The Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia are in a very difficult region — the Caucasus, which is characterized by a lot of «hot spots» and the clash of geopolitical and geo-economic interests of many countries. Against this background, official Baku has been working in the field of political settlement of the Karabakh conflict. And I do not believe that the statements of some Azeri politicians that territorial integrity must be restored purely military means, express installation of the government.
Today has been an intensification of efforts as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, and the official authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
The last meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers in Geneva on 28-30 January this year brokered OSCE MG continued for two days (in total, about 12 hours). Not ruled out meeting the leaders of two warring countries in the framework of the Munich security conference on February 14-16 this year
In recent weeks, there is no violation of the ceasefire regime on the contact line of the Armed Forces (AF) of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia. However, violation on the front line will be up until Yerevan and Baku do not sign yet of a comprehensive political agreement on the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
And it is generally sufficient threat to peace in the region, because it is not clear where the limit of patience of the Republic of Azerbaijan? In other words, how the negotiation process meets the national interests of Azerbaijan, what caused the activity of intermediaries, what are the future prospects of the Karabakh conflict settlement?
You do not need the drama …
Encouraging statements the OSCE Minsk Group on the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, lead to the following conclusion: both sides — Azerbaijan and Armenia, probably set to abandon their conflicting demands. And this condition was a result of reaching a consensus on a political settlement of the Karabakh conflict between the Russian Federation and the United States.
I should note the erroneous and simplistic views that the whole activation of the authorities of the two countries takes place exclusively under the sign of Russian dominance in the negotiation process. MG Co-Chairs are interested in bringing the positions of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the promotion of the negotiation process for signing the final document. Thus, we are talking about reaching today a consensus between the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group for the purpose of signing the Interim Agreement.
But are themselves parties to the Karabakh conflict to the signing of this document? Hard to say, since the conflict began №1 issue on the agenda of the political struggle in Armenia. On this basis, it is difficult to predict how the political elite of Armenia will be able to within the country itself and Karabakh and the Armenian Diaspora, especially the US and France to reach a consensus on this issue. Clarify the situation may be a regular meeting of the two presidents.
By the way, the negotiation process for a political settlement of the Karabakh conflict was marked by the fact that earlier the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov mentioned the status of Tatarstan within the Russian Federation. This is the symptom. If earlier the Azerbaijani negotiators only loosely talked about the high status of Karabakh, today we have exactly what to discuss and consider. Another question — whether a certain analogue of Tatarstan’s status is acceptable to the Armenian side or not? Question — rhetorical.
In Azerbaijan, the Karabakh conflict settlement is not an issue №1 in the relations of power and the opposition. And if in Yerevan, the main challenge is to settle the Karabakh conflict, then to Baku — these are challenges of a more global nature.
One should not dramatize the increase in Azerbaijan’s defense capability. The increase in the country’s defense needs to be considered outside the context of the Karabakh conflict. Strengthening of defense power, increasing its potential, strengthening of security, consideration of certain risks that are probable in the medium-term, and even more so in the long term — it is pragmatic, and this should be handled by a modern state in principle. However, the safety of Azerbaijani statehood can not be considered only in the short term. But in the short term should be considered the solution of the Karabakh conflict.
It is necessary to include other potential threats, risks, challenges that Azerbaijan can expect in the 21st century. Azerbaijani Armed Forces are obliged to perform any tasks. It is the sun of the new sample, and with the country’s leadership is more to it, by the way, were built in accordance with NATO standards. And for an increase in rates of military spending should be the base for the development and modernization of aircraft.
Representatives of Azerbaijani opposition declare that they are ready to support the management in the issue of a military solution to the Karabakh conflict. In this case, it would be appropriate to invite the opposition to support the plan to resolve the conflict, which actually realized today. We need to continue to seek solutions to the Karabakh conflict by political and diplomatic means, increasing economic and geopolitical superiority of Azerbaijan.
One piece or …
It repeated many times that during the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group the parties can not reach a consensus on basic issues: Karabakh conflict should be considered in the light of the principle of «territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan» and the principle of «the right of Karabakh Armenians’ self-determination. Besides that, Karabakh Armenians want to become part of the Republic of Armenia.
It is natural that Azerbaijan considers Karabakh conflict in the context of Yerevan’s territorial claims. Therefore he insists that the Karabakh conflict in the context of international law does not have any conflicts or clashes of the two principles (territorial integrity and people’s right to self-determination). It should be seen as part of the international «territorial integrity of the state» in the borders which have been recognized by the international community upon receipt of the Azerbaijan Republic to the UN in the administrative borders of the Federal Republic (former Azerbaijan SSR).
Probably, today Baku and Yerevan, for various reasons, at the negotiating table does not consider the package, and the so-called modernized «Phased plan» to solve the Karabakh conflict. In other words, the upgraded plan for a political solution to the Karabakh conflict suggests:
— First, the withdrawal of Armenian troops from 5 occupied regions around Nagorno Karabakh;
— Secondly, the opening of the Turkish-Armenian (which repeatedly pointed Ankara) and Armenian-Azerbaijani state borders;
— Thirdly, the return of Azerbaijani and Armenian refugees and internally displaced persons in the 5 liberated Azerbaijani regions;
— Fourth, the provision of Nagorno-Karabakh an interim status.
OSCE MG appeal to only two elements — the conclusion of Armenian armed forces from the occupied districts around Nagorno-Karabakh and the interim status of the unrecognized republic before a referendum on the issue.
But what is the main? In my view, here all the questions — basic: the definition of an intermediate status, and the conclusion of Armenian armed forces from the Azerbaijani territories and return of refugees to the occupied five (full) and two (partially) district. We must not talk about two issues. They are actually more — and that our positions differ. And the fact that the issue of return of refugees they impose on Baku and Yerevan, offering to discuss it directly with each other, does not hold water. If the process is in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and there it should be addressed. In this surprising statement that since the co-chairs during their visits to the region meet with the head of the so-called «NKR», Karabakh is a de facto party to the conflict and to be a party to the negotiations.
According to my well-known model of Karabakh conflict resolution, if Yerevan raises the question of the participation of the unrecognized republic in the process of political settlement of the conflict, Armenia must withdraw from it. At the same time Armenia should withdraw its occupying forces from Azerbaijani territory, to release five full and two partially occupied Azerbaijani district. In this case, Baku will take his troops to their permanent dislocation. However, Azerbaijan will get more — will not conduct negotiations, as there is a change in the format of negotiations and dialogue with one of its regions — the Nagorno-Karabakh. If the latter is ready for it — please. But the problems that exist between Azerbaijan and Armenia, will be addressed at the level of subjects of international law, but with the exception of the Karabakh conflict. In other words, Karabakh conflict will be reduced to the level of national, will be internal — between the center and one of the regional structures of Azerbaijan. You can take as a basis for resolution of the Karabakh conflict without precedent: the so-called «Talysh-Mugan Republic», «Lezgin question» (1993), when the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev showed the model to resolve the conflict peacefully.
Of course, one might ask why this has not been done before. For this had to mature a suitable situation, both domestically and in the region and the world at large, in particular concerning the Karabakh issue.
Extremes — a dangerous thing
Important is that the Azerbaijani side has gradually passed to the «offensive» format in the positive sense of the word. In particular, it is necessary to continue with the joint GUAM countries to address this problem within the walls of the United Nations (referring to all the initiatives resolution of «frozen conflicts» in the UN). Naturally, it is necessary to go out and to the European Community. I do not agree with the statement by European politicians that the well-known decision of the GUAM countries appeal to the UN is hasty. In my view, this appeal is precisely testifies that Azerbaijan, like other GUAM members, is committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict within the framework of international norms and principles. When I speak about the threats caused by the statements of the official policy of the countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group, the mean and the idea that, for example, Palestinian-Israeli conflict is fundamentally different from those that exist in the post-Soviet space. This is not so. Let me explain why. One has only to say, Karabakh to gain independence, he would join the Republic of Armenia respectively.
Intermediaries also need to build a common platform for negotiations with the general universal principles, and not to divide the issues discussed at the major and minor. This is not a mission of intermediaries — to determine the degree of importance or secondary problems and challenges facing the parties.
When I talk about the partiality of intermediaries, the mean bias related to their own interests. In particular, say, France. As a country that plays an important role in the EU, it proceeds from its new neighborhood policy, aimed at establishing a normal partnership with all countries of the region and the settlement in an European — a long-term and fundamental process, which is the main principle — «do no harm». But Europeans do not realize that the stretching process in time can also hurt, as the South Caucasus — this is somewhat different from the European space. That is why intermediaries so actively trying to involve Armenia in regional integration processes. They did not accidentally called the last year «window of opportunity» in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, knowing that then everything will be more difficult.
For example, the US desire to solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem is entirely understandable. At that time, when there is a deepening of NATO’s influence (read: the US) to the Middle East, the Palestinian issue requires urgent resolution. But here the solution of this problem rests on a fundamental principle in international law — the principle of territorial integrity of the state. Therefore, we can say that the logic of Baku, that the danger of an increase in Israel at the expense of the Palestinian fraught for Azerbaijan that the precedent would be set for a similar scenario to resolve Karabakh conflict (which is in fact — in the case of at least partial implementation of the «deal of the century» — violated the principle of the territorial integrity of a Palestinian state, it is clear that the format is far from realization — but we have a possible precedent). Also, their diametrically opposed than in the United States, a vision of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the EU and other global players. Do not wait for the approval of the «deal of the century» by the UN Security Council.
And the time still tend to change. And why not consider future forms of cooperation, where the Republic of Armenia in theory could become a constituent element, for example, in the triangle of the Istanbul-Yerevan-Baku? Yes, today Yerevan Moscow gave almost all the major production assets in Armenia’s state debt and not only. To this day, when Moscow a permanent military presence in no hurry to invest in Armenia, because it is afraid of a possible reversal of foreign policy to the West …
Discusses whether economic (or investment) aspect of the settlement of Karabakh issue? But Baku has resources for investment. Raised questions about whether the prospects for economic development of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan — as a long-term model and a guarantee to work and live together? Approx whether these aspects of the peaceful settlement of the conflict? regional security system includes not only military-political component of cooperation … Model — a long-term benefit of both countries, and most importantly, people.
At the exit as long as we have the following picture. The Russian Federation, France and the United States reached a consensus on the resolution of the Karabakh conflict, ie, OSCE MG recognizes three fundamental international principle of «territorial integrity of the state»; «Right of peoples to self-determination»; «Non-use of force in resolving the conflict.» Baku accepts the updated «Madrid principles» with one caveat — Karabakh can only be a part of Azerbaijan with the widest autonomy. Yerevan also recognizes the updated «Madrid principles», but with its precondition — Karabakh in any case can not be part of Azerbaijan. In other words, Baku demands a return to the situation before 1988, ie restoration of the Azerbaijan SSR, and refuses to recognize the right of Nagorno Karabakh to self-determination.
But a return to January 1988, with both the Karabakh status point of view, and with regards to the return of occupied Azerbaijani seven districts not accepted by Armenia and the Armenian community of Karabakh. Security of the Armenian statehood (as recorded in the Military Doctrine of the Republic of Armenia) begins with «administrative boundaries» of Karabakh.
With regard to the principle of «the right of people to self-determination», that in all international documents contain provisions, completely eliminates its priorities. Thus, the international documents «on the self-determination of the people» contain a provision stating that «nothing in this document is not to be construed as a violation of the territorial integrity of the state.» On the other hand, states that «at present the world community recognizes only the internal aspect of self-determination — the right to restore the independence of existing states, if they are occupied or conquered by alien forces.»
Baku, in turn, also refuses to discuss the so-called «Legal base exit» Karabakh from Azerbaijan, noting that the so-called «Referendum» held in Nagorno-Karabakh without the participation of the Azerbaijani population, and in the conditions which prevailed after the ethnic cleansing of Karabakh. Therefore, in Baku believe that the existing problems of the future device Karabakh should be resolved between its two ethnic communities — the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. The more so because so far no one in the world at the state level, including, and the Republic of Armenia and does not recognize Karabakh as an independent state, and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is recognized by all international organizations and instruments.
Azerbaijan — not the losing party. Yes, part of the Azerbaijani territory is occupied, no more. Baku has already won — in integration initiatives, prospects. Azerbaijan is able to transform the quantitative superiority over Armenia in quality.
At present, the solution of the Karabakh conflict in the legal plane — it is unrealistic, because legal solution to the conflict is equivalent to the military-political defeat of Armenia (including the domestic political upheavals inside) and Azerbaijan’s victory with all its consequences. The above scenario does not suit either Yerevan or Moscow. Consequently, both in Moscow and in Yerevan on Karabakh conflict resolution is considered not in the context of prevailing norms of international law, and political expediency format, taking into account the results of the last of the Karabakh war, which can not objectively can not suit Baku.
The policy of isolating the part of the negotiation process can not be considered a pragmatic long-term. In the short term — yes. Armenia’s possible participation in certain regional projects it is advisable through the prism of building long-term relationships, taking into account the interests of the parties. The move would show that in the negotiation process begins a new stage — the co-operation with a view to resolving the Karabakh conflict.
Yerevan comes to the realization that today and tomorrow defines the economy, and the political priorities and will depend on economic interests. Hence some change Armenia’s position on the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The geopolitical situation in the region «Greater Caucasus» fundamentally changed and will change in the future. Yerevan will be increasingly difficult to get out of isolation, and its prolongation will lead to even greater stagnation state. It seems that in Yerevan understand it, and a way out of the crisis seen in the establishment of economic relations with all its neighbors and integrate into the regional economy. But here is whether such understanding will bring the solution of Karabakh problem?
Rauf Rajabov, Orientalist, Head of Analytical Center 3RD VIEW, Baku, Azerbaijan