] https://asbarez.com/198385/macron-warns-turkey-says-france-stands-by-armenia/

[5] https://www.tweedekamer.nl/kamerstukken/moties/detail?id=2020Z17419&did=2020D37654

[6] https://nos.nl/artikel/2357224-azerbeidzjaanse-president-gepikeerd-over-nederlandse-motie-tegen-zijn-land.html