Peace Enforcement Needed In Karabakh

by Vladimir Kazimirov

WPS Agency
May 15, 2009 Friday

Karabakh conflict settlement needs international guarantees of non-use
of force.

Saakashvili’s escapade last August made Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
settlement an even more pressing issue.

Russia and the United States became noticeably more energetic in their
conflict settlement efforts. Progress made in the Armenian-Turkish
relations indirectly draws attention to Karabakh. A meeting between
Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders Ilham Aliyev and Serj Sargsjan in
Prague, the Czech Republic, revived the hope for progress in the
Azerbaijani-Armenian talks. As a matter of fact, hoping for progress
is fine as long as we remember the old maxim: either everything is
agreed upon or nothing is.

Certain difficulties still have to be dealt with. The Azerbaijani,
Armenians, and residents of Karabakh demonstrate a remarkable
unwillingness to accept any compromises. In fact, positions
of the two involved parties on a number of issues remain polar
opposites. Karabakh, the third involved party, is out of the talks
for the time being. The Armenians insist on the people’s right
for self-determination. The Azerbaijanis put territorial integrity
above everything else. Actually, neither principle applies in this
particular situation without a number of provisos. Yerevan wants the
status of Nagorno-Karabakh finally decided on. Baku wants its lands
lost in the 1991-1992 war back. Their occupation is the Azerbaijanis’
main trump card nowadays, even tough the Armenians would have never
seized these territories in the first place were it not for Baku’s
attempt to use the regular army.

The international community left everything to the Armenians
and Azerbaijanis themselves. The OSCE is supposed to have its own
priorities which come down essentially to the prevention of another
outbreak of hostilities. Along with everything else, it is necessary
to bear in mind the grown geostrategic importance of the region in
question and its customary volatile mentality, not to mention the
traditionally dramatic relations between these two peoples. A new
war over Nagorno-Karabakh will spoil these relations for literally
centuries to come. It will have truly unpredictable consequences for
the international situation, not to mention countless casualties and
overall devastation. It follows that a war must be averted whatever
the cost.

No disrespect for the Moscow declaration intended, a legally binding
document is nevertheless a must for conflict settlement. It is
needed to cool down hotheads promoting another round of hostilities
or preventive strikes that will allegedly avert it. A non-use of
force agreement in conflict settlement will be handy. The odds are
that Baku will refuse to sign it but the very idea (even turned down)
will serve as a cold shower for some hotheads – which is particularly
important in the light of Saakashvili’s treacherous actions.

The implementation of future agreements between the involved parties
(particularly the clauses that concern withdrawal of the Armenian and
Karabakh forces from the Azerbaijani territories) requires guarantees
of non-use of force. International guarantees will deprive the
Armenians of the necessity and excuse to maintain the "security belt"
around Karabakh. International guarantees will prevent the involved
parties from doing something foolish should any difficulties with
implementation of the agreements arise.

Peace should be forced on the involved parties but forced by
political means only, without bullying. A great deal will depend on
the OSCE which has been showing an amazing lack of consistency so
far. Peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh needs a mechanism that
will allow for transition to peace-enforcement should the need arise.