Monthly Review - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 0:02 - 0 Comments
Digest of Azerbaijani Media for Feb 15-26
by News Digest
The newspaper reports on the confirmation of large- scale military exercise carried out in the occupied Azerbaijani territories by the separatist regime of Nagorno- Karabakh. According to the reports, exercises would last till February 19th.
Azerbaijan’s political scientist, Fikret Sadikhov, confirmed predictions made by the International Crisis Group in its recent report evaluating the Karabakh conflict. Sadikhov noted, that perhaps finally European political scientists understand the reality of the conflict.
Judging the last 20 years of conflict, Sadikhov said Armenia doesn’t want release the occupied territories while all international parties involved in the resolution of the conflict remain indifferent to the situation. Given such circumstances, Azerbaijan has no other choice.
Recently, Azerbaijani President gave an interview to Russian’s Mir Interstate TV and Radio Company, this interview and things Aliyev said there only thwart the negotiation process said Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan.
Deputy referred to a document dating to September 1993 signed by the acting president Heydar Aliyev giving certain powers to Vice Chairman of the Supreme Council A. Jalilov. Based on these powers, Jalilova and the then foreign minister of Nagorno- Karabakh Republic Arkady Ghukazyan held talks. The paragraphs goes to outline the details of the talks and eventually led to Bishkek agreement signed in Moscow between Heydar Aliyev and Robert Kocharyan. This, said Shavarsh, means that Azerbaijan already recognized Nagorno- Karabakh Republic by simply getting involved in these talks.
Deputy foreign minister called on the Azerbaijani authorities to keep Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the loop of the negotiations.
Poland’s ambassador to Azerbaijan believes that resolution of the Karabakh conflict must be done by peaceful means only. In addition, the ambassador noted that this conflict should not be termed as frozen. Mikhail Labenda, also expressed his hope, that with joint efforts of Minks group, and the two sides of the conflict, solution satisfying both countries will be reached.
While speaking at the “U.S. strategy towards the South Caucasus and the Caspian Sea” conference, Azerbaijan’s Consul General in L.A. Elin Suleymanov, noted importance of the Karabakh conflict and its further implications on the overall development of the region. While the two countries were close to reaching an agreement in 1999 in Istanbul, no concrete results were achieved. Eleven years later, meeting in Astana (2010) too could have led to certain solutions but once again the process failed. Consul General saw lack of common political will as the main obstacle to failing resolve the conflict.
Confidence building measures are set as a priority for the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Protracted Conflicts Giedrius Cekuolis. One of the first steps that must be taken emphasized Cekuolis is removal of snipers from the contact line. For trust, bloodshed must be prevented. He also stressed the fact that there can be no other solution but peaceful to Karabakh conflict.
NEWS.az interviewed Andrei Rayevski, editor-in-chief of Russian news agency Mediafax. In his interview, Rayevski, spoke on the unsuccessful past 18 years of negotiations and inability to reach some common ground. He also pointed out to factors as none of the Misnk Group co-chairs- Russia, US or France, pressuring Armenia up to this day to liberate occupied territories, which is according to Rayevski is largely due to large Armenian Diaspora living in these countries. It is partially for this reason, that Azerbaijan should forget Russia pressuring Armenian or in fact any other country that is party of the Minsk group.
Rayevski also commented on the military capabilities of the two countries, saying Azerbaijan doesn’t stand a chance against Armenia that is backed up by Russia, unless, Azerbaijan teams up with Turkey.
In the context of different players and different circumstances, Rayevski also noted that there is no guarantee for Russia not recognizing Nagorno Karabakh, especially after it recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Russia, Eynulla Madatli, said during an interview in Kiev that Azerbaijan can change its involvement in talks over Karabakh process if Armenia continues to prolong its decision making within the Madrid principles. Ambassador noted that currently official Baku is looking at a number of different variants to resolve the conflict and restore its territorial integrity. Madatli added that Azerbaijan would want that there was peace and that all three countries- Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia lived in good neighborly relations.
Aleksandr Skakov, Russian expert, believes changes for an outbreak of military actions in the Southern Caucasus is high especially if nothing is done by not only Russia, but also the West. Skakov, considers some kind of a harsh statement, or steps taken on behalf of the Minsk Group crucial. Because according to the expert, of nothing is done, then it is likely that closer to autumn of this year, possibility for war will be higher.
Expert also commented on the length of a military outbreak- ten days, two weeks at most. “No one would allow for more fighting. And in these two weeks, none of the sides will be able to get some kind of solution. What will follow afterwards, will be a number of harsh statements and steps, peacekeeping forces would be brought into the region and the situation will freeze”.
Given that Karabakh is small, and more pressing conflicts- Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan- the West is paying little attention to what is gong in Karabakh says British expert, James Nixi. According to the expert, while many experts believe that Karbaakh is one of the most dangerous conflicts in the region, not much of attention is given to this conflict. Nixi also noted that the role of the Minsk Group is rather small, as he considers the decisiveness and understanding from the two sides to the conflict more crucial in this conflict than any role played by third parties. “For the conflict to resolve, the two countries must want to end the conflict, be more self critical and understand positions of each other” adding that “the West can only help”.
Peter Semneby said he doesn’t agree with a statement that no progress was achieved in the resolution of Karabakh conflict. “There is progress” he said “just not as serious as majority was expecting”. However, he also added, that one, cannot rule out the possibility of a start of military actions. “I am not talking about planned actions, but we cannot rule out, that one of such incidents [referring to the shootings on the ceasefire line] could lead to an escalation of the situation” he said.
Semneby also noted that Karabakh is becoming a more serious topic for the European Union and that the Union will continue paying closer attention to this conflict and look for ways to support OSCE’s Minsk Group in finding a way out.
In her remarks during commemoration of the genocide, Ombudsman Elmira Suleymanova, said no concrete measures were taken against terrorist acts committed by Armenia. Suleymanova added, that in a world when countries are working towards general peace, Armenian authorities, carrying out ethnic cleansing, terror and violence policies which negatively affect the overall peace- making processes in the Southern Caucasus and overall in Europe.
Ombudsman called on the international structures to apply sanctions against Armenia. The occupant country must leave the occupied territories and comply with international norms, said Suleymanova.
Head of the Analytical center on globalization and regional cooperation, Stepan Grigoryan believes that because the level of trust between the sides of the conflict is low any artificial speed up in talks, might lead to an outbreak of war. He reminded of the Georgia example.
In an article published on NEWS.az it appears that Grigoryan is highly skeptical of any peace agreement reached between the two countries as they stand too far fro each other’s principles. Grigoryan sees acceleration of Karabakh talks the result of uprisings taking place in the Arab world [NEWS.az, Feb. 24, ENG].
Fikret Sadikhov, political scientist from Azerbaijan, appeared pessimistic while speaking on upcoming trilateral meeting between the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia in Sochi in March. Sadikhov underlined the reasons of growing interest on international level due to certain implications that would come with the outbreak of a war- from loss of control over the situation to missing out on controlling the negotiations and raising its role in the region.
It is because of recent tensions on the front line, that Karabakh became a pressing issue on international level said Sadikhov. Political scientist also stressed the importance Caspian hydrocarbon reserves carry for the West, in the aftermath of recent clashes and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.
Contrary to Sadikhov, head of the Noravank center Gagik Harutunyan, appears hopeful of the upcoming meeting in Sochi, as he believes the meeting should be focused on finding measures to defuse tension in the conflict zone. Harutunyan while saying that Karabakh conflict is potential flashpoint, was hoping that this status quo will change, given U.S. interests in soon resolution of the conflict [NEWS.az, Feb. 23, ENG].
Yashar Jafarli spoke to NEWS.az on the possible outbreak of war and the implications for both of the countries. Jafarli, who is military expert, said it wont be Armenia starting the war, but Azerbaijan. However, he noted, Azerbaijan wont initiate any military actions due to Russia’s involvement in this conflict.
According to Jafarli, Armenia would ‘collapse before the start of military actions’ because of the country’s inability to ‘declare overall mobilization’ not to mentioned, Armenia’s absence of economic as well as human capital for raising military composition.
Amanda Paul, Policy Analyst spoke with NEWS.az on Karabakh conflict and the role international players are playing in the settlement of the conflict. According to Paul, Southern Caucasus and its conflicts are not on the priority list of the U.S. politics as the country’s foreign policy is more concerned with Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and most recently North Africa. Russia on the other is the dominant actors, and the only actor in fact, carrying out the peace talks. However, what is not known is what’s in it for Russia- surely it is aware that with a breakthrough in conflict it would lose influence over both countries.
Eventually, Paul said, Armenia will have to be honest and live up to the fact that it has occupied Azerbaijani territories and that these territories must be returned. However she noted, any peace deal, wont be signed in another 15 years, and so it is hard to say who will do what down the line.
In his interview with Day.az, Isazade, pointed at the responsibility current President of Armenia Serj Sargsyan, and the Minister of Security Seyran Oganyan carried in the mass killings in February against peaceful residents of Khodjali. He noted that while Armenian soldiers who were there and committing those crimes, might feel the guilt, their leaders, namely the president and the minister and other commanders in charge, are living on their lives guilt free.
Isazade also noted that while a number of civil society activists and others apologized personally for the mass killings, they too were targets of criticism back in Armenia. And since, leaders’ too depend on wider public opinion and support, they cannot take on a rhetoric that would damage their popularity.
Andrey Areshev, editor-in-chief of an online community said that to name a time frame is not really correct as one needs to take into account a number of different factors- players outside of this region are not interested in having another war and are so much political and diplomatic work is carried out in maintaining the current status- quo. Not to mention, he added new proposals for the regulation of the conflict.
Philip Crowley, U.S. State Department spokesman said U.S. administration wants the countries of the Southern Caucasus resolve tensions. While acknowledging certain stalls in the negotiation process, U.S. intends to actively engage with these countries, encouraging them to find alternative ways to settle certain issues. It is with this intention, that U.S. First Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg is visiting Armenian and Azerbaijan- “to promote easing tensions in the region and settlement of Karabakh conflict”.
During his visit [Feb. 23-24] together with U.S. Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon, the two representatives discussed Karabakh conflict noting “positive trends” and US intention to contribute to further developments in the negotiation process. Commenting on the activities of the Minsk Group, U.S. diplomat dismissed the argument that Russia assumed dominant role in this process. He noted that all Minsk Group co- chairs are working equally hard. U.S. representatives stressed that the only way to resolve this conflict is through peaceful means, which “is in the interests of all regional players [TREND.az, Feb. 25, ENG].
News.az interviewed Dr. Sean Farren, politician from Northern Ireland on similarities and differences between Karabakh and N. Ireland conflict prior to his visit Baku. Farren, while talking about N. Ireland, said it was unfortunate that in this particular case, differences were pushed so far that conflict was inevitable resulting in suffering of communities, deaths, displacements and what not.
And while the two conflicts are different, Farren drew on parallels whereby the interests of all sides to the conflict were taken into account, which made the basis of the 1998 agreement that was complex in nature. He noted, that the people of Nagorno Karabakh should be present during the negotiation process especially when the discussion is on right to self- determination and every other agreement.
Farren also stressed that war won’t solve anything and ultimately the two sides will have to sit down and come with another resolution. And the role of outside actors, could be influential especially in persuading the sides of the conflict to reach common ground.
The online newspaper, reports on fire being opened from Armenia according to reports of Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry. No casualties were reported.
Similar report was made on February 24th, 23rd, 21st, 18th, when Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry reported of other ceasefire violations. No casualties were reported [TREND.az, Feb. 25, ENG; TREND.az, Feb. 24, ENG; TREND.az, Feb. 22, ENG; TREND.az, Feb. 19, ENG
In another shooting on February 20th and one on February 17th, two Azerbaijani soldiers were wounded reports TREND.az [ENG] and TREND.az [ENG]. An Azerbaijani soldier died in another shooting on February 20th.
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