There's been a lot of discussion lately about how to resolve the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict by the end of the year. The OSCE has been stepping up its efforts once again to bring this situation to a close and have a peace deal signed. Only two weeks ago Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev met in Moscow
. At that meeting the two leaders along with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement essentially agreeing to the basic proposals of a peace accord that were introduced in Madrid about one year ago. On top of that, Turkish President Abdullah Gul met with Aliev
on November 5 to discuss how to settle the conflict. Gul met with Medevev a week prior. And just yesterday, having completed a tour of the region, including Karabagh, the Minsk Group co-chairs held a press conference
in Yerevan where they discussed the current status of the deliberations. They admitted that a peace deal is far from being signed because they are simply "not there yet" regarding the logistics of what is to be accomplished after an agreement is reached, although the pesty former president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian insists that a peace agreement is imminent
. To date there is still no discussion about including the Nagorno-Karabagh leadership in the talks.
Although the details cannot be revealed about the "so-called Madrid principles," the following is assumed:
- Some or all of the buffer-zone regions controlled by Armenian forces will be returned to Azerbaijan and the areas are to be demilitarized.
- Some kind of corridor--presumably the one which exists--between Armenia and Karabagh must be secured and be protected by peace keeping forces and promises that it will not be compromised.
- Azerbaijani refugees will be allowed to return to their homes (although this logically does not seem likely since virtually all existing infrastructure in the Armenian controlled terriories was destroyed during the war).
- The right to self-determination of Armenians living in Karabagh must be respected by Baku.
- A referendum must be voted upon at some point in the future by residents of Karabagh which will determine their future status. In the meantime, the security of Karabagh will be guaranteed with vague promises by international powers.
But President Sarkisian is now insisting that Armenia and Karabagh must share a common land border, which conceivably means that the region wedged in between the two states, Kelbajar, would have to stay put if we are to interpret his words correctly. However, I cannot imagine that Aliev will agree to that, and I don't see how he would agree to officially forfeiting control of Karabagh. During a recent speech he made after being sworn-in as president, having been reelected, he repeated his banter about never agreeing to relinquish control of both Karabagh and any of the Armenian-controlled regions.
At the press conference French Minsk Group co-chair Bernard Fassier had this to say:
The security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s people in the present status-quo is only depending on Nagorno-Karabakh itself and Armenia, with the strong opposition, to put it mildly, from Azerbaijan. What we have in mind to try to create for the situation in the future is to ensure that the security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s people could be provided and guaranteed by a set of complex security measures and international guarantees as well as the agreement of these measures by Azerbaijan.
The ever-optimistic US co-chair Matthew Bryza said that "The people of Karabakh have to feel safe -- safe from physical attack and safe from any economic pressure as well."
Call me absurd, but the status quo guarantees just that. Why would the Armenian side ever want to overturn the current situation in exchange for vague promises of security for the people Karabagh? And are the two leaders really serious about a peace accord? I can't say that is the case at the moment, nor was it perhaps ever the case. Both leaders, particularly President Sarkisian, are going through the motions, trying to prove that they want a final deal to be agreed upon even though neither side is particularly serious about making painful concessions. I for one find the principles for further discussion unacceptible, especially the holding of a referendum. I daresay that the Karabagh authorities would not object to the unification of their state with Armenia proper in a peace agreement, for instance. Peace and stability in the region is necessary, don't get me wrong, but not at the expense of the security of Karabagh and its people. As the main solid premise for a peace agreement Karabagh and Armenia must be made one nation and its unity must be recognized internationally, bottom line. Why would Armenia agree to anything else? Furthermore, why isn't this stipulation already on paper?
Labels: Nagorno-Karabagh, Politics