Monthly Review - Saturday, January 15, 2011 0:03 - 1 Comment
Digest of Azerbaijani Media for Jan 4-14
by News Digest
Elmar Mammadyarov speaks of NK conflict and Azerbaijan’s place in the international community in an interview with a Mexican newspaper “The News”. In his interview, he mentions how much work does the embassies of Azerbaijan and its other representatives put into disseminating information about the country, the war and the current status of the resolution process.
He believes that some of the key countries involved in the resolution process, namely US, Russia, and France don’t pressure Armenian government enough to release occupied territories and thus respect Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The foreign minister also spoke of a possible resolution to war if all diplomatic means fail.
The newspaper interviews Armenian political scientist Aleksandr Iskandaryan who believes that Armenia’s recognition of Karabakh is unlikely. In fact, this- the fact that Armenia hasn’t recognized NK- is the card that Armenia is willing to pay in order for the dialogue continue within the Minsk Group framework. Iskandaryan also strongly believes that war is not possible. And it does happen it will only last for 10 days and wont change anything except than massive losses for both sides- communication lines, economically viable locations, more replaced people and of course deaths.
Speaking of OSCE/Minsk group and its role in the conflict, political scientist said it would be naïve to expect that Minsk Group will resolve the conflict. What Minsk group does instead is sustain meetings of foreign ministers, diplomats, and presidents; inclusion of the conflict into larger contexts.
In the light of recent official rhetoric in Azerbaijan to raise awareness and “deliver true information” on NK and events prior to the conflict, Azerbaijan’s General Prosecutor website, launched a new section on Sumgayit progroms. According to this article, the website fill feature “the real essence of the crimes committed” and facts about what really happened in Sumgayit in 1988.
The newspaper reports of a British travel agency wanting to organize tours to Nagorno Karabakh. According to the article, the tour was cancelled following a phone call from the Azerbaijani Embassy in the UK warning the company that any visit as such would result as violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The article provides an overview of countries that are part of the negotiation process and their 2011 international and domestic policies that will in one way or another result in their little attention given to the Southern Caucasus let alone the NK conflict. According to the author of the article, it is in these circumstances that Russia will no doubt preserve its role as the “most active mediator”.
A rather positive stance on the settlement of NK conflict is expressed in this article by an Armenian International expert Irina Gaparyan. According to Gaparyan, the belief that Azerbaijanis and Armenians are incompatible can be overcome so long as there is a desire to do so.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov says 2011 will be crucial in bringing the conflict of NK to the international attention. As part of Azeraijan’s diplomacy to liberate Karabakh and thus, Azerbaijani diplomats will be using every opportunity to prove the world that Karabakh should be liberated from its occupiers according to the international law requirements.
As violations of ceasefire on the front line continue, the two defense ministries continue blaming and dismissing each other’s statements of continuous violations. As such, in yet another similar statement, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, “Azerbaijan is committed to the ceasefire and we do not break it. On the contrary, over the past two days the Armenian side violated the ceasefire regime and a solider of the Azerbaijani army got injured as a result” [January 6th, ENG]. The statement came as a reaction to reports from the Armenian side of Azerbaijani Armed Forces violating the ceasefire regime on the night of the 7th and 8th of January at least 30 times.
Surprisingly, TREND.az also reports in another article published on January 7th, [ENG] of Armenian Armed Forces violating the ceasefire by opening fire in Berd region of Armenia.
In another article published on January 7th, this time by NEWS.az and titled “End of relative calm on Azerbaijani- Armenian front line?” [ENG] Ministry Spokesman Lt- Col. Eldar Sabiroglu “said that the break in the ceasefire had shattered the relatively long period of quiet along the contact line”. The article also presents respond by Sabiroglu to recent threats made by Karabakh Separatist leader Bako Sahakyan that Karabakh is ready for massive counter- attack at any time. Sabiroglu says these statements are most probably the result of Armenia’s ruling circles.
Alexander Lukyanov answers questions by DAY.az. According to Lukyanov, the fact that no solution has been reached doesn’t mean anything and that the sides still have a chance to come to a conclusion. Especially as relations between Yerevan and Ankara continue to move forward. If add Iranian factor to this equation then things are bound to change. According to Lukyanov, if the situation around Iran worsens, and requires more action, then the West and Israel will need more Azerbaijan’s support than it would Armenian. And in this case Azerbaijan might pressure the west on the Karabakh conflict.
Lukyanov believes that possible escalation of war is also out of question, unless of course, none of the above takes on a full scale.
Arif Yunus, political scientists, believes that 2011, will be another slow year in terms of NK settlement especially as there will be most probably more meetings between the sides and vague statements made by the OSCE that the sides are moving in the right direction. It is also groundless to speak of war says Yunus.
Phil Gamaghelyan, managing editor of the Journal of Conflict Transformation (www.caucasusedition.net) speaks about the conflict and its prospects in 2011. According to Gamaghelyan 2010 was an unsuccessful year for Karabakh settlement especially given that the beginning of 2010 was more promising given the unveiling of Georgia- Russia war and changing geopolitical environment. In fact, the beginning of 2010, was an opportunity missed by the leaders of the two countries to use actually use this opportunity for reaching any progress on the settlement of the conflict.
And thus, in 2011, if the two countries, manage to stay out of war than that should be considered a development. “The priority, for 2011, still, is the prevention of conflict, not resolution” says Gamaghelyan.
Both countries should regard the conflict as a common problem and solve it together rather than rely on third parties. Though if that’s the case the two sides should act quicker.
Changing the hostile language is a key in moving forward. And not just on the political level, but also changing the hostile language that is widely spread in education, media and what not.
Similarly [January 7th, ENG], Tabib Huseynov, Caucasus Analyst at the International Crisis Group, believes, “2010 was a year of missed opportunity for both Armenian and Azerbaijan to begin peacefully transforming the regional status quo in a mutually beneficial way”. In his interview with NEWS.az Huseynov refers to 2010 as a year when expected breakthrough in the resolution of NK conflict as replaced with nationalist backlash, and negative rhetoric on both sides.
According to Huseynov however, it wasn’t all “too bad” in 2010, especially if we remember Azerbaijan’s endorsement of the basic principles document; June Muskoka joint statement of the presidents of France, Russian and the US; and one last joint statement made in December by Armenia, Azerbaijan and the three mediator countries (France, US and Russia) in Astana.
Unlike Huseynov and Gamagheylan, others, like Azer Babayev, researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, believes it is the West that is the sole role player in this conflict [January 5th, ENG]. According to Babayev, “the main reason for the continued occupation of Azerbaijani land by Armenia is the failure of the Western superpowers to condemn this policy […] In other words, it should be explained to Armenia that this conflict can be settled only on the basis of compromise and the continued occupation of land is inadmissible”. Babayev believes that to be able to exercise such influence on the West, Baku must strategically use its energy capital for influence, referring to projects like Nabucco and the importance West attaches to this project.
According to Tair Rzayev, an Azeri PM, current status of NK settlement reached a dead-end. And it is mostly due to Armenian position in this settlement process and ineffectiveness of international organizations, namely OSCE and UN. Rzayev also noted Azerbaijan’s current status as a country comparing it to the country when the first Karabakh war took place- its not the same not to mention that the situation in the region is not the same either.
He called on the Armenian government and the international organizations to take into account the fact that Azerbaijan is no longer the same, that it grew stronger and war will result in a lot more losses not only for both countries but also on a larger international scale.
If international organizations fail to pressure Yerevan to return Azerbaijan lands, then, it is possible that in 2011, Azerbaijan righteously will use its army and return Karabakh as well as occupied territories.
While the title of this article suggests different angle to the resolution of the conflict, it fails to provide full argument as it focuses instead on Azerbaijan’s successful economic development and moderate Muslim country. Published originally by the Diplomat and International Canada and authored by the dean of the School of International Relations at Carleton University, titled “Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia: East vs. West” the version re- published in NEWS.az only at the end mentions the Diaspora aspect and its obstacle failing to present any further information supporting this statement.
The article writes of a book recently published by the Head of the Azerbaijan Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehtiyev. The book titled “View point- 2010: season of absurd theatre” dismissed any historical facts often referred to by the Aremian President Sargysan.
According to the article this book is “is a timely and worthy respond to failed attempts of ungifted speechwriters of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyna”.
It is yet unknown whether Azerbaijan’s permanent mission will circulate OSCE’s final field assessment report on the occupied lands. It was Azerbaijan who urged for UN to call for the OSCE to send the assessment mission to the occupied territories however now, Azerbaijan would only discuss the report once it familiarizes itself with the report.
This is from an interview with Russian political scientists Aleksey Mukhin, head of the Center of Political Information. Mukhin while answering the question on who is actually interested in the resolution of NK conflict, said it is US, Russia and Turkey that are interested the most given that each of these countries is trying exercise their own regional interests. Mukhin believes that once perspectives of ‘Souther stream’ and ‘Nabucco’ projects are fully cleared up then the settlement of NK conflict will also gain clearer perspectives.
Mukhin also spoke of OSCE’s role in the conflict seeing at as rather weak part of the bigger equation- its simply there because it has to show some kind of interest to it so that it doesn’t fall out of the bigger equation.
And regarding Armenia and its role in the conflict, Mukhin said the country will continue to play rather passive role, since it doesn’t poses any real abilities for the resolution of the conflict and obliged to hide behind Russia, carry on dialogue with Armenian Diaspora in Russia and US.
Sergey Minasyan, director of Caucasus Institute, talks about referendum in Karabakh and its further delay in holding a referendum while comparing its status with that of Sudan. Given that international community was involved in Sudan since 2000, the situation there was different from NK. Therefore, the referendum in Karabakh should not be delayed any longer, in fact, referendum should have been held there in the beginning of the 90s.
This is the title of an interview with Azerbaijani parliament member Ulvi Guliyev, who claims that Azerbaijan is winning the information war over Armenia. According to Guliyev, the term- information warfare- that was once brought up by an American expert Thomas Rona can easily apply to Azerbaijan and Armenia as Azerbaijan tires to “bring the truth about the reasons and outcomes of the Armenian- Azerbaijani conflict over NK to the attention of the world community.
The hard rhetoric of the interview ends with optimistic notes of Azerbaijan’s strong position in the information warfare over Armenia.
(RFE/RL) Radio Liberty Azerbaijan Service
This is how Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov sees statements made during UN and OSCE meetings. According to Lavrov, whenever institutions like the UN and OSCE get involved in this (resolution) process, the debate moves from being effective discussions to notable arguments and results in further moving sides to the conflict apart rather than drive them closer.
By expressing such view, Lavrov tried emphasizing the important role Russia has been playing in the resolution process of this conflict.
In this press statement, Lavrov also noted an upcoming meeting [January 13th, AZ] of Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers later in January.
Leader of Armenia’s Liberal Party Ovanes Ovanisyan believes that Russia’s position will change soon in the settlement of NK conflict, and it wont benefit Armenia in any way. These changes will largely be the result of changing geopolitical interests of Russia and surely, in this context, it wont benefit Russia to ruin its relations with Azerbaijan. Adding that Armenia doesn’t hold such advantages as does Russia especially as it has “given everything that’s possible and impossible to Russia.
President of Armenia, approved the amendments to the law “On international treaties”. With this law, Armenia will now be able to ratify agreements and other contracts with Nagorno- Karabakh in the parliament.
In meeting with President Aliyev, the President of EU Commission Jose Manuel Barrosso explicitly stated his support of the peaceful resolution of the NK conflict within the OSCE Minks Group framework, expressing his “concern over the plight of people affected by the conflict”.
Once the final settlement agreement is reached, EU would provide all the assistance required for re- building infrastructure said Barrosso in his meeting.
As a follow to Russia’s Foreign Minster’s Lavrov statement of a possible meeting of foreign ministers this January, TREND.az writes that the meeting was scheduled for January 24 in Moscow. According to the Armenian FM, there will be another meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group co- chairmen in early February as well.
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