Yesterday RFE/RL reported that the foreign minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, made a public statement in which he underlined Baku’s stance on the future of Nagorno-Karabagh. Azerbaijan demands that the self-declared republic be returned to their control, 15 years after the cease fire.
Here are excerpts from the article:
Azerbaijan insists on the restoration of its control over Nagorno-Karabakh despite accepting peoples’ right to self-determination as one of the core principles for resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov indicated on Wednesday.
“Providing self-governance for Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan will be a just and durable solution, and it can dramatically reduce tensions and challenges for peace and stability in the region,” Mammadyarov said in a speech at a ministerial conference in Athens of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Um, that would essentially revive the autonomous status that the region had during Soviet times, the same status that was imposed on it in the 1920s. In other words, in such an agreement Armenia would essentially be reneging on the victories of the people of Nagorno-Karabagh and their struggles to earn self-determination/independence. Everything would revert to the way things were. It would be as if the war was fought for nothing.
The article goes on to explain that:
Speaking at the OSCE forum later in the day, Nalbandian accused Mammadyarov of seeking to “distort” the essence of the Karabakh dispute and international efforts to resolve it. That, he said, is hampering further progress in the peace process.
Still, both ministers noted that the parties have moved closer to hammering out a compromise peace accord. “I should admit that there are positive dynamics in the latest talks and both sides together with the Minsk Group Co-chairs agreed to intensify negotiations,” said Mammadyarov.
The OSCE Minsk Group released the following statement on December 1:
“The Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of France Bernard Kouchner, and Deputy Secretary of State of the United States James Steinberg met in Athens on December 1 with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov and Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian.
The five Heads of Delegation recalled the commitments in the November 2008 Moscow Declaration and the December 2008 Helsinki OSCE Ministerial Statement. They noted the positive dynamic in the talks, demonstrated through six meetings this year between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. They agreed that the increasing frequency of these meetings has significantly contributed to an enhanced dialogue between the parties and forward movement toward finalizing the Basic Principles for the Peaceful Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, proposed in Madrid on November 29, 2007.
Foreign Ministers Lavrov and Kouchner and Deputy Secretary Steinberg reiterated the commitment of their countries, as expressed in the Joint Statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the L’Aquila Summit of the Eight on July 10, issued by their three Presidents, to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they complete work on the Basic Principles and urged that the parties complete this work as soon as possible. They stressed that agreement on the Basic Principles would provide the framework for a comprehensive settlement to promote a future of peace, stability, and prosperity for the entire region.
The Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan reported on progress during the course of this year in achieving common understandings on points of the Basic Principles. They stated the willingness of their countries to complete work on the Basic Principles, as stipulated by the Presidents of the Co-Chair countries at L’Aquila. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work intensively to resolve the remaining issues, to reach an agreement based, in particular, upon the principles of the Helsinki Final Act of Non-Use of Force or Threat of Force, Territorial Integrity, and the Equal Rights and Self-Determination of Peoples.”
I would like to know what the hell Prime Minister Nalbandian has been doing during these recent talks. How could he possibly admit that “progress” has been made in reaching a peace deal? The negotiations are moving backward, not forward. The proposals being laid on the table are unacceptable, even absurd for the Armenian side to accept. Why is Nalbandian continuing to entertain his Azerbaijani counterpart and the Minsk Group and any longer, what is the point in all of this? Why is President Sarkisian–who is a native of Nagorno-Karabagh–swallowing these proposals as being acceptable? From what has been revealed by the press, there are only a few minor things that need to be ironed out for the Madrid Principles to become a reality. I would love to know what they are.
There is no point for the Armenian side to continue the negotiations. The Minsk Group has always shamelessly ignored the leadership of Nagorno-Karabagh as being a legitimate party to the peace process. By agreeing to continue negotiations despite these comments by Mammadyarov and President Aliyev’s repeated bellicose statements that Nagorno-Karabagh would be won by force if necessary (most recently reiterated after his pointless meeting with President Sarkisian on November 23 in Munich), Armenia is digging a deeper hole for itself that it will have difficulty surviving in.
In the meantinme, Turkey is breathing down Armenia’s neck by insisting that an opened border would be contingent upon a swift resolution to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. Armenia was hoping that trade would begin directly across the border by next spring, which obviously means something needs to be signed fast.
Why is Armenia playing these games? Is Yerevan indeed ready to go through with this or is it simply expressing a willingness to cooperate, while playing the waiting game for Baku to back out of the negotiations as it has time and time again in the past? Does Yerevan really believe that Baku would not dare to resume the war? What’s to stop it from doing so?
These are dangerous times for Armenia. Why don’t people wake up?