After the April flare-up on the Line of Contact in the Karabakh conflict zone – it went down in history as a “four-day war” - the world started speaking about a new “hotbed of tensions” on the map.
At first sight, Azerbaijan and Armenia may seem usual states with not big ambitions. In fact, the truth is rather different, and the global think tanks are well aware what a larger-scale war between these two countries may lead to. Actually, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), while Azerbaijan is the ally of the NATO member Turkey. A flare-up of the Karabakh conflict may go far beyond the bounds of the conflicting countries involving more countries and even military and political blocs.
Another important factor is that the conflict is unfolding in the soft underbelly of Russia. Moscow does not need a military scenario or its possible outcome, as it will not favor either Baku or Yerevan and Russia’s influence in the region will just diminish.
The key actor in the Karabakh peace process is the Kremlin now, as its OSCE Minsk Group partners – France and U.S. – are just following the developments. Therefore, it is very important for Russia to “push through” the concept of peaceful resolution developed by the combined efforts of the mediators. The Kremlin cannot offer anything new to the sides – the document that was on the negotiating table in Kazan yet during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency has been reanimated.
Aleksey Sinitsin, the chief expert at American-Azerbaijani Progress Promotion Fund, told EADaily that any agreement on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh and the negotiations preceding it is a search for concessions and cannot meet the interests of either Baku or Yerevan at full.
“At present rapprochement of the stands of the conflicting parties is in question. I think the process has run upon rocks i.e. the so-called ‘security belt’ in terms of the occupied regions of Azerbaijan that have never been part of Nagorno-Karabakh’s geography. The situation looks absurd – part of the territories of a side to the conflict has been seized and fortified. Occupier troops have been deployed there and they may threaten the Azerbaijani populated areas located far from the conflict zone,” the political analyst said. He thinks no agreements are possible now when even a simple exchange of views looks like “negotiations from a position of strength.”
“The problem of the Armenian side is that they lack that strength, I mean military prevalence. The local clashes in the conflict zone earlier this April revealed that. All the talks on the failed ‘blitzkrieg’ of the Azerbaijani troops are misleading. Azerbaijan used only the units located on the front line, while the advanced weapons and equipment of the Azerbaijani army were used to a very small extent. However, the Armenian side lost a number of strategic heights even in those local clashes. Yerevan needs to draw adequate conclusions from that fact,” Sinitsin said.
In his words, Armenia needs to leave the territories that bear no relation to Nagorno-Karabakh, as the attempts to keep various “defense lines” will result in unjustified and useless casualties.
“Relying on the military assistance from the strategic allies, CSTO, is senseless, as the Azerbaijani army does not threaten the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia. Yerevan must comprehend that there is no military parity between it and Baku. Speculating the legal concepts like ‘the peoples’ rights to self-determination’ has nothing to do with occupation of the others’ territories. After all, the modern world lives in a paradigm of conditions set forth by what is not so properly called Realpolitik,” the expert said.
He is sure that any talks, including those in the context of the so-called Kazan arrangements should start with Armenia’s commitments to leave the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. “Such an approach with deployment of peacekeepers would guarantee security of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. It would clear the negotiation platform for a full and free exchange of views. If Armenia fails to accept such conditions, resumption of the military actions in wider scales will be a matter of time,” Aleksey Sinitsin said.
By Anar Husseinov, political analyst (Baku) for EADaily