How Real Is The Reanimation Of The Karabakh Talks After So Many Years Of Futile Talks

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 24 September 2020
How Real Is The Reanimation Of The Karabakh Talks After So Many Years Of Futile Talks

Since the Armenian revolution of 2018 that unseat Serzh Sargsyan to install Nikol Pashinyan as the prime minister, the Karabakh talks under the patronage of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries have reached an impasse.

With the purpose of drawing international attention to the ongoing problem, Ilham Aliyev has again intensified his criticism of Armenia, blaming Yerevan for the occupation of Azerbaijan's internationally-recognised territories and resorting to various provocations to aggravate the situation on the border to start a new war.

The Armenian prime minister is deliberately undermining the format and substance of the negotiations under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries. Nikol Pashinyan’s repeated statements that "Karabakh is Armenia" is a serious blow to the negotiations as he puts groundless conditions to the negotiations process.

Official Baku has rejected his unacceptable seven conditions to state that Azerbaijan has only one condition - to achieve peace. Armenia must pull out the occupying forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan as the entire world recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan.

Armenia has set up civilian militia groups, made up of dozens of thousands of civilians, who will be forced to undertake military action against Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev said, adding that this clearly demonstrates fresh plans of Armenia to seize new territories. Armenian Defence Davit Tonoyan threatens Azerbaijan with so-called "new war for new territories", the president added.

The aggressive rhetoric and provocations of Armenia along the contact line and state border is indicating that this country is preparing for a new aggression against Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev added.

"The aggressive rhetoric and provocations of Armenia show that Armenia is preparing for a new aggression against Azerbaijan. We call on the United Nations and international community to urge Armenia to refrain from another military aggression," Ilham Aliyev said, adding that "all responsibility lies on the military-political leadership of Armenia for instigating provocations and escalating tensions".

A revolution in diplomacy may look different. Somewhere they abolish the magnificent and archaic ceremonial norms from the point of view of the modern world, and somewhere, on the contrary, they revive them as a sign of historical continuity, somewhere they abandon old alliances and create new ones.

Currently, Azerbaijan is carrying out its diplomatic revolution. President Ilham Aliyev raises openness and transparency to an unprecedented level, moreover, in such a delicate issue as the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“You know, I have always, at all times, told the Azerbaijani people the truth and I believe that this is the only accurate policy. The people should know what is happening, where we are, what our policy is," the president said, declaring that “negotiations are practically not being conducted,” placing the responsibility for this on official Yerevan.

"The Armenian leader actually violated – is not violating, but violated - the negotiation process, because their absurd statements, provocative steps make the negotiations meaningless," he told a video meeting dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the UN.

The Azerbaijani president stressed that aggressive rhetoric and provocations demonstrate that Armenia is preparing for a new aggression against Azerbaijan. We call on the UN and the international community to restrain Armenia from another military aggression.

The responsibility for the provocations and the escalation of tension lies with the military-political leadership of Armenia. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict should be settled within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions.

One more nuance that carries a huge information and political load: the Azerbaijani president did not particularly emphasize and stipulate that the conflict should be resolved exclusively by diplomatic methods and within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. That is, he sent another clear signal to the world community that if the world community does not force Armenia to “change its model of behavior,” Azerbaijan reserves the right to a military solution to the conflict.

It would seem that after the interview with President Ilham Aliyev, figures in world diplomacy were already moving at a whirlwind pace. The United States, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, called for an early resumption of substantive negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.

Emmanuel Macron also decided to check in on the topic and said that "France, as the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, will spare no efforts to achieve an early resumption of negotiations between the two countries, in the hope of a peaceful and long-term settlement of the Karabakh conflict." True, he did it in a congratulatory message to Armenian President Armen Sargsyan on the occasion of Armenia's independence day.

Finally, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at a meeting with a parliamentary delegation led by Milli Maclis Speaker Sahiba Qafarova, confirmed that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's statements about Nagorno-Karabakh impede the conflict settlement process, and recalled that Russia is in favor of returning five occupied districts to Azerbaijan.

Finally, the reaction of Yerevan itself is also indicative: here Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan hastened to assure that the Armenian government is ready to resume negotiations at any moment and generally see no alternative to a peaceful solution. In brief, judging by many signs, in response to the statements of the Azerbaijani president, a hasty resumption of negotiations on the settlement of the conflict began.

Calls for negotiations have been and continue to be heard throughout the region and even the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh should be liberated already at the first stage of the settlement has also been said more than once. However, these conversations, appeals and wishes, no matter how delicate it is, do not work.

Moreover, Armenia is clearly trying to use the current "sluggish negotiation process" as an insurance against a military defeat. Meanwhile, it continues to occupy 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan, arranges armed provocations, its defense minister openly threatens with territorial seizures.

This circumstance already makes us doubt very much whether this “remote resuscitation” will “work”, even if figures of the level of Macron, Lavrov and Pompeo are involved in it. After the fighting in Tovuz, the situation in the region crossed the red line. After that, appeals and declarations are no longer enough to revive the negotiations - real measures of pressure on Yerevan are needed. Or rather, a real withdrawal of troops is needed, and not talk about its necessity.

It seems that Yerevan is still not ready for this and as Nikol Pashinyan's speech to the UN has shown, they still expect the world community to “keep the region from war,” that is, to ensure the security of the Armenian occupiers.

However, it seems that now in Armenia too the number of those who are beginning to understand that the continuation of that policy is a step towards war is growing. But the war will not bring anything good to Armenia.

Anyway, Naira Zohrabyan, the one who recently promised to “listen to Komitas in Baku”, after the battles in Tovuz changed her tone. “We will pray that there will be no full-scale war with Azerbaijan”, she said, adding that “the issue should be resolved by peaceful negotiations”, and in general "the war will be fatal for us." It is unlikely that only she thinks so and the question is when the realization of this truth in all senses will reach Pashinyan.