2019 12 11
Peaceful Azerbaijan future for Nagornyj Karabakh

Baku_img“Frozen conflicts” are not an easy task to settle. Hard historical background and strong ethnic and/or religious antagonism usually become an overwhelming obstacle for its participants to reach compromise acceptable for all parties. Still any “frozen conflict” is an eternal reality. Mission is possible.

List of options    

There are several ways to solve “frozen conflicts” or – to say it in other words – finish situation. The first one is war, and this is the worst method. “Frozen conflict” means that military confrontation had already happened and there was no good result – only blood, hate and temporary decision. In this context Azerbaijan acts very responsibly in case of Nagornyj Karabakh. Baku permanently suffers from provocative actions of Armenian side with Russia behind it, but is wise enough to stay confidently calm. Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev has many times stated that his country has a full right to get back occupied territories (it is possible to speak about them in such terms because UN Security Council resolutions confirm the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and use the following wording – “The Nagorno Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan”) and is ready to do it, but Azerbaijan supports peaceful solution of the conflict. “Our largest compromise is our commitment to the peace talks. But we have to create a new situation using these possibilities. I want to reaffirm that the strengthening of the military potential is not leading to the automatic restoration of war. This is the very last option. We have to be ready for it. Every country must be ready, including our country which is in the state of war with its occupied lands. At the same time, I am convinced that we will be able to exert a strong pressure on Armenia by using all political, economic, diplomatic and regional factors. This is already felt by anyone”, – underscored the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan (<http://en.president.az/azerbaijan/karabakh/>).

The second way to get out of the “frozen conflict” is to recognize separatist region. It may really help to break a stalemate, but is appropriate only in some cases. For example, it is evident that Kosovo could hardly go back to Serbia in any form, because too many things separate these two state entities. Nagornyj Karabakh is a completely different case. The decision to let it go would mean for Azerbaijan not only a loss of 20 percent of its territory, but also – what is much more important – the betrayal of its people interests, honor and hope. Therefore Azeri government will never give up seeking to restore historical justice. As an official website of President of  Azerbaijan notes: “As an outcome of the war, more than one million of people have been subjected to the ethnic cleansing by Armenia[1]. (…) Of course, we are happy to gain the diplomatic success… But if our lands are still under occupation, it means that all these results do not enjoy the principal importance. They will be only meaningful as the Azerbaijani lands will be liberated from the occupational forces and our fellow citizens will go back to their native homes. Our compatriots must come back to the occupied lands – territories adjacent to Nagorno Karabakh and the Nagorno Karabakh itself” (<http://en.president.az/azerbaijan/karabakh/>).

Here comes the third way to solve “frozen conflict” – it is time and consecutive effort. Time aspect means that first generation situation is full of painful memory of both sides. Even if some solution seems logical, on the level of feelings and emotions it is irrationally denied. Therefore conflict parties need more time for reconciliation. But it should not be wasted.

Third way for Azerbaijan

Simple waiting is not enough, and Azerbaijan takes part in international initiative – OSCE Minsk group[2] – hoping for its help in getting back the occupied territories.

As Thomas de Waal (a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment) points out: “Nagorny Karabakh conflict is “managed.” That is not a small thing. The Minsk Process has achieved two important things over the years. First, it has established a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire along the Line of Contact, which has helped keep casualties low (if not low enough) along what is potentially one of the most dangerous military front-lines in the world. Secondly, it has come up with what is – on paper – a sophisticated and workable peace plan: a framework document to be based on the six so-called “Basic Principles,” a draft of which was lodged with the OSCE secretariat as long ago as 2007. To all appearances, the mediators and the parties have spent the past five years discussing the finer points of a two- or three-page document consisting of around 14 points. It has been serious enough to keep them at the negotiating table—even if they never actually agree to it” (<http://www.fpri.org/articles/2013/06/revamping-nagorny-karabakh-peace-process>).

But at the same time T. de Waal accentuates that “the current Minsk Group model, both at the negotiating table and on the ceasefire line, is insufficient. The Minsk Group format, which dates back to 1992, has come in for much criticism, especially in Azerbaijan, where it is perceived as an ineffective body that has failed to deliver peace”. And Baku has many reasons for such opinion (for example, Russian factor is more destructive than constructive in Minsk format, because Moscow is not a nonpartisan participant and actually supports Armenia).

Therefore Azerbaijan must act on its own, and its chance is its attractiveness. What Germany and Azerbaijan have in common? Nothing at first glance. On the other side Germany had been once separated as Azerbaijan is. Still German Democratic Republic eventually became a part of the united state, because Eastern Germans did not want to live in a country with no future any more. It means that Nagornyj Karabakh should think twice about its perspectives in the context of close partnership with Armenia.

“Unlike Armenia, Azerbaijan experienced fast GDP growth after receiving a tremendous amount of investment to its oil sector. Between 2002 and 2006, per capita GDP growth rate per year increased from 7.3% to 30.6%. The country experienced falling GDP growth between the years of 2006 and 2008 to 15.7 %. However, if we look at GDP growth between the years of 2002 and 2008, we see two times increase.[18] The rate of the poverty declined from 49% to 40% between the years of 2001 and 2004.[19] The year of 2009 sees considerable changes as poverty decreased to 11%, and the inflation rate decreased from 20.8% to 1.5% between the years of 2008 and 2009. We see that oil exports in Azerbaijan help to improve its economy and quality of life for its people” (<http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/10/13/nagorno-karabakh-conflict-armenias-victory-or-nightmare-2/>). And the growth of Azerbaijan does not stop.

But passive attractiveness is not enough. Azerbaijan should be (and apparently is) ready to practically (through investment and other similar tools) help Nagornyj Karabakh to understand that isolation together with Armenia and such patrons as Russia is worse than bright and prosperous future with Baku, oriented towards close partnership with the EU (of course if Armenia does not create any obstacles for such activity). At the same time Azerbaijan people would surely comprehend that their government is not supporting separatists and Armenia, but coherently nears the successful end of the tragic story. Building of confidence and positive perception may take a long time, but it is worth waiting.

Azerbaijan is not an enemy Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is not an empire seeking to get back its lost colony. It is a country, which wants to be united once again and is ready to make the life of all its citizens equally happy.

[1] One of the most heinous crimes against the Azerbaijani people was the massacre of hundreds of defenseless inhabitants of the town of Khojaly, in the Nagorno Karabakh region, which was taken by Armenian troops on the night of February 25-26, 1992 in what was described by the Human Rights Watch as “the largest massacre to date in the conflict”. The Armenian armed forces and mercenary units spared virtually none of those who had been unable to flee Khojaly and the surrounding area. In the words of the journalist Chingiz Mustafaev, among the dead were “dozens upon dozens of children between 2 and 15 years old, women and old people, in most cases shot at point-blank range in the head. The position of the bodies indicated that the people had been killed in cold blood, calculatedly, without any sign of a struggle or of having tried to escape”. “I had heard a lot about wars, about the cruelly of the Fascists, but the Armenians were worse, killing five and six-year-old children, killing innocent civilians”, said a French journalist, Jean-Yves Junet, who visited the scene of this mass murder of women, old people, children and defenders of Khojaly. <http://fact-info.az/ts_general/eng/aktual_en/aktual-2.htm>

[2] The Minsk Group, the activities of which have become known as the Minsk Process, spearheads the OSCE’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is co-chaired by France, the Russian Federation, and the United States. The Minsk Group’s Co-Chairs visit the region regularly to conduct high-level talks with the parties to the conflict, and hold meetings with the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and the Minsk Group members to brief them on the process. They are mandated to provide an appropriate framework for conflict resolution in the way of assuring the negotiation process; to obtain conclusion by the Parties of an agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict in order to permit the convening of the Minsk Conference; and to promote the peace process by deploying OSCE multinational peacekeeping forces (<http://www.osce.org/mg>).

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