By Masis MayIlian
Chairman of the Public Council
for Foreign and Security Policy of Artsakh
The OSCE Summit in Astana can be considered as a starting event of the last “negotiating year.” That forum did not provide any breakthrough document on Karabakh, as far as appropriate conditions within Artsakh, Azerbaijani and Armenian societies had not been created and there were no external conditions for it. In particular, international mediators were not ready to present new approaches or proposals, based on the contemporary realities in the international law.
In Astana, the heads of delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries and the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents confined themselves with making a Joint statement. These officials supported the peaceful settlement of the conflict and urged the parties to take additional steps to enforce the ceasefire and carry out confidence building measures in all spheres.
Although the Presidents ofArmeniaandAzerbaijanadopted a joint document, their bilateral meeting did not take place during theSummit, and their speeches were full of bilateral accusations. The regular OSCE Summit, that was organized only 11 years after the previous one (meanwhile the meetings of the heads of states and governments of the OSCE participating countries must be organized once in two years) and finished with just a Commemorative Declaration by the participating states without any agreed action plan, displayed the existing crisis within the OSCE, an organization that mediates the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
Thus the Karabakh “negotiating year” started against the backdrop of serious contradictions both among the parties to the conflict and within the organization, conducting the mediation mission.
The tension between the parties to the conflict was escalated by Baku up to the March meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents in Sochi under the mediation of their Russian colleague. Due to the growing tension and possible destabilization of the situation, some European countries recommended their citizens not to visit the area of the Karabakh conflict.
The agreements on the exchange of prisoners of war and investigation of possible incidents along the ceasefire line, reached in Sochi, a little relieved the situation in the region.
In 2011 the June summit in Kazan became the second meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents with participation of President Medvedev. During that meeting it was planned to adopt the Basic or so called “Madrid principles” of the settlement and appropriate elements for them.
The reaction of the Artsakh public to the possible adoption of the “Madrid principles” in Kazan was extremely negative. On the eve of the meeting the Nagorno Karabakh non-governmental organizations made statements, pointing out that the NKR civil society has no intention to recognize any documents to be signed by the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents according to the mentioned settlement principles. The “Madrid principles” were considered as unacceptable and fully contradicting the national interest of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. The NGOs expressed their confidence that no interstate agreement can have any legal force if aimed at limitation of the fundamental human rights and concluded under the threat of the use of force or economic enforcement.
Thus a pressure has been exerted on the Armenian authorities to abandon the idea of signing the framework document.
Before the meeting in Kazan also a foreign pressure was exerted on the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents, but now to achieve signing the proposed document. The Dauville statement, made a month before the Kazan meeting by the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, insisting that the time came for all parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to take a decisive step toward the peaceful settlement, can be considered as an example of pressure. Presidents Obama, Medvedev and Sarkozy stressed the further delay with the adoption of the Basic principles would only call into question the commitment of the sides to reach the agreement. On the eve of the meeting President Obama had telephone conversations with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents. Both leaders also received special messages from President Sarkozy.
The parties did not sign a framework document on the Basic principles during their meeting in Kazan, but confirmed a progress on the way to that end. The trilateral summit in the Tatarstans’ capital once again demonstrated that the settlement cannot be reached on the basis of previous approaches.
It is necessary to note that the countries, co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as the parties of the negotiations did not abandon the “Madrid” proposals yet. These principles were once again mentioned in the Joint Statements of the heads of the delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries and the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, made at the OSCE Ministerial meeting in Vilnius on December, 2011.
In order to reach a real progress in the peace process, the mediators of the Karabakh conflict apparently should take into account the available new precedents in the international relations and new reality in the international law.
In the recent years we have already argued for revision of the philosophy of the Artsakh settlement. After Kazan, the needs of revision of the approaches to the settlement and the mediation format have been actualized. The number of experts supporting a new methodology for the Artsakh settlement is growing. Hopefully the coming slowdown in the negotiating process will be effectively used by the centers concerned for elaboration of new approaches and principles.
If the Minsk Group does not revision its comprehension of the settlement, it will have to cede the role of mediator to others.
In 2011 the peace process was accompanied with numerous violations of the ceasefire regime, caused military losses. The official Baku was guided by the formula: “Peace on the Azerbaijani conditions or war.”
The continuation of the sniper war and Azerbaijan’s evasion from elaboration of an international mechanism for observation and control of the ceasefire regime are derivatives of the above-mentioned Azerbaijani formula. The appeals of the US Secretary general, Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE and other international figures to withdraw the snipers from the frontline can be heard and implemented in case if Azerbaijan gives up its war blackmailing policy or the war diplomacy. Armenia and NKR have already declared that they are ready to pull back the snipers, but the Armenian states are unable to do so unilaterally.
Azerbaijan does not stop killings on the cease-fire line and escalates the situation, so Armenia and NKR should undertake active counter-actions not only in the military sphere, but also on the political and diplomatic level. As a result of the targeted and consistent work, the Azerbaijani authorities should be put into such conditions that their orders to kill while the cease-fire regime is on, have extremely negative political consequences for the official Baku. Each shot from Azerbaijan should make the international recognition of NKR closer.
The peace process will be most probably moved to the background in the near future, formally because of the coming electoral period: presidential elections are scheduled for 2012-2013 in the three mediating states, co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, and in the countries, parties to the conflict: NKR, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
However, as the experience shows, it is not the elections, but some other factors are the problem. For example, the tough internal and external parameters of the existing status quo, the outdated approaches of the OSCE mediators that they use in the Karabakh settlement, the crisis in the mediator organization, the distorted format of the talks, etc.
The development of the situation in the coming years may have various scenarios. For example, the status quo, based on the present balance of forces, may be preserved. It is necessary to stress that maintaining the balance means keeping stability.
Another possible scenario: resumption of the war by Azerbaijan. The obvious fact is that the threat to peace and regional stability comes from Baku, if we rule out the developments related to the neighboring Iran.
The war perspective can be prevented by such a scenario as the international recognition of the NKR independence. The contemporary experience shows that the recognition of new states is the most effective mechanism to guarantee a long-term stability in the conflict zones. There is an understanding that the conflict can be completely settled as soon as the NKR is recognized by Azerbaijan.
As far as official Baku is not ready to recognize the fundamental rights of the NKR citizens and the right of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to exist, preservation of peace in the region remains a pressing problem.
In order to prevent a new war, the Armenian states and Diaspora organizations should actively initiate the “second track” of the process aimed at keeping peace in the region: such activity has to be held simultaneously with the peace process with the aim of international recognition of the NKR. Some modest steps in this direction were taken in 2011.
The escalation of the tension in Syria in combination with probable armed aggression against the neighboring Iran will undoubtedly change the external parameters of the present status quo and lead to destabilization of our region. So the NKR and Armenia should be ready to address these new challenges and have a detailed plan of actions to neutralize possible external threats.
1. Joint Statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries and the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, http://www.osce.org/home/74234
2. “The Analyticon,” Karabakh settlement – 2011, p. 20-22, http://theanalyticon.com/?lang=ru
3. The Joint Statement of the Presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Armenia and Russian Federation on the Nagorno Karabakh settlement, http://news.kremlin.ru/ref_notes/882
4. The Nagorno Karabakh public has no intention to recognize the document to be signed in Kazan, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/187744/?print=true
Statement of the participants of the Discussion Club under the “Helsinki Initiative-92” Nagorno Karabakh Committe,” http://www.hca.nk.am/engine/print.php?newsid=371&news_page=1
5. Joint statement of the Presidents of Russia, France and US on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
6. Joint Statement by the Heads of Delegation of the Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries and the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, http://www.mid.ru/bdomp/brp_4.nsf/sps/E5E4EA869CF23A8A4425795E0050F424
7. M. Mayilian, M.Sargsyan “The imperatives for revision of the principles of settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict,” http://theanalyticon.com/?p=682&lang=ru
8. Stepanakert and Yerevan will not play by Baku rules, http://www.newcaucasus.com/index.php?newsid=4580
9. The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed in Sochi “…to strive to solve all contentious issues through peaceful means and to conduct along the cease-fire line an investigation with the participation of the parties under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and with the assistance of the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office regarding probable incidents. ”
10. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan: The military diplomacy supports the progressive course of the talks on Karabakh, http://pda.regnum.ru/news/1398476.html