Ariel Cohen: United States will pay less attention to unresolved territorial conflicts
Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 17 / Trend E.Tariverdiyeva /
Heritage Foundation's leading expert on Eurasia and Trend Expert Council member Ariel Cohen believes Armenia's failure to release even two occupied regions of Azerbaijan, despite expectations, was a great disappointment of the OSCE Astana summit.
In summing up 2010, Cohen told Trend that "The Astana summit has demonstrated the limits of the OSCE as an organization for maintaining peace and security, as it works on the principle of taking decisions by consensus rather than majority vote and has limited resources."
After an eleven year hiatus, the OSCE held its summit in Astana on Dec.1-2 under the Kazakh chairmanship. The summit brought together heads of states and governments of all member countries.
The OSCE Astana summit adopted a joint statement by the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the heads of delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group which co-chair countries in the Nagorno-Karabakh resolution. The statement calls for a rapid resolution of the conflict.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Unfortunately, Cohen said, the leaders of the conflicting countries used the Astana summit as a platform for mutual accusations for the lack of progress and instead of implementing their commitment to the peaceful settlement of the territorial dispute.
"I regret that the forecast for 2011 on Nagorno-Karabakh is disappointing. The conflict hardly has a prospect of a breakthrough, especially since the parties had missed such a wonderful opportunity as the OSCE summit," Cohen told Trend over the telephone from Minsk.
He said the United States may not have as much attention to this conflict in 2011, before the forthcoming presidential elections in 2012. In addition, 2011 will be a crucial, if not critical year for the operations of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Cohen said.
"This means that the U.S. will have other priorities, and Washington, judging by recent statements of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will circumscribe its role even in regard to an important conflict, such as the Middle East," Cohen said. "So intractable conflicts, in which the prospects for immediate political and public relations dividend for Washington are small, and a threat to national security is also limited, offer a lower priority for the U.S. administration, especially given the continuing difficulties with the country's economic situation."
Cohen believes with regard to the intermediary mission of Russia it is not all unique.
Cohen said that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has already made an enormous contribution in time and effort in an attempt to resolve this conflict, but got no progress in return.
It is obvious that Azerbaijan is ready for serious concessions to achieve progress and, President Medvedev is aware of who is not cooperating, he said.
"On the other hand, the historical ties between Armenia and Russia can not be shaken by Azerbaijan's readiness to resolve the conflict. Nothing but Armenia's major reorientation toward the U.S., which, incidentally, is possible in the future, will change the balance of power in the Russian-Azerbaijani-Armenian triangle," Cohen said.