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Nagorno-Karabakh: national ambitions against stability and prosperity: Trend News commentator

Commentary Materials 25 September 2009 09:06 (UTC +04:00)
Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has long been a major stumbling block between the two neighboring states, being the eternal banner of Yerevan's ambition and Baku's subject of a fair desire to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh: national ambitions against stability and prosperity: Trend News commentator

Elmira Tariverdiyeva, commentator of Trend European Desk

Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has long been a major stumbling block between the two neighboring states, being the eternal banner of Yerevan's ambition and Baku's subject of a fair desire to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

But now, when the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus region is changing rapidly, it needs to think about the Nagorno-Karabakh as a territory, which has been experiencing the consequences of military action up to now.

Nagorno-Karabakh is in need of funding. Small territory that do not have energy resources demands considerable infusions to rebuild war-ravaged infrastructure and normal life for the population.

Azerbaijan is now ready and, most importantly, can do a lot for this land. And the fact is not that Armenia does not want to help Nagorno-Karabakh, largely populated by Armenians, it simply can not do this.

Armenia experiences economic instability, it has not energy, sufficient reserves of ore minerals, developed agricultural complex. Due to difficult relations with its neighbors, the country can not use its geographical position and become a transit area for passage of energy supplies from the Caspian Basin to Turkey and onward to Europe.

The financial crisis became a litmus test for the economic situation of Azerbaijan and Armenia, containing significant difference not in favor of the latter. The Azerbaijani national currency - manat, with strong support of the Central Bank of the country, remains on pre-crisis level in relevant to USD, while Armenia experienced an unprecedented collapse of drama in April 2009.

An important role is played here by the attitude of global financial institutions that are able to subsidize the rehabilitation projects in areas affected by the war and 16-year economic blockade.

On June 2, the international rating agency Fitch Ratings approved the current long-term rating of Azerbaijan at the level of BB + in the local and foreign currency. Forecast on rating was "Stable". Fitch Ratings said that "in 2009 Azerbaijan managed to sustain economic growth and ensure the consolidated budget without surplus."

But for Armenia Fitch downgraded the rating from level "BB" to "BB-" on August 12. Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan explained reducing the rating through decline in construction in Armenia and the increase in the degree of dollarization. This makes the country more vulnerable, he said.

Credit rating of the country is of great importance for the provision of financial subsidies of any country, and from the above data it is clear that Azerbaijan will get a loan much easier than Armenia.

The country, which survives at the expense of cash infusions from the world Armenian diasporas, can not assume financial responsibility for the recovery of the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh. Otherwise, Armenia would long ago invest in the occupied regions of Azerbaijan in order to make them attractive for Armenians from around the world. However, more than 16 years have passed, and people leave Nagorno-Karabakh for seeking a better life.

According to the official of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Elkhan Polukhov, with its destructive policies on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Armenian leadership brings the population to poverty, making its own citizens and the Armenian population of the occupied Azerbaijani territories the hostage of the situation.

Indeed, the question of survival of Nagorno-Karabakh is directly related to the existing situation. Even if Western investors are interested in establishing any business on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the deterrent factor will be the question of legitimacy of leadership. No investor will want to risk investment in the lands, which are in the disputed legal status.

Forgetting about the ambitions and the "great historic injustice", the Armenian leaders should think that Azerbaijan is ready to do for Nagorno-Karabakh.

Already, official Baku has proposed to, after withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the seven occupied regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, to unlock all communications links of Azerbaijan with Armenia, invest in the liberated Nagorno-Karabakh and seven districts.

Azerbaijan possesses sufficient internal resources for this, but when necessary could use proposals of various international organizations.

Azerbaijan is ready to attract not only internal reserves, but also the assistance of the EU in the reconstruction of Nagorno-Karabakh territories.

This is the Azerbaijani Great Return project, initially estimated at $60 billion.

The exact amount was not confirmed for the program, developed by the Azerbaijan government together with international financial institutions, UN agencies, international and local humanitarian organizations.

It is clear that the international community, which unconditionally recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, will not take any steps unless Nagorno-Karabakh acquires the status in accordance with the laws and the decision of Azerbaijan.

If Armenia so zealously fights for cloudless existence of Nagorno-Karabakh and its population, it would be logical to accept the conditions of the Azerbaijani side and improve the lives of people living in these territories through willful decisions of the Armenian leaders.

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