Karabakh Cease-Fire Marks Time – Press


Sources: as listed
12 May 2004

Ten years after the signing of the Nagornyy Karabakh cease-fire
agreement, the press in Armenia and Azerbaijan wonders if there is
now any real desire to reach a final settlement.

“Ten years of cease-fire but not peace,” says Armenia’s Aravot.

Armenia failed to gain victory over Azerbaijan, the paper charges,
because Azerbaijan did not specify its defeat in a legal document.

The paper runs an interview with Grigor Babayan, a combatant in the
Karabakh war, who said Azerbaijan’s need for a cease-fire was greater
than Armenia’s, “since we were the attackers and in that sense,
we had the upper hand.”

“In terms of the war strategy,” Babayants said, “the cease-fire
was nonsense. We stopped just at the moment when we had begun to
annihilate the enemy”.

But Azeri newspapers did not agree.

“A cease-fire in favour of the enemy” said the opposition paper
Yeni Musavat.

The Azeri independent paper Uc Noqta was equally strident.

“Azerbaijan will not wait another decade”, it warned.

Diplomatic failure

According to the Azeri opposition Yeni Musavat, the Azeri authorities
are at fault for failing to capitalise on the 10-year ceasefire to
press for a political resolution.

“Karabakh has been completely lost in our foreign policy because there
has been no policy over Karabakh at all,” it alleged, “and there is
still no policy.”

Armenia’s Aravot also pondered the continuing failure to tackle
the impasse.

“Do we really need peace today?” the paper asked. “Judging from the
public mood both in Armenia and Azerbaijan, the answer is ‘no’.

The Armenian authorities had many more pressing concerns, the paper
suggested, and “the Karabakh issue ranks in 10th place in the political
life of Armenia.”

Armenia’s Ayots Ashkar said the ceasefire also seemed to have given
the world’s superpowers the opportunity to kick the conflict into
the long grass.

“In a sense,” it said, “the greatest achievement of these past years
is that the USA, which was always in a hurry to settle the conflict,
has become slow and closer to Russia’s position, which is in no hurry
at all.”

Some Azeri newspapers argued that the ceasefire had gained Azerbaijan
political credit on the international stage.

“Azerbaijan turned into a leading state in the Caucasus during the
cease-fire”, said the pro-government Yeni Azarbaycan.

The independent Palitra said the cease-fire was “a necessary step”
which “gave Azerbaijan the opportunity to raise the Karabakh problem
to the international level.”

” It also gave us the opportunity to find Azerbaijan’s supporters among
international organizations and foreign states,” the paper said, “and
an excellent chance to present Azerbaijan as a peace-loving state.”