Public Perceptions in Armenia over the Settlement of Karabakh Conflict

In March 2021, CivilNet commissioned the Caucasus Research Resource Center – Armenia Foundation (CRRC Armenia) to conduct a second survey on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The first poll on the same topic was conducted between August 15 and 29, 2020 (see Settlement of the Karabakh Conflict: Results of the August Survey). 1,100 Armenian citizens aged 18 and over took part in the second poll. Overall, the survey covered four topics: the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, healthcare, energy and education. This article summarizes the results of the survey related to the Karabakh conflict.

Fieldwork began on March 12, 2021, and lasted 13 days. 1,100 interviews were conducted among the adult population of the Republic of Armenia (within the limits of 95% confidence with a permissible deviation of 3% error). The method of generating random phone numbers was used to communicate with the respondents. Out of 14,236 phone calls, 21% of the total or 38% of the successful calls ended with an interview. The interview lasted an average of 21 minutes.

According to the results of the survey, 72% of the adult population of Armenia do not believe in the coexistence of Armenians and Azeris, only 3% fully believe in it. 36% of the surveyed Armenians think that there is a risk of a new war in Karabakh, and 24% think that the war is not over. Respondents associate the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict with several key players, in particular, 35% believe that it depends on the Armenian government, 33% – on the Russian government, and 32% – on the world superpowers. Almost half of the residents of Armenia (49%) consider the activities of the Minsk Group to be also important in the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

Referring to the ways of the final settlement of the Karabakh conflict, the respondents consider the unification of Karabakh with Armenia, and the “Karabakh independence” options to be the most acceptable. As for the territories of Karabakh, 30% of the respondents think that the general goal of Armenia should be the return of all the territories that existed before the war, followed by the return of the borders of the former NKAO (22%). More than half of Armenians, 53%, have a completely negative attitude towards the opening of transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time, 59% of the respondents think that the Meghri transportation corridor, if launched, will pose a threat to the national security of Armenia.

36% of the respondents think that there is a risk of a new war in Karabakh. 18% think that the outbreak of war will take place within a year, and 13% – within five years. At the same time, almost a quarter of Armenians (24%) believe that the war is not over. The chart shows that 22% of respondents do not see the risk of a new war, and 16% find it difficult to answer.

Do you see a risk of a new war in Karabakh?

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About half of adult Armenians, 53%, trust the Russian peacekeeping forces. Moreover, 28% of the respondents answered “I fully trust,” and 25% – “I rather trust.” A quarter of respondents (25%) do not trust these forces.

At the same time, 47% of Armenians think that after the expiration of the five-year term of the November 9, 2020 trilateral document, the Russian peacekeeping forces will remain in Karabakh. 35% found it difficult to answer that question.

How much do you trust the Russian peacekeeping forces in ensuring the security of Karabakh?

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 In your opinion, will the Russian peacekeeping forces continue to operate in Karabakh after the expiration of the five-year term of the November 9 trilateral statement?

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The adult population of the Republic of Armenia connects the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict with a number of players. 35% of the respondents think that the player is the Government of the Republic of Armenia, and 33% think that further settlement depends on the Government of the Russian Federation, 32% believe it depends on the world superpowers (USA, Russia, China, the EU). The chart shows that the last two actors have gained more importance in society in the post-war period. In pre-war Armenia, 21% of respondents mentioned the “Russian government” option, while in the post-war period that number has increased to 33%. It is also interesting that according to the data of 2021, the option “Government of Azerbaijan” is mentioned by 15%, while in 2020, 31% had chosen this option.

In your opinion, the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict depends on… (Question with multiple answers. Respondents chose from the list. The answers are combined.)

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Government of the Republic of Armenia

Government of Karabakh

A separate question was asked about the role of the OSCE Minsk Group in the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict, to which 29% of Armenians answered “it is very important,” and 20% answered “rather important.” At the same time, 21% of respondents do not consider the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group important at all. It should be noted that 19% of the population found it difficult to answer. 40% of respondents believe that the OSCE Minsk Group should be greatly involved in the final settlement of the conflict.

How do you assess the importance of the Minsk Group activities in the settlement of Karabakh conflict?

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69% of respondents think that Russia should be greatly involved in the final settlement of the conflict, 49% think that France should be greatly involved in this matter, and 82% say that Turkey should not be involved in the final settlement of the conflict at all.

In your opinion, should each of the following countries or organizations be greatly involved, less involved or not at all involved in the final settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict?

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Չափահաս հայաստանցիների ճնշող մեծամասնությունը՝ 78%-ը, որպես հակամարտության հետագա կարգավորման առաջին քայլ նշում է «գերիների վերադարձը, ապա մնացածը» պատասխանը։ Այլ պատասխանները՝ ներառյալ Արցախի կարգավիճակի հստակեցումը, ներկայիս սահմանների և բնակչության անվտանգության ապահովումը ստացել են 5% և ավելի քիչ պատասխաններ (Գծապատկեր 4.7)։

The overwhelming majority of adult Armenians, 78%, cite the answer “return of the captives, then the rest” as the first step in the further settlement of the conflict. Other responses, including the clarification of the status of Karabakh, ensuring the security of the population and the current borders, received 5% and less. 

The first step in the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict should be ․․․

Referring to the ways of the final settlement of the conflict, 35% of the respondents mention the option “Karabakh’s unification with Armenia” as the first answer, while 35% chose the option of “Karabakh’s independence.” As the second preferred option, the most – 39%, received the answer to granting a special status to Karabakh within the Russian Federation.

As for the general goal of Armenia in relation to the issue of territories, 30% of adult Armenians think that it should target all the territories of pre-war Karabakh, 22% think that this goal should be the return of the former NKAO borders, while 20% think – maintaining the current borders. A quarter of respondents find it difficult or refuse to answer this question.

There are different approaches to the final settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Please tell me which of the following approaches are acceptable to you?

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In your opinion, what should be the general goal of Armenia in relation to the issue of Karabakh territories?

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As for the opening of transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is envisaged by the trilateral agreement of November 9, 2020, 53% of respondents are inclined to view it as very negative, while 11% are rather negative. Only 4% of Armenians have a completely positive attitude towards the opening of transport routes.

How do you feel about the opening of transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

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59% of the respondents mention that the operation of the Meghri corridor poses a threat to the national security of the Republic of Armenia, and 12% think that it creates more grounds for economic development. 20% of respondents found it difficult or refused to answer this question. 

I will now read two statements, please indicate which one you rather agree with.

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Taking into account the second Karabakh war, 72% of the adult population of Armenia do not believe in the coexistence of Armenians and Azeris, only 3% fully believe in this idea.

To what extent do you believe in the coexistence of Armenians and Azeris, given the Second Karabakh War?

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  • 36% of Armenians think that there is a risk of a new war in Karabakh, and 24% think that the war is not over.
  • More than half of the respondents, 53%, trust the (Russian) peacekeeping forces in ensuring security in Karabakh.
  • 35% of the respondents think that the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict depends on the Armenian Government, 33% – on the Government of the Russian Federation, and 32% – on the world superpowers.
  • Almost half of Armenians, 49%, consider the activities of the Minsk Group important in the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
  • The majority of respondents – 69%, believe that the Russian Federation should be greatly involved in the final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, followed by France (49%) and the United States (37%). In general, 40% of respondents expect the need for a wider involvement of the OSCE Minsk Group.
  • According to the overwhelming majority of Armenians (78%), the first step for the Armenian government in the further settlement of the Karabakh conflict should be the return of the captives, followed by the rest.
  • More than half of the respondents, 53%, have a completely negative attitude towards the opening of transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the region, and 59% consider that the operation of the Meghri corridor poses a threat to the national security of Armenia.
  • Taking into account the second Karabakh war, 72% of the adult population of Armenia do not believe in the coexistence of Armenians and Azeris, and only 3% fully believe in this idea.