May 24, 2023 - 10:53 AMT
Freedom House draws parallels between Armenian and Ukrainian situations

The Russian invasion of Ukraine alerted the entire world to the existential threat that a hardening dictatorship can pose to neighboring states with democratic aspirations. But a similar scenario is unfolding in the Caucasus, and receiving far less attention, Freedom House said in its annual Nations in Transit report.

In 2020, Azerbaijan’s military captured parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. And afterwards the regime of President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan “continued to pursue its territorial ambitions by military means. It launched a major incursion into the Republic of Armenia in 2022, and in early 2023 it further isolated the ethnic Armenians who remained in Nagorno-Karabakh by blocking a crucial road link under the guise of ‘environmental protests’.”

“Moscow’s seizure of Ukrainian territory in 2014 and 2022 resulted in a dramatic loss of rights and physical safety for residents, and there are abundant indications that an expansion of Baku’s control over Nagorno-Karabakh and parts of Armenia would eliminate the freedoms and security of local people in much the same way,” Freedom House said.

“Democratic governments must not ignore the danger. They should take every possible step to bolster Armenia’s democracy and ensure the protection of all those living under or fleeing Azerbaijani rule or occupation.”