Karabakh: Deterioration Inevitable

KARABAKH: DETERIORATION INEVITABLE;
by Aleksei Matveyev

WPS Agency
DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia)
March 6, 2009 Friday
Russia

Confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot help affecting
the talks

RUSSIA WILL DISAGREE WITH DEPLOYMENT OF CONTINGENTS FORM THE THIRD
COUNTRIES IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH; Nagorno-Karabakh: nothing to show for
all the peace efforts.

The situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict area remains
problematic. Clashes and skirmishes along the line of contact between
the armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan are reported on
a daily basis. The authorities in Baku on the one hand and Yerevan
and Stepanakert on the other pin the blame on each other.

That skirmishes in the conflict area continue is not exactly surprising
because Armenia and Azerbaijan have never stopped boosting their
military potentials. When bullets fly, political agreements become
even more difficult to reach.

A meeting in Davos in the last days of January failed to bring
presidents Serj Sargsjan (Armenia) and Ilham Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
any closer to signing of the final document that would settle the
conflict. Commenting on the negotiations, Sargsjan said Armenia
knew better than forsake the national idea for issues of secondary
importance. Aliyev in his turn reiterated that Azerbaijan would never
grant Nagorno-Karabakh independence and sovereignty.

OSCE Minsk Group chairmen Yuri Merzlyakov (Russia), Bernard Fassier
(France), and Matthew Bryza (United States) got the floor after
the presidents. They said final principles of settlement would
have to be worked out yet on the basis of the proposals formulated
during the conference of OSCE foreign ministers in Madrid, Spain,
in November 2007.

The OSCE is not the only intermediary going out of its way to settle
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia has been doing all it can to
solve the problem too. President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and his
Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts met in Moscow on November 2,
2008, and signed the so-called Karabakh Conflict Peaceful Settlement
Declaration.

Turkey is trying to edge in as an intermediary too. On February 11,
the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet featured a piece titled Karabakh Plan
claiming that Armenia and Azerbaijan had given partial consent to
some key issues of settlement.

According to the newspaper, settlement of the conflict should include
several phases. Return to Azerbaijan of control over several districts
(Fizuli, Agdam, Jabrail, Kubatly, Zangelan) will constitute the initial
phase. Azerbaijani population will return to these territories during
the second phase. An interim administration will be established in
Nagorno-Karabakh after that. Azerbaijan will open all roads to the
enclave. Finally, the Turkish plan stipulates the deployment of an
international contingent of peacekeepers in the region in the final
phase. Also importantly, this contingent is not supposed to include
representatives of the warring sides or countries involved in the
negotiations.

These initiatives have enemies in Armenia and Azerbaijan
alike. Position of Russia is to be taken into account too. It is
unlikely that Moscow will want the region policed by contingents from
the third countries. This development amounting to foreign military
presence in the Caucasus cannot please Russia.

In other words, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement remains in a
blind alley. Attempts to solve the problem by sheer strength of arms
cannot be ruled out.

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