Unsurprisingly, I just learned in an article appearing on ArmeniaLiberty.org that Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to reach an agreement to officially end the dispute over Nagorno Karabagh. Azerbaijan will not give in on Karabagh being part of its territory, even though it effectively lost control over the enclave when it declared itself free and independent in 1991. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that “Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is recognized by everyone and can not be a subject of negotiations.”
So again, why did the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents bother meeting for a second time in five months? Nothing changed since the previous meeting held in Paris last February. Azerbaijan is still taking the hard-line approach, demanding to reclaim a region for which it fundamentally no longer holds control. All the pressure from the US and Europe, including Aliyev’s meeting with President George W. Bush, did nothing to convince Azerbaijan to give in once and for all. When the US oil companies start shutting down their facilities in Azerbaijan because the country is no longer considered a player in achieving peace in the region, we’ll see what happens. It could happen, it should not be considered a stretch. Oil companies would be stupid to continue operating in a country that is waging war with its neighbor. I would imagine that oil companies would risk a short-term loss rather than a long-term one when it comes to doing business in Baku.
So it looks like war may be resumed, since there seems to be no other way out. Azerbaijan will most likely attack either by the end of this year or the beginning of 2007. But I have heard people say that just because Azerbaijan is beefing up military spending considerably, that does not mean they would necessarily win anyway, with the argument that “Azeris cannot and do not want to fight.” I have heard this from several people, and it seems to be the general consensus. But I do not recall speaking to anyone who believes that war will resume.
Well, whatever. The economic boom in Armenia will not wain until the Azeris start bombing. I doubt that much of the construction going on, which has been moving along at a snail’s pace, will be completed by the end of this year, which means that if war does break out again, part of Central Yerevan will resemble a war zone for quite some time. It already looks as if Yerevan has been bombed and is slowly reconstructing in some places. Investors will pull out funding from their projects overnight. The dram will lose its value again considerably, and the history of the early 1990s may repeat itself—you never know. Then you may see at least another decade for rebuilding trust in the region for commerce. Armenia has a lot going for it now, with a booming IT industry, construction market, and commerce. It is clearly obvious that Armenian importers are doing very well, as European as well as Turkish products are everywhere, with consumers snapping them up. All of that will come to a complete hault if Azerbaijan tries to reclaim Karabagh by military force. Armenians could be winners again in war, but economically they will suffer for years and years. And it won’t necessarily be their fault if they do.
But who knows, perhaps by some miracle, another offer for peace will be laid on the table before the end of the year, with both countries being absolutely forced to agree to. For now, I am staying put, and I hope their will not be a reason why I should desire to leave in the near future.
Labels: Nagorno-Karabagh, Politics