"2023 was a year of unjustified expectations for Armenia." David Stepanyan

Radar Armenia summarized 2023 with political scientist Davit Stepanyan.

- Summarizing 2023, what kind of year was it for Armenia?

- In general, 2023 was a year of expectations for Armenia. I would say unjustified expectations. We never had peace, and the agreement with Azerbaijan was signed at the end of the year.

- What effect did geopolitical developments have on regulating Armenian-Azerbaijani relations?

- Regarding geopolitical developments, it had a very negative impact. Unfortunately, according to the results of the elections in Turkey, the opposition led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu did not win the presidential elections. Turkey continues to remain Erdoganist, continues to protect Azerbaijan, and, first of all, the Aliyev regime, which has hurt the region and, especially, Armenia.

The US, in general, has a positive effect on the conflict by putting pressure on Aliyev. We see that this pressure resulted in the return of the captives, but nothing more was obtained. The EU does the same. Russia continues to play a destructive role. It is an ally of Azerbaijan and exerts pressure on Armenia.

- Considering the processes in 2023 and the upcoming presidential elections in Russia, the USA, and Azerbaijan, what geopolitical developments will we witness in 2024?

- Elections in Russia will not impact 2024 because everything is obvious. Putin will be re-elected. Once again, numbers will be drawn. Azerbaijan will remain the same because Aliyev called the special election to delay the peace agreement and not sign it. Within two months, it will become clear how much Aliyev will succeed. The US presidential elections are crucial. Democrats and Republicans in the USA have entered the pre-election phase, which, for example, has a terrible effect on Ukraine. For this reason, Ukraine cannot receive another package of financial aid from the USA. I hope that in the USA in 2024, the Democrats will win in November so that the pressure on Azerbaijan today will continue. If the Republicans win, there may not be that pressure because Trump supports the isolationism policy. However, the US is entering the pre-election phase, and 2024 will be an election year, which is already bad for us because, in the US, they may need to follow the events with such great attention, which is today.

- The peace treaty signing between Armenia and Azerbaijan did not occur this year either. What developments can we expect in 2024?

- The peace agreement can be signed in 2024, before the extraordinary elections in Azerbaijan. If Aliyev gets the opportunity to delay until the deal is signed by February 7 and early elections are held in Azerbaijan, the situation will become more complex. After the elections, there is quite a bit of time left to drag him out, about eight months, until the presidential elections in the USA. It should be noted that there will be elections in the EU as well. The European Parliament will be elected, and, by and large, Brussels, the EU, and the European bureaucracy will be busy with those elections. Unfortunately, it turned out that 2024 will be an election year. The probability is relatively low that it will be possible to sign a peace agreement in 2024 after the elections in Azerbaijan. Let's wait and see; the likelihood of signing the contract is 50-50, including in 2024.

Hayk Magoyan