Thomas De Waal: Peace Process Over Nagorno-Karabakh Is Entering An U

THOMAS DE WAAL: PEACE PROCESS OVER NAGORNO-KARABAKH IS ENTERING AN UNUSUALLY DIFFICULT PHASE

Panorama
July 29, 2011
Armenia

Thomas de Waal, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace in Washington, expressed his views over the
conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh in an interview with “Radio Liberty”.

Expert says the peace process over Nagorno-Karabakh is entering an
unusually difficult phase.

During the last meeting in Kazan Aliyev came to the meeting with
a list of nine or 10 amendments to the latest draft document, the
Armenian side raised objections to them, and the meeting, although
it lasted almost four hours, was pretty much over as soon as it began.

Azerbaijan’s objections could be described as forming three radiating
circles.

According to Thomas de Waal the chief one for Baku is the status of
“non-corridor Lachin” which was not made clear.

Official Baku’s objection to the draft under discussion at Kazan
was that, as it did not set the limits of the “Lachin Corridor,”
it was too vague on the status of “non-corridor Lachin” and did not
promise the right of return to the inhabitants of 39 villages from that
district. It therefore only explicitly ensured the return of six of the
seven Azerbaijani regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, not all seven,
and would be viewed as a defeat in Azerbaijan. To a lesser degree, the
Azerbaijani side also objected to the idea that “interim status” for
Nagorno-Karabakh would allow it to join international organizations.

Expert says Azerbaijanis still regard Russia as Armenia’s main ally
and are suspicious of the role of Lavrov, whose Armenian parentage
they distrust. Although Medvedev has apparently never brought up the
subject, there is a fear that Russia has a secret agenda of wanting
to insert its peacekeepers into the Karabakh conflict zone as a way
of shaping the peace in a Russian way. For years, there has been a
“gentleman’s agreement” that “no neighbors and no co-chairs” would
be involved in peacekeeping but this has never been codified.

The “third circle”, according to the expert, is that Azerbaijan
emanates the impression that they believe time is on their side and
that they are not in a hurry.

Azerbaijani officials say that they believe the Caucasus arms race is
bankrupting Armenia and that in a few years’ time, the Armenian side
will be much weaker and more inclined to compromise over the status
of Karabakh.

To any seasoned observer of the Karabakh conflict, this is a misreading
of the Armenian position. As far as the Armenians are concerned,
possession of the ancient land of Karabakh is a far greater prize than
the offer of Azerbaijani riches, which may run out within a couple of
decades. Besides, Armenians would argue, Armenia is a far stronger
state than it was 20 years ago, is as wealthy as Georgia in GDP-per
capita terms, and can still rely on strong diaspora support to bail
it out in a crisis. A small de facto Armenian statelet now exists in
Nagorno-Karabakh itself that gets more entrenched as the years pass,
and in which most people under 30 have never met an Azerbaijani.

This being case, it would surely make sense for the Azerbaijani
government to spend its massive oil and gas revenues on a peace
settlement, rather than waiting several more years for a better deal.

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