BAKU: Karabakh Resolution ‘Probably Requires Coercion’


July 6, 2011

Wed 06 July 2011 05:55 GMT | 1:55 Local Time

News.Az interviews Alexander Karavayev, deputy general director of
Moscow State University’s Information and Analytical Centre.

President Dmitriy Medvedev is said to be very disappointed
that no document on the Basic Principles for a settlement of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was signed by the Armenian and Azerbaijani
presidents during their meeting in Kazan. May he stop his personal
mediation as a result?

As a means of pressure on the parties, this threat is quite acceptable
and stems from the need to mobilize participants in the negotiations.

Medvedev really ended up in a stupid situation. It seems there were
nine meetings in this format. None of the other post-Soviet conflicts
has attracted so much effort from the Russian president.

So, it is natural that Moscow will now look for ways to “put pressure”
on the sides. However, in my opinion, the problem is not only about
uncompromising Yerevan and Baku. Moscow, unfortunately, cannot
ensure the necessary tough preparation of agreements and monitor the
implementation of the preliminary stages.

This requires not only an arbiter, but an organizer and a leader
able to impose ideas and force their realization. The call to end the
debate on the Karabakh topic and get to the point should be addressed
to the Russian presidential administration.

Do you think that the conflicting parties can voluntarily reach a
peace agreement?

In principle , it is likely that Armenian and Azerbaijani society will
become mature enough after 30 or 40 years to find a civilized solution
to this problem. But this requires progressive social development in
the Caucasus region, especially in Armenia and in Azerbaijan.

This kind of optimism persists in relation to Azerbaijan. But I
cannot say this in respect of Armenia. It is technically possible to
organize high level, multi-cultural social communication. It can even
be maintained for decades, until it becomes organic. So it was in
the Caucasus till Soviet modernization, especially after World War II.

Therefore, this model is possible.

But the problem is that this time will not come by itself. This is
not a summer that will come round in any case. Such an environment
needs to be developed.

And a similar question: can Armenia voluntarily return the land
that it seized by force? Can the country’s leaders, who personally
participated in this occupation, do this?

Such a voluntary decision for the government and society are certainly
different parts of the problem. Changes in society can be talked
about in the context of historical development proceeding from the
fact that this particular process is not always controlled. The impact
on power is a more predictable area.

You can create conditions under which the Armenian authorities will
take this step voluntarily. And they will, respectively, have to
“push” this decision as necessary in their society.

Actually, this method will help to adopt a peaceful solution. Even if
we accept the need to wait decades until the moment the Armenian and
Azerbaijani societies become mature enough for this voluntary action,
even in this case, the first step is up to the representatives of
the Armenian government.

If you rely on public opinion, more than one generation can
be replaced, and things will remain the same. Therefore, the
voluntary peaceful resolution of the Karabakh problem depends on the
voluntary decisions of a strong government in Yerevan, ready to make
concessions. Only a reformer is capable of this.

President Ilham Aliyev said that the model of South Tyrol, where the
majority of the population is Swiss German but the area is under
Italian jurisdiction, could be applied to Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku
earlier praised the model of Tatarstan and other Russian regions. Can
the Armenians be persuaded to accept this proposal in exchange for
a set of economic preferences, including the inclusion of Armenia in
regional projects?

This is possible only through the skilful assistance of intermediaries,
and if the mediators actually work on the resolution, not just arrange
meetings and papers.

Those who have dealt with the issue in an unbiased manner agree that
we can develop a very real set of measures to realize the scenario
of demilitarization of the occupied territories and the integration
of Karabakh to Azerbaijan under the principles of very wide-ranging

However, the problem is that there is still a debate even among
experts, opponents and supporters of this idea. This is the first
problem. The second problem is that, as I have already indicated,
sponsors of the settlement process do not want to “roll up their
sleeves”. Even the work of Medvedev, with all due respect, did not
have rigidity and did not introduce specific obligations. Everything
was done based on good will.

And this probably requires coercion and the imposition of a resolution
scenario. Neither Moscow nor Washington wants to do deal with this due
to the low importance of the conflict on the global level. This can
be acceptable to Washington while it cannot be acceptable to Moscow.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas visited Baku a couple of days ago.

How true are the pessimistic predictions that the Karabakh conflict
can be as lengthy as the Middle East conflict?

I share this suspicion, but there are various research positions. One
of the most prominent contemporary conflict experts, Ted Robert Gurr,
analysing the various ethnic and regional conflicts, came to the
conclusion that if a separatist conflict is not solved for more than
14 years, it will most likely not be resolved in favour of the party
that has suffered since it eventually accepts the defeat.

The Middle East conflict is an example of another kind. Israel has
shown that it is not ready to come to terms with the Palestinians. The
fact that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict has been protracted points
to its long-term nature, like the one in the Middle East.


From: Baghdasarian

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