1 Sep 2010
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process has been anything but successful. We can come up with a long list of reasons why it failed – a very long and convincing list. Media, analytical reports and other sources of information engage in producing discourse saturated with words pertaining to fear and anguish – intractability, alert, war, resumption of military confrontation, humanitarian crisis, refugees, arms race, zero progress, etc. Fear is the main driving factor for mobilizing support on both sides of the conflict – in Armenia it serves to mobilize people to back up policies of no compromise, in Azerbaijan it serves to mobilize people to back up the policy of offensive military attack.
The politics of injecting fear into the people offers a post-partum incentive of all “rainbows and butterflies” – the a posteriori scenario of an offensive on Nagorno-Karabakh drawn for Azerbaijani people pictures an ending where Azeri people get to have the NK lands and live on them happily ever after. In this scenario, editors cut out of the script the many lives that will be lost, the post-war collapsed infrastructure of the region, the problems associated with co-habitations with Karabakh Armenians, the possible presence of peace missions, the possible failure of the offensive, the very lengthy road to reconstructing, the not-so-possible international recognition or justification of Azerbaijani military offensive, and most importantly the possible engagement of neighboring countries in the war offensive and the escalation of the war.
The Armenian politics of no compromise offers people another rosy scenario where there will be a big and prosperous Nagorno-Karabakh with all the adjacent lands. The editors of this scenario do not delve into how this would play out, how they are going to achieve independence for Nagorno-Karabakh without any concessions; they cut out of their scenario that the prolonged status quo and lack of proactive politics will lead to a possible resumption of military confrontation by Azerbaijan, which could have dire consequences for both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia; they do not delve into evaluations of how much longer Armenia’s economy can survive in the suffocating conditions of the blockade and almost total isolation of regional energy and transportation projects.
Both Azerbaijani spiteful politics of revanchism and Armenia’s standoffish politics of disdain propagate hostility, inject fear and are overall highly destructive.
It is time for people to start demanding real answers, unedited scenarios of the possible repercussions of proposed policies and actually demand the process of conflict resolution to be delegated to them. If politicians have real dividends in pushing for fear-driven policies, the societies of parties to the conflict have real lives to be lost if these policies reach the point of implementation.
I was struck by the simplicity and power of this quote by Og Mandino: “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” The first step for succeeding in the NK conflict resolution process would be the conscious decision that the process should be undertaken and should result in a win-win formula. It would be a complete transformation of the whole process of the NK conflict and the discourse around it. It will then proceed with the determination to utterly reject the idea of resumption of war and recognition that compromises on both sides are crucial for success. Purging fear and building trust would be the first milestones in cementing the mutual determination to succeed in the conflict resolution process. Yes, this process may take a very long time, a lot of hard work, compromises on both sides and mutual understanding, and I would choose this environment any day to the current fear-infused perilous situation. I hope many of you will make this choice.