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Armenia’s Recognition of Palestine: A Sign of Unity in the Caucasus and Middle East

Armenia’s Recognition of Palestine: A Move with Caucasus Calculations

In a surprising move, Armenia officially recognized Palestine as a state on June 21, citing the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and the ongoing military conflict.” However, the decision was influenced more by strategic calculations in the Caucasus region than by events in the Middle East.

The longstanding alliance between Israel and Armenia’s rival, Azerbaijan, played a significant role in Armenia’s decision. Israeli support for Azerbaijan, including arms deals and oil purchases, has bolstered Azerbaijan’s military capabilities and territorial ambitions in the Caucasus.

As Israel faced increasing international isolation due to its actions in Gaza, Armenia saw an opportunity to strike back. The head of the Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center, Richard Giragosian, pointed to Israel’s military support for Azerbaijan as a key factor driving Armenia’s pro-Palestinian stance.

The complex geopolitical dynamics in the region have shaped Armenia’s foreign policy decisions. The relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel, rooted in mutual concerns about Iran, has alienated Armenia and strained its ties with Israel. Armenia’s refusal to recognize Palestine in the past was linked to its stance on Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Second Karabakh War in 2020 further solidified the alignment of Azerbaijan with Israel and Armenia with Iran. The conflict prompted Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to acknowledge Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory, signaling a shift in Armenia’s diplomatic stance.

Armenia’s recognition of Palestine, while joining a majority of countries globally, has raised concerns about its relations with Western countries. The move comes as Armenia seeks to diversify its foreign ties and reduce dependence on Russia. However, recent recognitions of Palestine by European countries have lessened Armenia’s diplomatic vulnerability.

The Azerbaijani response to Armenia’s decision has been cautious, as Azerbaijan balances its close ties with Israel and the growing sentiment of solidarity with Palestinians. The geopolitical implications of Armenia’s move have reverberated in the region, with Turkey showing support for Armenia’s recognition of Palestine.

As Armenia navigates the complex political landscape of the Caucasus, its decision to recognize Palestine reflects a broader strategic calculus shaped by regional conflicts and alliances. The repercussions of this move will continue to unfold as Armenia seeks to redefine its place in the shifting geopolitical dynamics of the Caucasus region.

 

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