BAKU: Domestic Agendas Keep Karabakh Solution ‘Far Off’

Aug 10, 2011

News.Az interviews Thijs Rommens, research fellow at the Institute
for Int’l and European Policy at the Catholic University of Leuven
in Belgium.

What impact did the 2008 Russo-Georgian war have on the South Caucasus?

The war surely had its impact on the region, although initial
predictions of the Caucasus as the battle ground of a new Cold War have
not materialized. It mainly is an illustration of how fast things can
spin out of control and turn all-out violent in this region. On the
geopolitical level, it showed a Russia that was willing to take up
arms to make its point and a division of opinion among Western powers.

However, this war probably made â[email protected]~Kâ[email protected]~Kregional conflicts better
known in the world, because now the world pays more attention to
their settlement.

It may have put the region briefly back on the international agenda,
but without long lasting effects. As the general public and politicians
alike have been confronted with new domestic (financial crisis)
and international (Arab Spring) events, attention seems to have waned.

What impact did the Russo-Georgian have on resolution of the
Nagorno-Karabakh problem?

It showed that the temperature of the proverbial freezer where the
conflicts of the Caucasus are stored in is only slightly below zero.

Armed conflict has become a less unlikely option since then, and
combined with the ever increasing defence budgets of all countries
in the region this seems like a powder keg.

Do you share Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s view that in the
case of the Karabakh conflict a bad peace is better than a war?

I’m sure all people involved in or affected by the August war will
wholeheartedly agree with Mr Medvedev. Avoiding destruction and loss
of life should be the highest goal of all parties concerned. Moreover,
the August 2008 war has shown that war is not an easy and definitive
solution as some politicians may dream it is. Despite the war, the
two territories are still not internationally recognized. There is
still massive corruption and large numbers of internally displaced
people, for example. Even though a negotiated solution is the best,
a frozen conflict is also far preferable to war.

Many believe that Russia cannot make progress in resolution of the
Karabakh problem after it failed in peacekeeping in the conflicts in
Georgian territory. What are your comments on this issue?

It’s hard to predict the future, so I can’t give an answer to that.

It’s not right to call Russia a mediator in the conflicts in Abkhazia
and South Ossetia; it is rather one of the warring parties. In the
case of Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia is trying to balance between the two
parties involved, trying not to become tied in too much with one of
them. In the end, Russia can try to mediate as much as it wants, but
a solution will depend on the will of the politicians of the affected
countries. As long as tough rhetoric on Nagorno-Karabakh is of use for
their domestic political agenda, an immediate solution seems far off.



From: A. Papazian

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