Trend commentator: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - unfreeze mode?
Trend European Desk Commentator Elmira Tariverdiyeva
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is once again gaining the international community's attention. Immediately after the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian presidents - Ilham Aliyev and Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan - met in St. Petersburg, a series of skirmishes along the contact line led to a number of casualties in both the Azerbaijani and Armenian military forces.
The incidents along the contact line have caused serious concern. International organizations released a flurry of statements on the negotiation process to resolve the conflict.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs expressed serious concern over the use of force and the senseless fatalities in the conflict zone. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakh State Secretary and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev urged all of the parties involved to preserve peace in the region. NATO and the EU also expressed their concern over the situation along the contact line.
However, one thing is clear. No one doubts Azerbaijan's position in the conflict.
Speaking at the Islamic Development Bank's Thirty-Fifth Annual Meeting in Baku, Aliyev once again stressed his country's position on the issue, stating that the "conflict can be resolved only while observing Azerbaijan's territorial integrity." He added that the decisions taken by major international organizations such as the U.N., the Council of Europe and the OSCE create a basis for resolving these conflicts, "but Armenia does not acknowledge these decisions and continues to occupy Azerbaijani lands."
Certainly, the human toll and the threat of renewed military action are sad prospects for both sides of the conflict. However, international mediators need to understand that a war can easily be avoided. Foreign observers need to speak out and to declare the obvious - Nagorno-Karabakh is not a frozen conflict, although Armenia, and may other, would prefer to live in the current status quo for decades.
The idea of a frozen conflict in the South Caucasus is convenient for pressuring Azerbaijan. In this case, Armenia does not need to resolve anything at all, and can simply maintain the "frozen" conflict. Yerevan is simply wasting everyone's time by not agreeing on the updated Madrid principles. Armenia is satisfied with having its armed forces in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, and also is pleased with the idea that only Armenians reside in Nagorno Karabakh. Essentially, Armenia also uses spontaneous acts of aggression to prevent any progress in the conflict's resolution by proposing its own options to the international mediators.
The international community has repeatedly called for peaceful negotiations, and apparently believes that Azerbaijan's patience will never run thin. However, everyone's patience has a limit. Azerbaijan has relied on international assistance to resolve the territorial dispute with Armenia for almost two decades. But Baku has not refused to attend a single round of negotiations. Moreover, hoping to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict, Azerbaijan has not used its right to repel Armenia militarily, as is prescribed in the Charter of the U.N.
Armenia simply cannot get its head around the fact that the continued occupation of Azerbaijani territories for nearly 20 years leaves Baku the right to use military force to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity. No one doubts this statement, as there is not a single country in the world that has recognized Nagorno Karabakh's independence.
This is a paradoxical situation when, without recognizing the independence of the Azerbaijani territory, Armenia declares about "invasion" of the Azerbaijani soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh, that is, on its own territory. Moreover, Armenia considers it possible to keep these territories under the occupation for twenty years, while insisting on a peaceful reaction of Azerbaijan.
In other words, according to the Armenian leadership, if neighbor come to your apartment and barricaded himself in your kitchen for twenty years, you should not take any action, except for exclusively peaceful persuasion to neighbor. This scenario is from fiction for any sensible man. So why should Azerbaijan accept this state of affairs? And why the international community for such a long time limited with calls for a peaceful settlement, ignoring the reluctance of Armenian side to move off the dead point?
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