15 Oct 2010
Three Reasons the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Must Be Resolved
The turmoil and subsequent combat over the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh has brought much havoc and turned into a frozen, smoldering or napping conflict, as it has been variously worded. With more than two decades having passed, the dust hasn’t begun to settle, and the Karabakh conflict is still faring worse, causing intermittent and irreversible losses and, what is worse, claiming human lives and distorting fates.
Unfortunately this issue isn’t fait accompli yet as long as Azerbaijan and Armenia still have claims — no matter whether or not they fit the bill. Attempts to take a deeper look into the history in an effort to clarify the ins and outs of the issue and, therefore, identify the roots of the conflict have proved unproductive with both sides filling in the blanks with their own story, distorting and excluding the other side’s version of things, and shifting the battle also into a war of information.
In point of fact, Armenians and Azerbaijanis are implicated in this conflict despite their will. The more we talk at cross purposes with each other, the deeper we will get stuck in this standoff. Because this is not a sink or swim situation — as long as human lives are concerned, the quickest possible resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict obtains utmost importance. Suffice to say, any delay can have unforeseeable consequences. But given the negotiation process is moving at a snail’s pace — at least based on the information made public after every round of talks — the settlement of this issue gains far more significance and, naturally enough, runs in accord with the interests of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Karabakh, too.
Unfortunately, there are not any ready-made solutions to offer, given the sensitivity of the conflict and the complexity of the current geopolitical situation. But here are some reasons why the Karabakh issue must be resolved as soon as possible.
Politics is the front-line aspect of the Karabakh conflict that has seen much speculation. A final settlement of this conflict will deprive the authorities both in Armenia and Azerbaijan of the long-lasting chance to use the conflict as a tool to retain power. The Karabakh issue is especially problematic for the Azerbaijani authorities as a party that has lost the war and some territories, including districts outside of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the non-stop belligerence both by the Azerbaijani and Armenian leadership is proof of the speculation.
The resolution of the Karabakh conflict will result in more favorable conditions for democratic governance, as the authorities in both countries might instead of war-related issues engage in other vital ones essential for the general welfare of their respective countries.
The economy is perhaps one of the important aspect that suffers most from this protracted conflict. Just imagine how much the economy in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Karabakh would grow if all the money currently being used for the arms race and army modernization were injected into their economies.
This doesn’t necessarily mean Armenia, Karabakh and Azerbaijan shouldn’t have armies, but suppose how many students could get scholarships to study in their countries or abroad with the money spent to buy a fighter plane? Just imagine how many young families would get their own shelters with the money used to buy tanks, how many people would have complete access to proper healthcare, and how many retirees could in their old age live a happy life if that money was spent to improve healthcare and raise retirement benefits instead of buying various kinds of weaponry.
Needless to say, how well the Armenians and Azerbaijanis would do business together had it not been for this current situation. There might of course be some skeptics who would deem that to be unrealistic. But that should not be problematic as Armenians and Azerbaijanis were once trading with each other in the Sadakhlo market in Georgia, even after the Karabakh war, to earn a living. Let alone, some even developed small-scale trade into successful businesses.
When an Azerbaijani colleague once said at a workshop in Georgia that she wanted to live what she called a “full life” — meaning to be able to travel freely — it occurred to me that we are all but the living victims of a partial blockade and isolation with the borders closed due to the Karabakh war and the closure of the other border with Turkey happening by the same token.
Those who had to leave their homes when the turmoil started unraveling have not — for 19 years now — had the chance to go and see them (among them also my relatives who used to live in Nakhichevan). And some of them have probably passed away by now with the unbearable homesickness haunting, lacerating, and killing their souls before any age-related or other illnesses or diseases would take hold of their physical existence.
Simply put, this conflict and its entailed consequences should be resolved, as life is too short to undergo such ordeals, and no single human being deserves exposure to such disadvantageous situations that are second to none when it comes to causing frustration, pain, and anguish. In other words, inaction here is more than a crime and is equal to hammering a nail in one’s own coffin.
Many of those living in the South Caucasus or just the Caucasus in general are kind of envious of the European Union, or of the Schengen zone, as it gives far more favorable conditions for people to live a normal life, to have good jobs and to travel freely — conditions that really deserve due recognition. But I still wonder why can’t there be such a union in the South Caucasus, say the Caucasus Union or the Caucasus zone, for the Caucasians to enjoy equally favorable conditions?
This may sound like a utopia, but it is still not impossible. Europe walked down a long way down that path and underwent crueler battles and unendurable hardship before it became what it is now. Why can’t we learn through others’ examples and on others’ mistakes to make our lives more decent and enjoyable without necessarily passing through all the painstaking and time-consuming processes?