Armenian Paper Reviews 10 Years of Karabakh Cease-Fire Critically


Novoye Vremya, Yerevan
4 May 04

Novoye Vremya headlined “Will cease-fire become peace?” on 4 May

In several days, on 12 May it will be ten years of the cease-fire
regime in the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict.

Unfortunately during all these years of cease-fire the parties did not
make the day of final political settlement of the NKR (Nagornyy
Karabakh Republic) problem closer. Moreover, the Azerbaijani party is
often coming forward with threats to restart battle actions, in fact
refusing to search for mutually acceptable compromise in
settlement. For this reason a question raises: is cease-fire
transforming into final peace? There is not a strict answer to this
question yet.

There is not an answer because the parties have different attitudes to
the conflict. In Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh the cease-fire jubilee
is understood as a positive phenomenon that promotes peaceful
settlement of the conflict. But in Baku they have an undisguised
attitude of irritation towards so long a term of cease-fire, because
during that period they did not manage to return Nagornyy Karabakh to
the constitutional field of Azerbaijan. As for the international
intermediaries, they have the same point of view as the Armenian party
has, regarding the problem.

They had almost the same attitude towards the cease-fire ten years
ago. The intermediaries had to work hard to make the Azerbaijani party
to agree on a final cease-fire though it needed that most of all. Let
us recall the events that took place ten years ago. (Passage omitted:
In 1994, in Bishkek the cease-fire document was signed by the heads of
the delegations of Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh as well as by all the
intermediaries except Azerbaijan. But the intermediaries continued
their peacemaking efforts. Finally Heydar Aliyev agreed to accept the
document, and it was signed by the head of Azerbaijani parliament.)

How did the parties use the cease-fire? Unfortunately, they used it in
different ways. The Azerbaijani party had a goal to buy time to
strengthen its army with the hope of gaining military revenge over
Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh in future and to settle the conflict

As for the Armenian parties, understanding very well the intentions of
their neighbours, they did not forget about the rigging of their
armies as well. Along with it they were urgently aspiring to build
bridges (of trust) with Azerbaijan for the creation of a favourable
atmosphere for constructive talks on a settlement.

As for the talks, naturally they could not lead to a desirable result
without trust between the parties of the conflict. Moreover, the
Azerbaijnai party using the oil factor, started a policy of provoking
the world and regional countries to implement political and economic
isolation of Armenia. At the same time Baku did not at all take into
account the interests of the world and regional states, insisting on
setting the Armenian-Azerbaijani cooperation in the conditions of
settlement of the conflict as a necessary step for creation of an
atmosphere of mutual trust.

To all appearances Azerbaijan intends to continue a policy of the
isolation of Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh. The recent speech of Ilham
Aliyev at the PACE session in Strasbourg is evidence of this. The
Azerbaijani president in fact confirmed that his country will continue
to blockade any bilateral or regional cooperation with Armenia. As for
setting measures of trust, he cynically said that withdrawal of troops
from all the territories of Nagornyy Karabakh would become such a
measure of trust. Though it is clear to any man of sober judgment that
for such a step as withdrawal of troops, it is necessary to trust a
neighbour that does not at all need that trust.

The last condition means that Azerbaijan has not stopped fighting with
Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh and is not going to search for mutually
acceptable peace with us. Simply it temporary transferred the
bellicose actions into a sphere of policy and economy until “the best”
time comes, that is, until the moment when it will have an opportunity
to settle the conflict by means of force.

In addition, agreement on cease-fire is not an agreement on a military
conflict stopping as such. In connection with this, it should be
recalled that there was a point in the document adopted ten years ago,
according to which the parties obliged during ten days term to make an
agreement about stopping of the armed conflict on the whole. In its
turn it was necessary for settlement of all the military and technical
issues before passing to the stage of direct political settlement. But
this intention remained on a list and mainly because of the
Azerbaijani party.

The logic of the Baku authorities is quite clear. It does not allow
fixing in any document a sentence about inadmissibility of a restart
of battle. They think in Baku that such fixing will mean the final
loss of Nagornyy Karabakh. By the way, as it was mentioned above,
Azerbaijan is using the cease-fire with a purpose to gain force for a
new war. By the way, the officials of Baku do not hide such
intentions. If the intermediaries will not make Armenia refuse
supporting of Nagornyy Karabakh, in that case Azerbaijan itself will
take “its lands” back.

Naturally, Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh have their own plans on
this. In Stepanakert as well as in Yerevan they think that there is no
alternative to a peaceful settlement. Along with it, they understand
what Azerbaijan hopes to. For this reason one should always be ready
for unpredictable actions from official and unofficial Baku. Moreover,
they are sure in Stepanakert that the way to the international
recognition of the NKR is via building of really democratic statehood
in Nagornyy Karabakh. Just this is being implemented in Karabakh in
the conditions of the cease-fire regime, though slowly, with tests and