Armenia And Greece Bolster Military Alliance Amid Persistent Azerbaijani Focus – OpEd


France shaping anti-Azerbaijani alliance

In the wake of its departure from Russia’s security umbrella, Armenia appears to be charting a new course by actively seeking military cooperation with European nations. While France stands as the sole EU member officially supplying arms to Armenia, undisclosed partnerships hint at a broader strategic shift.

In the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s successful liberation of Karabakh, Armenia swiftly pivoted towards forging military ties with France, while its longstanding collaboration with Greece predates the 44-day war of 2020.

Traditionally seen as Armenia’s secondary military ally after Russia, Greece has witnessed a surge in military cooperation with Armenia since Nikol Pashinyan’s ascent to power in 2018, culminating in significant agreements to deepen their military relations.

In the post-Karabakh era, Armenian-Greek military collaboration gained momentum, with Greek Cyprus joining the alliance in 2023. The recent trilateral projects involving Yerevan, Athens, and Nicosia underscore a concerted effort to enhance military capabilities through joint drills and Special Forces training.

Amidst these developments, Armenia has intensified its military cooperation with Greece, with Defense Minister Nikolaos Dendias’ visit to Yerevan signaling a new phase in bilateral discussions.

“We discussed matters concerning military-technical cooperation, emphasizing the significance of revitalizing such cooperation following the ratification of the agreement between the governments of Armenia and Greece, signed during my visit to Greece in December 2023,” stated Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan after the talks on March 4.

While details of the recent military-technical agreement remain undisclosed, it is presumed to encompass various areas such as personnel training, tactical exercises, and expertise exchange, reflecting Armenia’s urgent need to bolster its military capabilities in the aftermath of the war with Azerbaijan.

Looking beyond bilateral engagements, Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Dendias hinted at the possibility of joint efforts with France and India to provide military assistance to Armenia, suggesting the potential for a multilateral military cooperation involving Armenia, France, Greece, Cyprus, and India.

The prospect of a quadrilateral military alliance between Armenia, Greece, France, and India is speculative but not implausible. Shared concerns regarding regional stability and security, particularly in light of Turkey’s expanding influence, offer fertile ground for deeper collaboration among these nations.

However, the intensification of such cooperation depends on various factors, including future developments in the South Caucasus and Eurasia. As Armenia navigates its evolving strategic landscape, the trajectory of its military alliances with France, Greece, and potentially India will continue to shape the region’s geopolitical dynamics in the years to come.

Shaping strategic alliance

The recent flurry of diplomatic engagements between Armenia, France, and Greece has sparked speculation about the emergence of a strategic alliance in the region. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s visits to France and Greece, followed by reciprocal visits from their defense ministers and signing peace and military agreements, signal a concerted effort to deepen bilateral relations.

These developments suggest a deliberate pattern of diplomatic and military cooperation between Armenia and its partners. The swift conclusion of peace and military agreements following these visits underscores a shared commitment to enhancing cooperation in both diplomatic and defense realms, driven by mutual strategic interests and regional security concerns.

Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, recently met in Yerevan to discuss military cooperation between the two countries. Their discussions encompassed the implementation of existing agreements and identified new areas for collaboration, reflecting a commitment to strengthening defense ties.

Minister Papikyan underscored the significance of Greece’s support in Armenia’s ongoing defense reforms, emphasizing the importance of revitalizing military-technical cooperation following the recent bilateral agreement signed during his visit to Greece.

The series of high-level visits between Armenia and Greece symbolizes the deepening political relations between the two countries, grounded in friendship, mutual assistance, shared values, and common approaches. The discussions between the defense ministers underscore the importance of defense cooperation in further enhancing these relations, encompassing both traditional aspects and new domains established through bilateral agreements.

Armenia’s dilemma amidst strategic crossroads

Amidst the complex geopolitical landscape of the South Caucasus, Armenia finds itself caught between the interests of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran, facing the daunting challenge of balancing regional alliances while safeguarding its own sovereignty.

Former Karabakh separatist leader Samvel Babayan highlights the precarious situation, warning of inevitable conflict should Armenia fail to address the contentious issue of the Zangazur Corridor. Babayan proposes two divergent paths for Armenia’s future, each fraught with its own set of challenges and implications.

The first path entails opening the highway connecting Azerbaijan with Nakhchivan through Zangazur (Megri), thereby securing regional transport communications while maintaining Armenian sovereignty over the corridor. However, this move risks antagonizing Iran, which views the corridor as a potential threat to its influence over Azerbaijan.

Alternatively, Armenia could uphold its alliance with Iran by refraining from opening the Megri corridor, thereby averting Tehran’s ire but potentially alienating Azerbaijan and jeopardizing regional stability. Babayan warns that Armenia’s current trajectory, exemplified by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Peaceful Crossroads project, could escalate tensions and pave the way for conflict.

Pashinyan’s project, which proposes opening transport communications between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan under Armenian control, has failed to garner regional support, with Russia and Turkey expressing reservations. The project’s perceived inadequacy to replace the Zangazur Corridor underscores the complex dynamics at play.

He underscores the ominous signs of impending conflict, citing Turkey’s ambitious infrastructure projects linking Nakhchivan with Azerbaijan and Russia, and Azerbaijan’s military build-up alongside Armenia’s reluctance to open the Megri corridor.

As tensions escalate, Babayan urges Armenia to navigate a delicate balance between regional powers, cautioning against the path of confrontation that could lead to a devastating regional war involving Iran and Russia. Armenia’s strategic decisions in the coming months will be pivotal in shaping the region’s geopolitical landscape and determining its own future amidst the crossroads of conflict and diplomacy.

Greece’s military alliance vs Athens-Baku gas deal

Amidst swirling geopolitical manoeuvres and burgeoning energy strategies, Greece, Cyprus, and France have raised eyebrows in Azerbaijan by bolstering military ties with Armenia, setting the stage for a potential regional showdown amidst Athens’ gas purchase plans.

The recent statements by Greek Minister of National Defence Nikos Dandias have left observers baffled, as he paid homage to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, cementing promises of enduring friendship between Greece and Armenia. Dandias’ adornment with Armenia’s Order of Friendship and symbolic gestures at the Eternal Flame monument add fuel to the geopolitical fire.

This unexpected display of camaraderie comes mere months after Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov engaged in serious discussions with Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis, focusing on pivotal projects like Europe’s strategic energy partnership and the Southern Gas Corridor. The glaring contradiction between Greece’s professed commitment to bilateral relations with Azerbaijan and its overt allegiance to Armenia, a nation that has occupied Azerbaijani territory for three decades, raises serious questions about Greece’s diplomatic calculus.

The specter of a French-led coalition in the South Caucasus

During his visit to Armenia, Minister Dandias touted the success of trilateral defense cooperation between Armenia, Greece, and Cyprus, hinting at the possibility of broader alliances with France and India. This apparent alignment with France’s interests underscores Greece’s role as a pawn in a larger geopolitical game, with the formation of an anti-Azerbaijani coalition gathering momentum.

The burgeoning military cooperation between Greece, Cyprus, and Armenia, including joint exercises and strategic manoeuvres, is facilitated at the behest of France, which seeks to assert its influence in the region. However, Greece’s ambitions to become a gas hub along the Southern Gas Corridor, facilitating the supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe, add a layer of complexity to the unfolding geopolitical chessboard.

As tensions escalate, Azerbaijan’s patience wears thin, with concerns mounting over Greece’s duplicitous foreign policy and its implications for bilateral relations. Azerbaijan’s reluctance to recognize Northern Cyprus as an independent state and its strategic flexibility in redirecting pipelines bypassing Greek territory signals a potential shift in energy dynamics that could marginalize Greece’s role in the Southern Gas Corridor.

In their pursuit of geopolitical manoeuvring, Greece and France risk alienating Azerbaijan and jeopardizing their relations with the European Union. Azerbaijan’s resolve to assert its interests and disdain for duplicity in foreign policy highlights the perils of playing a double game in international affairs.

As Greece grapples with the consequences of its strategic alignment with Armenia, the broader implications for regional stability and energy security remain uncertain. The evolving geopolitical landscape demands a delicate balance of interests and a nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics at play.


Fuad Muxtar-Agbabali

Fuad Muxtar-Agbabali is a distinguished journalist from Azerbaijan and has authored many white papers on International Affairs and political analysis focused in the regions of Europe and Southern Caucasus.

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