5 Dec 2019
Reflections on Scenarios on the Peaceful Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in Armenia and Azerbaijan
The Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) negotiation process has been going on for more than 27 years now. The negotiations have mainly been conducted on a Track 1 level, behind closed doors. The content of the peace deals proposed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk group was long not disclosed to the public. Due to this particular feature of the NK peace process the public has never been a part of the respective process. To put it more precisely, neither of the societies in the warring countries (including the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of the NK origin) has ever been officially involved in any official dialogue program at any level. The lack of insufficient communication between the sides on the grass-roots level has created a narrow perception of the opposite side which may in the future derail the peace process in case any outcome is achieved by the conflict parties.
This scientific inquiry explores the possible scenarios of peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict anticipating to answer the following research questions:
- How do the Azerbaijani and Armenian societies relate to the NK conflict and the knowledge of it?
- How do the sides of the conflict define the conflict, as well as each other?
- What scenarios exist in Armenia and Azerbaijan about the resolution of the NK conflict, and what is the preference level thereof among the societies?
For this purpose, the study is a combination of participatory group discussions (Fisher and Ball 2004) with junior researchers involved in the studies of the NK conflict. The fieldwork lasted for five months and has gone through a three-stage process following the order presented below:
- First-round group discussions with junior researchers
- Chaotic random inquiries by junior researchers in everyday life settings
- Second-round group discussions with junior researchers
The two-stage group discussions were conducted among junior researchers aiming to generate knowledge about the conflict and its resolution scenarios, using an initially developed group interview guide. Additionally, in the second phase of the above-mentioned cycle, the research participants have conducted random, chaotic, non-standardized qualitative inquiries among their personal and professional social networks (incl. friends, family, random groups, taxi-drivers, etc.), in order to reveal on the grassroots level the opinion of ordinary people on the official peace deals offered since 1997, and come back into the group with another layer of reflected data.
The participants have been chosen by the principle of criterion sampling. The sample has involved junior researchers from Armenia and Azerbaijan, who were at that time conducting or had conducted studies on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the past; this has served as a selection criterion. At the same time, the study has followed the principle of engaging participants from different spheres, including sociology, political science, conflict studies, history studies, peace activism, security studies, etc. A total of 19 junior researchers have been engaged in the study from both countries.
The non-standardized inquiries have been conducted through chaotic sampling, in everyday life conversational settings. The group discussion participants have completed random conversations with the representatives of their individual social network. Around 180 random inquiries have been conducted in both countries all in all.
During the informal talks, junior researchers have tried to find out several aspects of each scenario, including the feasibility (i.e. How realistic is its implementation?), the public acceptance (i.e. Will their society accept the formula?), the political acceptance (i.e. Will their government be satisfied with/accept it?), the acceptance from the other side (i.e. Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Armenian community of the NK, the Azerbaijani community of the NK); and the durability (i.e. Will the proposed peace deal be durable? / How long will it take to implement it?).
The data analysis consists of two main thematic sections, with the first one discussing how societies relate to conflict discourses and the knowledge of conflict, through the reflective analysis of the junior researchers, and the second one reflecting on the public perceptions on the official resolution scenarios for the NK conflict.
Alienation From The Conflict Discourse And The Conflict Knowledge
Given the fact that the main purpose of the research is to generate practical knowledge on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and its resolution, the analysis of the study is structured in combination of the two levels of the fieldwork, uniting the results of the group discussions and the random inquiries. This means that the presented analysis is two-layered, summing up the knowledge generated by the participants of the group discussion, who were all junior researchers and the initial source of data, as well as observing the reactions and reflections on the generated knowledge by the societies discussed in everyday life situations.
The research proves that the situation is very similar in both countries regarding the awareness about the conflict.
Particularly, the knowledge about the conflict is limited in the Armenian society, as noted by the researchers. This results in a limited opportunity for viewing the conflict from multiple angles, since the communication taking place in everyday life situations is often communication for the sake of communication, not supposing a rather abstract development of knowledge. This situation is tested and proven in the random inquires in everyday life level, as well, since very often the young researchers observe the usage of the expression “well, we don’t know much”. Yet, at the same time, the role of any “other” party whatsoever is very often excluded from the process of conflict resolution, and each individual claims to have their own solution of the conflict, without having a wider look at the situation. This proves that the knowledge about the conflict is yet on another level of knowing very much separated from the everyday discourses carried by ordinary individuals.
“The perceptions on the negotiations in Armenia are limited with the level of coffee talks”. (Group Discussion Participant, Armenia; March 2019)
There is a common viewpoint among the junior researchers that the static knowledge on the conflict is generated in the history textbooks, while the dynamic knowledge of it is mostly covered by the media. However, neither the static, nor the dynamic forms of knowledge are complemented by alternative sources of information, as a result of which the discursive reality on conflict does not reach the Armenian society in its full sense, but rather partially and directed. In everyday life settings, there is a perception that the elites are the ones provoking the conflict, hence, they are the ones shaping the knowledge and narrative of the conflict through various channels, including media.
A similar situation can be noticed in Azerbaijan. Researchers claim that regardless of the fact that the media is widely accessible in Azerbaijan, the society there is not well informed about the officially led by the government political process around conflict and the ongoing negotiation process, as well. In general, disseminated information in the local media is considered one-sided, mainly accentuating the aggressiveness of the opposite side towards the Azerbaijanis. If to rely on the information provided by the local media it may seem that it is always the Armenian side who initiates the violation of the cease-fire at the line of contact. According to young researchers in Azerbaijan, people usually do not check the validity of the information presented by local media and prefer to believe in what they read in newspapers or watch on TV. Particularly the older generation does not have any intention to double check the available information.
This is explained both by the frames produced by social structures, including the political propaganda, and by the elements of social action, especially the absence of critical thinking in both societies. This is manifested in a politically significant way; when communicating with the society, the political elite usually states the ‘non-negotiability’ of the territories, yet, not once has any president of Armenia denied the possibility of giving up some territories on an international level, in regional meetings and negotiation platforms. This aspect of the discourse is of course not presented in the history books in Armenia, hence, giving space for ideological biases, as well as political goals to direct and shape specific perceptions of reality in general and the conflict in particular; this is another way the information on the current situation of the conflict does not essentially reach the society.
“Reality is never presented in the history books”. (Group Discussion Participant, Armenia; March 2019)
“Interestingly, we might receive information about Armenia or the NK peace process, recognize and accept that knowledge, however, once we enter the society we change our opinion. Consequently, we do not express our own opinion or belief on a particular issue on the NK conflict instead we mainly talk about what is told in the news on the TV”. (Group Discussion Participant, Azerbaijan; August, 2019)
The ceasefire agreement has been signed for more than 25 years now, however, people are not well informed about the negotiation process. This can also be a result of the undertaken policy by both conflicting states, i.e. the top down format of the negotiations. The Azerbaijani government passes a message to the society that it is actually the government who conducts the negotiations and who is in charge of settling the NK dispute on behalf of the Azerbaijani society. The main disadvantage of the lack of information on the NK conflict and the ongoing peace process is that if the Azerbaijani people knew more details on the proposed peace scenarios they might have demonstrated more support for the peaceful settlement of the conflict rather than supporting the resolution of the conflict by the means of war which for them might seem to be the only adequate way out of this deadlock. The top down format of the conflict settlement approach both in Azerbaijan and Armenia to a certain extent hinders the public support for the available options of the NK conflict’s settlement.
The employed top down format causes specific perceptions of the origin of conflict as well as specific definitions and perceptions of the involved parties. In Armenia, the conflict is viewed as having originated from “the other side”, particularly mentioning the Sumgait pogroms as a starting point, directing to the point that the Armenian society does not feel like the conflict belongs to them, and rather is the result of Azerbaijani policy.
Likewise, Azerbaijanis have an antagonistic perception of Armenians. The older generation’s negative perception of the other side has been formed as a result of their memory of war and trauma caused by the conflict. However, at the same time the older generation seems to be more willing to settle this conflict by peaceful means since they, to a certain extent, have past shared memories with their Armenian neighbors, colleagues, friends who they peacefully coexisted with during the Soviet period. At the same time, the younger generation’s negative perception of Armenians is created and sustained by the policy led by the Azerbaijani government, which makes sure that the hostilities carried out during the war, for instance in Khojaly, are not forgotten, as the event is being framed within the definition of “genocide”. This state policy is mainly realized through the media and the educational system, i.e. through storytelling at schools and texts in the school books, creative writing assignments, as well as national commemorative ceremonies.
Another important matter discussed in Armenia is that the conflict belongs to the armed forces, meaning that regardless of what is going on in the political sphere, the major responsible agent of the conflict dynamics is the army, which results in a tendency of improvement of the army’s image according to several studies. In the everyday life level the trust for the army is expressed in the form of the model “our army will fight even without weapons”. It is substantial that, according to participants, the army breaks the myths of the official narratives of the conflict, becoming a possibly alternative source of information, despite being accessible to a limited number of people. This is becoming even clearer in the frameworks of a study conducted among army recruits, showcasing that they tend to show more military patriotism before going to the army, than after they are back to civil life with rather transformed knowledge structures and experience.
“…when they come back, everything is quite revalued for them, since they already know it is not only Azerbaijanis that initiate shootings, and thus the myths of official discourse are broken”. (Group Discussion Participant, Armenia; March 2019)
In Azerbaijan, the level of awareness of ordinary people on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as well as their vision of this dispute’s settlement can vary by region. Social perceptions of the conflict settlement vary in the southern and northern regions of Azerbaijan. In the southern regions, people (mostly the representatives of the Talysh minority group) are not very informed about the process around the NK conflict; they support the military means of resolution and ready to fight. In the northern regions, however, the existing tendency is the opposite to what is seen in the south, i.e. people (for instance, representatives of the Avar minority groups) believe in the influence of Russia on this conflict’s settlement outcome and prefer to stay outside of the existing problem’s frame; they just receive the information provided by the local media and prefer not to even reflect on it.
“In Baku, for instance, many people follow the news, however their knowledge of the conflict is still superficial, they know certain phrases and/or names of the proposed peace deals, for example the Madrid Principles, but are not really aware of the details of those scenarios”. (Group Discussion Participant, Azerbaijan; August, 2019)
At the same time, societal perceptions of the conflict in Armenia are quite different from the ones in Nagorno-Karabakh. In Armenia, especially in locations far away from the borderline, people imagine the conflict “like movies”, and they tend to frequently refer to such abstract mental categories, as patriotism. One of the junior researchers having had done a study in NK, states that the conflict has become an integral part of planning of everyday routine and life in general, essentially becoming a context, simply put, people are unable to plan the future of their education, career or sometimes even half-jokingly the end of the day, without considering the possible outbreak of violence on the border.
In everyday life settings the perceptions also differ based on the gender: women usually discuss the politics and the prospects for the resolution of the conflict, while men mostly pay attention to the politics of war and military affairs. This, according to junior researchers, apparently reflects the patriarchal model of a society, where males do the rough and strategic work, and females do the thinking and the stabilization.
In this regard, Azerbaijanis perceive Armenians through a de-humanized image of a predator which poses a real threat to their lives and values. The younger generation has been/is raised with this constant inculcation of hatred and mistrust towards Armenians. This negative perception of the opposite side is more likely to hinder the peace process in the future, with the lack of state-supported dialogue projects further deepening the existing gap in social perceptions.
The fact of the societies being cut off of the discursive environment, as well as the terms they use to define the conflict and its sides, cause some issues of identity and self-definitions. This is mostly observed when certain categories, such as “occupied” and not “liberated”, bring up sharp reactions among different groups.
“…during my first business trip, some Azerbaijani people told me we have occupied their territories, my first reaction was confusion from that term, as someone having grown in this society and having studied with its history books in the department of history, which is perhaps the most nationalist departments in my university”. (Group Discussion Participant, Armenia; March 2019)
In the view of the value system of the society and the positioning of those values in the conflict, one of the observations discussed concerns the idea that the territories and social space are different in politics and in everyday life situations. Although among the state actors and power elites in Armenia, the territories have not yet managed to shift into political interests and are rather perceived in the level of values, namely “a place, where the blood of my native has shed”. This means that the society and the political structure are located in different social time and space settings, as while the society cares about the territories, the negotiators are mostly taking place around the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status.
Everyday life perceptions are often contradicting to the ones common among the group discussion participants. Particularly, peace has very shallow and short-term understanding, and is mostly defined by the absence of war. This proves the conflict to have become an essential part of people’s everyday lives and the context of social phenomena, rather than has contextualized within those phenomena.
There is also a specific perception of the notion of “peaceful resolution” to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan, as well; namely, it is perceived by the Azerbaijani society as a “return of the whole Nagorno-Karabakh territory that has been under the Armenian control since the early 1990s to Azerbaijan” and this perception by no means includes any compromise on any part of the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. This, per se, is also a result of the state policy. In case the sides reach an agreement for a peaceful solution of the dispute it will perhaps be a difficult task to convince the societies to re-consider the existing perception and restore the trust towards the opposite side easily.
The alienation from the discourse around the conflict, as well as the episodic nature of knowledge about conflict discussed in the previous section, also influences the societal perceptions and preference on possible resolution scenarios. In case of discussion of all scenarios, a few significant for the Armenian and Azerbaijani societies general conditions for resolution have been identified during the research in both countries.
Participants of the group discussion in Armenia mention that one of the major preconditions is the continuous dialogue between the societies, since deadlocked negotiations will inevitably lead to war, just like it happened in April 2016. Additionally, researchers identified that the sides need to shift from merely clarifying their official dispositions into a problem-solving approach.
“All my research has made me sure that if we leave the conflict to the people, it can easily be solved”. (Group Discussion Participant, Armenia; March 2019)
Even though the conflict sides adhered to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by peaceful means, the researchers in Azerbaijan indicate that the war scenario as a way of dispute resolution was popular among the society. Many people who support the war scenario do not realize the possible consequences of it and this fact is the result of misinformation on the other existing scenarios as well as the misperception of the concept of “peaceful resolution” of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In general, it is noteworthy to mention that the public is quite skeptical about the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in general, i.e. they do not believe in the soonest end of the conflict by any means. This fact is most likely the result of their mistrust towards the government, the Armenian side and the international community.
At the same time, there is also a huge importance of the need of defining peace. The recent discussions on “preparing the societies for peace” (Kucera, 2019a) are considered vague among the researchers in Armenia, and they imagine the process of peace negotiations to include a few elements, such as free access to archives, gathering of human stories, republishing the school textbooks, as well as the creation of truth commissions.
Alongside the peace discourse activated earlier this year, there is still a gap between the two societies caused by the pro-war rhetoric which feeds and supports the military solution of this dispute. Both governments adhere to hostile rhetoric in their public speeches, however, in addition to the already military rhetoric of the government officials, the change in the perception of the conflict issue also worsens the current situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. This is especially exemplified by the recent speech of Pashinyan calling for unification of, as he named, ”Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” with Armenia stating that “Artsakh is Armenia, and that’s it” (Kucera, 2019b). This change in the attitude of the Armenian official leadership towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict demonstrates how the failure to settle the conflict for the last 26 years has notably benefited the Armenian side.
When looking at the everyday life level of this aspect of the issue, there is one common condition for peace mentioned by the huge majority of the junior researchers, namely – the generation change.
Public Perceptions On The Official Scenarios Of The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Resolution Process: Cases Of Azerbaijan And Armenia
Reflections on the ‘Package Plan’ Scenario
In 1997-1998 the Minsk Group came up with several proposals for a stable peaceful settlement of the conflict, i.e. the organization offered three proposals known as ‘package plan’, ‘step by step plan’ (also known as ‘phased plan’) and, finally, a ‘common state’ proposal the contents of which were open to the public. The package plan was based on a comprehensive approach to address the existing stalemate and was developed in two agendas, where it was planned to end the conflict by withdrawing the troops, placing multinational peacekeeping forces, returning forcibly displaced persons, setting measures for provision of the respective populations security within the region, removing blockades and embargoes as well as improving communications throughout the region (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1997). The second agenda considered a determination of the Nagorno-Karabakh status which would be further confirmed by the Minsk Conference (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1997).
Research Findings: The case of Azerbaijan
The study revealed that the respondents’ attitudes towards the ‘package plan’ was positive since according to them this proposal would maintain the preservation of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan which is set as the main stance of the Azerbaijani government in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process. Most of the respondents were quite skeptical about the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at any time soon and the main reason for such belief was indicated to be the length (duration) of the conflict period that both countries were trapped in. It was mentioned that in order to settle the dispute by peaceful means both countries should commit to certain concessions, however, neither side is ready for any compromise at the moment.
The establishment of good neighboring relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis during and upon the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was of a great concern to interviewees. It was noted that the main problem would be a peaceful co-existence with the Armenian community in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. For instance, the Khojaly massacre, a national trauma deeply rooted in the Azerbaijani society’s memory, might become an obstacle for the reconciliation of the conflict parties in the future. Hence, the level of success of the proposed settlement deal would to a great extent depend on the willingness and policy of both governments to prepare their publics for peace. Because, an issue of security of the Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs) who are supposed to return to the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh region along with the seven surrounding regions caused a great concern for all respondents. All respondents expressed their wish to return to their homeland, however, they were very much skeptical about the possibility of sharing the neighborhood within the region with Armenians simply because they believed in unavoidable clash and the existence of a threat to their and their families’ lives under that condition. This concern was mentioned by all respondents as the main obstacle for the FDPs sooner return to the respective region upon the settlement of the dispute.
“The person who has gone through war will not return because of security issues, moreover, most of the FDPs are settled well in big cities, this might be another hassle for the government”. (Random respondent, high school teacher, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
“Only new generations raised with different values can co-exist with Armenians”. (Random respondent, hairdresser, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
Interestingly, there was also a great doubt expressed about the effectiveness and trustworthiness of the possible international peacekeeping troops who would guarantee the peace in the region. According to the respondents, the role of Russia in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was indicated as very important. However, it was noted that Russia mainly plays the role of a spoiler, i.e. the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was not in the interest of Russia. This factor was mentioned by the respondents as one of the main hindrances in the resolution of the conflict. Another obstacle stressed was the feature of the possible concessions that both sides should make in order to settle the conflict. The status of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was mentioned as a taboo topic for both parties, i.e. none of the sides would agree to compromise on the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which in its turn, explains the everlasting deadlock in the negotiation process.
Research Findings: The case of Armenia
The study revealed that none of the respondents found the Package Plan proposal realistic to implement today, mentioning various reasons, to be discussed below. On the list of the reasons mentioned, it is worth highlighting the main deal breaker: the respondents stated that the proposal is one-sided, pointing out the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. As mentioned in the proposal, “Nagorno-Karabakh forms a state-territorial entity within Azerbaijan […]” (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 1997). The overall opinion was that neither Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh nor those living in Armenia would accept that, as the status of Nagorno-Karabakh has always been the core of the conflict.
Among other reasons, it was stated that the proposal is detached from today’s reality, because while it proposes the implementation of return of forcibly displaced persons to their original places of permanent settlement (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1997), the violent past, lack of communication between communities and widely spread hate speech over the past decades have made it impossible for the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh to live together with the Azerbaijani community. According to a respondent, at least two or three generations would be needed to live in another reality for this deal to be workable. The need to prepare societies for peace was mentioned a few times.
The respondents also mentioned mutual lack of trust and lack of sense of security between the sides, which would prevent Armenia from withdrawing its armed forces from Armenian-controlled territories, according to the respondents, was that over the years the Armenian community has become so antagonistic towards the so-called “territories for peace” concept, that this proposal would encounter opposition.
There was overall skepticism towards the rights and privileges given to Nagorno-Karabakh according to the proposal. The respondents claimed that there was no guarantee that Azerbaijan would commit to giving the rights and privileges to Nagorno-Karabakh stated in the proposal. They mentioned that because Azerbaijan is a non-democratic state, like Armenia used to be, the commitments would not be met. Bringing this argument, they also argued the right of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh to elect representatives to the parliament of Azerbaijan and their right for participation in elections for the president of Azerbaijan stated in the proposal (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1997) to be pointless.
A few respondents questioned the possibility of having two Constitutions (one of Nagorno-Karabakh and the other of Azerbaijan) in one state (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1997), stating that according to the principal of supremacy of Constitutional law, the Constitution of Azerbaijan would have supremacy over the Constitution of Nagorno-Karabakh, causing the latter to lose its constitutional power.
When asked whether the current Government of Armenia would accept the proposal, the dominant majority of respondents claimed that following the Velvet Revolution in Armenia in 2018, and the democratic developments in the country ever since, for such an important matter the Armenian government would act according to the will of the public. It was mentioned, that the Armenian government would most likely put the proposal to a referendum, and the majority of the public would be against it.
Regarding the attitude of the Nagorno-Karabakh government about the proposal, most of the respondents did not separate the position and the approaches of Nagorno-Karabakh authorities from the position and approaches of the Armenian government. According to them, neither the government nor the public of Nagorno-Karabakh would accept this proposal. They also mentioned that Nagorno-Karabakh authorities would never express their own position without coordinating it with the position of the Armenian government. They were mostly confident that the Azerbaijani government and the public would be in favor of the proposal, as it is largely in their interests.
All the respondents found that even if the proposal was hypothetically approved by all the parties involved in the conflict, it would not lead to a long-lasting peace.
Reflections on the ‘Step by Step’ scenario
In September 1997, the Minsk Group altered its strategy and replaced the failed package proposal by a new step-by-step (phased) approach. This proposal suggested the withdrawal of Armenian military troops from the six Azerbaijani regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh region (except for Lachin region) and a discussion on the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh after the withdrawal. The Lachin region would remain under the military control of Nagorno-Karabakh, all territories freed by the NK army would be demilitarized and at the first stage, an initial buffer zone, in which all forces along the line of contact would leave to specially delineated positions, would be created. The final buffer zone would be established along the 1988 borders of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast as well as the northern and southern frontiers of the Lachin corridor (Zourabian 2006, 258-259). Additionally, this proposal envisaged the deployment of international peacekeepers to the so-called “zone of separation” formed as a result of freed and demilitarized territories (Conciliation Resources 2005, 79-80). The key purpose of this proposal was to give the disputing sides a chance to agree on smaller issues at first and, then, upon establishing mutual trust, to deal with more substantial issues (Svensson 2009, 10).
Research Findings: The case of Azerbaijan
One of the main concerns noted by respondents within the “step-by step” proposal framework was the security dilemma within the NK peace process. The return of Azerbaijani FDPs’ to their hometowns in the NK regions upon the settlement of the NK conflict might cause denial and aggression by the local Armenian community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and this, in its turn, might resume the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“There is no one who would guarantee the secure return and habitation of those FDPs back in the Nagorno-Karabakh region”. (Random respondent, FDP, Azerbaijan; May 2019)
In case this security dilemma is not settled, the resolution of the NK conflict by peaceful means does not seem as possible. The respondents demonstrated quite maximalist position in regard to the settlement of the NK dispute by stressing that any kind of compromise made by the Azerbaijani side would contradict its political and legal interests. Moreover, any concessions made by either side might cause public condemnation in the respective countries. Even the idea of a possible chance granted to determine the status of the NK region as part of the respective resolution package might not be supported by the majority of population in Azerbaijan. However, it was also noted that the chances that the older generation in both countries would accept this condition is higher than its acceptance by the young generation. The 2016 April fighting also played a role of a certain recharger for the hard-liners in Azerbaijan, who were always against any type of compromise and supported the military way of the conflict’s settlement. Hence, since 2016 the number of people who believe more in a military way of the NK dispute solution seems to increase.
Research Findings: The case of Armenia
Although the majority of the opinions about the so called “step by step” proposal were negative, the respondents were more amenable to this proposal compared to “package plan” scenario. Some of the arguments repeated the arguments of the first proposal, such as the lack of guarantees for security, if the Armenian-controlled territories are returned. It was noted that at the moment Armenian-controlled territories surrounding the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast territory form a security zone, and if those territories are returned, Nagorno-Karabakh would become very vulnerable. A respondent mentioned that no one could guarantee that after the return of territories a war would not break out, especially considering the war rhetoric of current Azerbaijani government, raising the issue of a lack of trust for the government of the opposite side. The proposal was also labeled as one-sided, pointing out that in case the Armenian-controlled territories are returned to Azerbaijan, at least the status of Nagorno-Karabakh must be determined, while the Proposal does not have a solution to that.
Again, it was stressed that, there is still a strong perception of Azerbaijanis being enemies, and that in such hate environment this proposal is impossible to implement. The respondents also found that the return of FDPs was problematic, claiming that after the war it is not realistic for the communities to live together again. According to them, this becomes especially problematic, when there are still soldiers dying on both sides today. It is worth mentioning that a counter argument to this existed as well. The respondents mentioned that if the communities had been able to live together for 70 years in peace, then they could do so again. The few respondents that shared this opinion, believed that it would take time to prepare the communities for that.
Among the reasons of the proposal not to be feasible, as stated by the respondents, was that there has never been a proper dialogue between the parties. The overall perception was that the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan share different value systems, noting that while the government of Armenia wants to solve the dispute by peaceful means, the Azerbaijani government wants to solve the conflict by the use of force. A respondent noted that even if the Azerbaijani public is ready for dialogue, their government will continue the way it does now. The common opinion was that Azerbaijan would be against the proposal too, because when stating its claims, it does not only speak about the Armenian-controlled territories, but also about NKAO.
Reflections on the ‘Common State’ scenario
In November 1998, considering the fact that the two previously offered proposals had failed, the mediators offered a solution based on a “common state” concept (also known as Primakov Plan). The OSCE Minsk Group’s document “On the Principles of a Comprehensive Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armed Conflict” determined the status of Nagorno-Karabakh in the following format: “Nagorno-Karabakh is a state and territorial entity in the form of a Republic, which constitutes a common state with Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders” (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1998). Thus, this plan considered not only the formation of a common state between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh but also the establishment of ties between the governments of Baku and Stepanakert. The administration of Kocharyan presented this proposal as a diplomatic victory of Armenian diplomacy. Even though it involved forming a de jure unity within Azerbaijan, the NKR would not have the right to form its own militia or have ambassadorial representation abroad as was stated in the package plan previously offered. In addition, the proposal did not offer any solution on the determination of the Lachin corridor which was a vital issue for the Armenian side (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1998).
Research Findings: The case of Azerbaijan
The attitude of all respondents towards this model of conflict settlement was very negative since they claimed this peace deal as being very biased towards the Armenian side. It was also highlighted that the Azerbaijani side should not make any concessions to Armenia.
“The only compromise could be the permission granted to Armenians to live in Karabakh which is the territory of Azerbaijan”. (Random respondent, peace activist, Azerbaijan; May 2019)
However, in general, expectations and the will of the interviewees towards the resolution of the NK conflict was very positive. Even though most of the respondents supported a peaceful settlement of the dispute, it was stressed that their belief in such a solution was running short. Most of the participants believed that the war would not bring any benefit to any country involved in this dispute, quite the contrary, it would not be approved by either population in the warring parties or by any other state in the world. Notwithstanding the outcome of the military operations, the image of the country that would resume the war will be drastically damaged. The FDP representatives demonstrated more negative attitude towards Armenia. Even though they were against the resumption of war in the NK region, nevertheless, they supported the idea of revenge and the return of the territories.
Once more the main concern of the respondents was the provision of the security for the FDPs returning to their hometowns upon the settlement of the conflict since most of the respondents rejected the possibility of peaceful co-existence of the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the same region. Most interestingly, the respondents questioned the will of the FDPs to return back to their hometowns in the NK region upon the settlement of the conflict by referring not only to the security issue but also to the hardly possible adaptation of the young generation to the new situation. However, it was also noted that once the agreement was reached among the conflict parties, the FDPs would have to follow the directives coming from the government and resettle back to the NK region.
The respondents also stressed that the young generation demonstrates an indifferent attitude towards the NK problem, most probably, this was happening because the young people had neither seen nor been to Nagorno-Karabakh and, apparently, this fact explains a lack of their will to get engaged in such a crucial issue for the whole country.
Research Findings: The case of Armenia
Similar to the previous two proposals, this proposal was also labeled as one-sided and pro-Azerbaijani solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by all of the respondents. Most of them saw it as the fastest way to increase the influence of Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh. Some found that the scenario bears resemblance to the power structure of the Soviet Union, when all the Soviet republics had equal rights de jure, Russia had a de facto authority over the rest of the republics. It was claimed that there is no guarantee that the situation would not be the same. They claimed that if Nagorno-Karabakh formed a common state with Azerbaijan, the latter would still be bigger and stronger, trying to have more authority over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The respondents also expressed fear that Nagorno-Karabakh would be fully inhabited with Azerbaijanis, this process being accompanied by policies intended to make Armenians leave Nagorno-Karabakh. They would back their point by bringing the example of Nakhijevan/ Nakhchivan, where the Armenian population gradually decreased to around 0%. A respondent proposed two options that would have more chances to be discussed among the Armenian public, such as Nagorno-Karabakh forming a common state with Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan creating a common state together.
Most of the respondents believed that the current Government of Armenia would not accept the proposal, because it would be against the will of the public, and it would make the act of those who have sacrificed their lives for the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh worthless, they claimed. The respondents did not see the possibility of the authorities accepting the proposal, as according to them a huge wave of confrontation would arise and many officials would be labeled as betrayers.
“The wound of 2016 April war is still fresh, and parents of those soldiers who participated in the 2016 war would never accept this proposal”. (Random respondent, baker, Armenia; August 2019)
Similar to the opinions of Azerbaijani respondents, some Armenian respondents expressed lack of trust towards OSCE peacekeeping forces, adding that the Proposal would endanger the security of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
“They [the OSCE peacekeeping forces] would not care about our security the way our soldiers do; they would not endanger their lives to protect Armenians”. (Random respondent, hairdresser, Armenia; August 2019)
Most of the respondents believed that the Government of Azerbaijan would accept the proposal and present it as their victory. Returning the territories would open the gates of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, they stated. While the respondents expressed their lack of trust towards the Government of Azerbaijan, blaming the latter in fueling the conflict for its private interests and being non-democratic, they were more careful with their words when giving opinions about the Azerbaijani community.
“I do not have a problem with Azerbaijani people. They also do not want their children to die, but I do not trust their officials”. (Random respondent, taxi driver, Armenia; August 2019)
Reflections on the “Madrid Principles” scenario
In November, 2007, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe presented the Madrid Principles or the Basic Principles. It was a combination of the two previous proposals, the “Package Plan” and the “Step by Step”, preferred respectively by Armenia and Azerbaijan. It was suggested that the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh could be resolved later, and the main focus should other issues such as return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance; a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh; future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will; the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence; and international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation (OSCE 2009).
Research Findings: The case of Azerbaijan
The study revealed that most of the respondents had never heard about Madrid Principles or did not have sufficient information. During the interview the respondents were informed about the details of the respective scenario. Their attitude towards the Madrid Principles was quite skeptical since they believed the resolution of the NK conflict and the restoration of peace to be a complex process. Furthermore, it was mentioned that the implementation of the Madrid Principles would not provide durability and sustainability of peace. The main reason was mentioned as a common peaceful co-existence with the Armenian community. Only a few respondents noted that it would be possible to live together, however, their main concern was still the issue of safety. In addition, it was mentioned that co-existence could possibly become a reason of the conflict to reemerge. It followed that a mutual co-existence would be feasible if only a selected number of people, the so called “open-minded” ones are chosen to live in the region.
Moreover, the fieldwork revealed that the respondents under the category of youth or young adults think that achieving peace is more significant than defining whom the territories belong. On the contrary, the respondents under the category of adult and senior adult, also known as the so-called “older generation” believe that the preservation of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is more crucial. Similarly, forcibly displaced persons did not agree with committing to any territorial concessions, on the contrary, others were ready to show limited compromise since the human life is more important.
According to the respondents, the solution of the NK conflict by peaceful means are not quite feasible. However, they are in favor of the peaceful settlement of the conflict. Nevertheless, the peaceful solution seems complicated due to hate speech in both communities continuing for a long time. It was noted that if the solution had existed, it would already have been implemented by the respective governments. Additionally, it was noted that the resolution of the conflict should not only happen on the Track 1 level between the respective governments, but also on the Track 2 and Track 3 levels by engaging both communities. Hence, specific conditions have to be created for building trust between the communities.
Research Findings: The case of Armenia
The respondents had more diverse opinions about this proposal. There was a clear generational gap between the attitudes towards the proposal. Younger respondents were more accepting and ready to discuss different aspects of the proposal, while older respondents would find it too problematic to discuss, and did not find it realistic to implement in any way.
Most of the respondents believed that the Government of Armenia would accept the proposal, if the timing and modalities of the plebiscite were clarified. They mentioned that Prime Minister Pashinyan had announced a few times that Armenia is ready for compromises if they are based on mutual principles, while there has not been an official response to those announcements from Azerbaijan.
While younger respondents mentioned that they would agree on the Armenian-controlled territories to be returned to Azerbaijan if the latter accepts the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, older respondents were against any territorial concession. Those who found the proposal realistic to implement, explained the benefits of peace agreement, including that Armenia’s military expenditures would go to education, social healthcare, etc.
Both younger and older respondents mentioned that the Government of Azerbaijan makes use of the conflict by distracting people’s attention from corruption, internal problems like it used to be in Armenia before the Velvet Revolution.
Reflections on the “Land Swap” scenario
During 1999-2001, the new scenario called “Land Swap” or territorial swap was discussed during several meetings of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The scenario suggested an exchange of the territories which would benefit both sides. Azerbaijan would get direct access to Nakhchivan/Nakhijevan through the Meghri district, and consequently to Turkey. In return, Armenia would get direct access to Nagorno-Karabakh through the Lachin corridor.
Research Findings: The case of Azerbaijan
The study showed that most of the respondents had heard about the “Land Swap” scenario, however, they were not familiar with specific details of the scenario. At the same time, most of the respondents highlighted that the scenario was not feasible, since Armenia would not agree to lose its access to Iran through Meghri, and Azerbaijani population would not agree to compromise on Lachin corridor. On the other hand, the respondents mentioned that through the access to Meghri district, Azerbaijan could have obtained a direct access to Nakhchivan/Nakhijevan which would be important in improvement of life standards of people in Nakhchivan/Nakhijevan. However, it was also stressed that it was not worth giving upon the Lachin corridor for the Meghri district since there were always alternative routes to reach Nakhchivan/Nakhijevan (bypassing Armenia).
“… If to open Lachin corridor, they (Armenian side) will have more claims to Karabakh, Lachin is very important for us. There are flights to Nakhchivan and buses through Iran”. (Random respondent, primary school teacher, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
Hence, even though the respondents were skeptical about the feasibility of the scenario, they highlighted the geopolitical benefits of the deal for Azerbaijan by having access to Turkey through Nakhchivan/Nakhijevan, and geopolitical disadvantages for Armenia by losing access to Iran without Meghri region.
“… I do not believe that Armenian people and government would support this scenario because of Iran factor”. (Random respondent, industrial engineer, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
Moreover, the attitudes of the respondents towards public acceptance of the scenario were different. It varies from acceptance to rejection of the scenario by public since there are different groups in the society such as FDPs, conflict affected people, nationalists, liberals, old generation, and new generation.
“… The older generation is more open to compromise than younger generation because they suffered from the war a lot”. (Random respondent, tourist guide, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
The opinions about common coexistence have also undergone some transformations.
“… Some part of Azerbaijani society especially FDPs, had already suffered and would not want to take a risk of living together with Armenians again”. (Random respondent, financer, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
“We can live together because we used to live together before”. (Random respondent, procurement specialist, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
However, most of the respondents mentioned that the public opinion towards this scenario could possibly be manipulated.
Regarding the political acceptance, the respondents also highlighted that it is harder to implement this scenario now than 20 years ago, and a strong political will is needed.
“… It depends who will be in power, only strong and wise political leader can lead this process”. (Random respondent, marketing specialist, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
From another perspective, it was said that the negotiations are not open to the society, so nobody was aware of what was really on the table of discussion.
Finally, the durability of the scenario was questioned by the respondents.
“…The absence of civil society in the negotiations as well as the existing discourse make any scenario proposed indurable”. (Random respondent, civic activist, Azerbaijan; April 2019)
Research Findings: The case of Armenia
All of the respondents found that it is impossible to implement the proposal today, stating that it is against Armenia’s interests. They described Meghri as a piece of Armenia that could never be handed to Azerbaijan, considering how important it is for Armenia, even as an exchange for Lachin corridor. Again, the democratic nature of the Government of Armenia was mentioned to stress that the latter would never accept the proposal and go against the will of the people.
An argument brought up against the proposal that is worth mentioning was that swapping lands and drawing more division lines is against the philosophy of building peace. Instead, the respondents suggested that to achieve long-lasting peace, it is needed to unite the three states, to have a common government, common elections, claiming that in that case there would be no reason to decide who Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to.
“It belongs to those who were born there. Both Armenians and Azerbaijanis were born there, so it belongs to all of them”. (Random respondent, engineer, Armenia; August 2019)
As stated by the respondents, the Government of Azerbaijan would accept the proposal, because it would lose less than Armenia with the proposal. Instead, it would return six territories and Meghri, be able to connect to Nakhchivan/Nakhijevan and have a border with Turkey.
Most of the respondents believed that if hypothetically the proposal was accepted by the sides of the conflict, it would never lead to long-lasting peace. Instead they were of the opinion that it would provoke war again. Among alternative suggestion it was mentioned that establishing peace is possible by establishing democracy in Armenia, Azerbaijan and NK, opening all the borders, and creating a “South Caucasus Union”.
Reflections on the “War” Scenario
Research Findings: The case of Azerbaijan
The respondents mentioned that they were familiar with the ongoing NK negotiation process, however, they did not believe it could possibly bring any results. It was noted that a so called “war” scenario could possibly be the only alternative to the negotiation process.
All respondents expressed their anxiety by acknowledging the negative effects of the war on different levels, i.e. human loss, economic, emotional, social and other costs which were witnessed during the recent decades.
“… A recent death of a soldier who was just 19 years old showed that war is not the solution, innocent people are dying”. (Random respondent, housewife, Azerbaijan; May 2019)
However, it was noted that that they could accept the “war” scenario for the sake of resolving the conflict, in case there was no other option.
“The war is real and we will have to support the war choice in case the negotiations do not solve the conflict”.(Random respondent, student, Azerbaijan; May 2019)
On the contrary, some respondents believed war could not be a solution, and hardly thought sustainable peace would be possible along with the war scenario.
“War or military intervention is not a solution at all, and the war does not fit the reality”. (Random respondent, tractor driver, Azerbaijan; May 2019)
“Even if the conflict was resolved through war, it would not last for a long time”. Random respondent, junior specialist, Azerbaijan
Interestingly, half of the respondents interviewed on the “War scenario” expressed their belief in the possibility of peaceful co-existence with the Armenian community.
“As for living together, I also gave examples about the past relationships with Armenians – how we had a picnic in the same places, how my sister stayed with Armenians during her education”. Random respondent, tailor, Azerbaijan; May 2019)
Nonetheless, it was also noted that the generations who had encountered war should transform in order to forget the memories and be able to live together.
Furthermore, the role and impact of Russia was specifically mentioned:
“…we would return back to our lands if Russia was not an intervener”. (Random respondent, seller, Azerbaijan; May 2019)
It can be concluded that the majority of the respondents felt tired of the NK negotiation process and described it as a long, unsuccessful, and meaningless process and that was the reason why the war could seem as the only existing alternative to them.
Research Findings: The case of Armenia
Almost all of the respondents stated that they were against solving the conflict by war. It was clear that they understood the devastating effects of war. When speaking about human losses, they mentioned that war could not be acceptable, adding that soldiers standing on both sides of the border have nothing against each other, and they are those suffering the most from the conflict.
While some expressed optimism that the conflict would be settled by negotiations, trusting the pacifist rhetoric of Armenia’s current government, others stated that only war would solve the conflict. This opinion mainly came from the fact that the conflict has been continuing for decades.
“Throughout world history, there has never been a war that has been solved by negotiations”. (Random respondent, taxi driver, Armenia; August 2019)
A few respondents stated that they do not see the solution of the conflict in either way, assuming that the ‘no peace, no war’ situation would continue.
Some argued that the Government of Azerbaijan is unwilling to solve the dispute, because, according to them, the existence of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is “convenient” for them.
“Azerbaijani authorities do not want peace, because they need to keep the society in fear, in tension to sustain their power”. (Random respondent, hair-dresser, Armenia; August 2019)
It was stated that while the current Azerbaijani authorities are in power, the conflict will not be solved by peaceful means. According to the respondents, the political change in Azerbaijan could lead to peace.
While drawing a general analysis of the points mentioned above, it can be concluded that there is a definite alienation from the conflict discourses among both society, i.e. ordinary people do not really feel that they are part of the peace process. This aspect, as is presented above, can be explained by the quality and character of the disseminated information on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in both Armenian and Azerbaijani media as well as the absence of alternative media sources which would try to consider the conflict from the perspectives of both conflict sides not only one side.
The absence of any tangible achievements as a result of more than 20 years of peace talks makes both societies feel skeptical about any kind of “success” in the peace process. Moreover, the top-down format of the peace process excludes the possibilities of engagement of societies on the grassroots level into the reconciliation process, hence, creating an even bigger hindrance to the settlement of the dispute by peaceful means any time soon.
The absence of a dialogue on an official level between the two societies (including the two communities of the NK region) as well as the existing misperception of the “other” side, the existing gap in the attitudes and perceptions of the younger and older generation both in Azerbaijan and Armenia indicate that people are not yet ready for peace. As revealed by this study, the existing mistrust, trauma as well as concerns on the security issues can be considered as the main factors that could derail the peace process. This fact, per se, can create a hurdle for the political elites who will have to sell the deal reached during the peace process to their respective societies, in case any peaceful condition is reached at all.
In fact, when looking at the resolution scenarios that have been on the table so far, it is becoming obvious that in many of the cases the scenarios are considered one-sided by the respondents. Moreover, in some cases, the security dilemma and guarantee for trust are the factors that majorly decide the level of acceptance of this or that scenario. The table below reflects the most commonly noted opinions about scenarios among the respondents.
|“Step by Step”|
It is evident that the respondents from both sides have a common notion on “Common State” and ”Step by Step” scenarios, both considered unacceptable on different levels. Respondents show more tolerance toward the “Madrid Principles” with uncertain level of acceptability, as both cases divide into people accepting the scenario and people not accepting it. However, when it comes to the rest of the scenarios, the public reactions differ extensively. While “Land Swap” plan being uncertain, and “Package Plan” and “War” scenarios are at least somewhat acceptable in Azerbaijani case, all three of them are unacceptable in Armenian case.
The study also reveals that any scenario that consists of a component of giving up lands is usually receiving a denial by the public whereas among the researchers this option is considered, to a greater or lesser extent, as another perspective, since they attempt to look at the scenario from both conflict sides. An incorrect understanding of a notion of “compromise” or sometimes its absence at all on both cases, is a clear evidence of the stalemate in the NK peace process reached not only at the political but also on the public level.
The study showcases that both in Armenia and in Azerbaijan, the societies are somehow cut off of the discursive reality formed around the conflict. This is especially manifested in several aspects, including accessibility and quality of conflict knowledge, belonging of the conflict, as well as identity and definitions of self and the “other side”.
Although the media is widely accessible in both countries, the societies are most of the time left out of the information flow on the conflict and the ongoing negotiation process. In general, disseminated information in the local media is considered one-sided in both countries, mainly accentuating the aggressiveness of the opposite side, especially when it comes to accusing the “other side” in initiating violations of the cease-fire at the line of contact, thus telling “stories about the past, which justify the violence in the present and in the future, since they show the history of the violence that took place in the past, where the teller is never the one who was violent, but always the others” (Cobb 2004, 294-295). The level of awareness has been noted to vary depending on the regions on physical location, with the southern regions of Azerbaijan having much more militaristic attitude towards the conflict, and with the regions of Armenia relatively far away from the conflict zone having much more abstract and exaggerated vision of the conflict.
All this can be the result of (1) how the conflict is being framed through social structures, including the political propaganda, (2) the fact that critical thinking is not very much encouraged on both sides, as well as because (3) the negotiations are happening only on the official level not engaging wider layers of society. In fact, the January agreement (Kucera 2019a) around preparing societies for peace still remains dodged, with no significant and visible steps from neither of the governments towards taking a share of the already existent non-formal peacebuilding initiatives carried out by the civil society organizations.
When it comes to possible scenarios of the resolution of the conflict, the societies are quite not on the same page. While some of the peace proposals pushed forward by the OSCE are found at least relatively acceptable on one side, they are either not considered realistic and feasible or are not welcomed at all by the other side, mostly exemplified by the lack of trust in the frames of security dilemma, as well as labeled as one-sided in favor of this or that side. This makes it obvious that none of the existing scenarios have the full support of any of the studied societies, at least among the junior researchers and the random respondents engaged in the inquiry. Moreover, the significant lack of dialogue between the populations potentially hinders the peace process in case the sides reach a positive agreement on the resolution of the conflict.
Cobb, Sara. 2004. “Fostering Coexistence in Identity-Based Conflicts: Towards a Narrative Approach.” Imagine Coexistence, 294-310.
Conciliation Resources. 2005. A Selection of Texts and Agreements from the Nagorny Karabakh Conflict and Peace Process. Accord Issue 17. (Accessed May 3, 2019). http://www.c-r.org/downloads/Accord17_22Keytextsandagreements_2005_ENG.pdf.
Fisher, Philip A, and Thomas J Ball. 2004. “Tribal Participatory Research: Mechanisms of a Collaborative Model.” American Journal of Community Psychology.
International Crisis Group. 2005. “Nagorno Karabakh: A Plan for Peace.” Europe Report, Tbilisi. (Accessed September 25, 2019). https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/caucasus/armenia/armenia-elections-boost-hopes-peace-azerbaijan.
Kucera, Joshua. 2019a. Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to “prepare populations for peace”. 17 January. (Accessed September 25, 2019). https://eurasianet.org/armenia-and-azerbaijan-agree-to-prepare-populations-for-peace.
Kucera, Joshua. 2019b. Pashinyan calls for unification between Armenia and Karabakh. 6 August. (Accessed September 24, 2019). https://eurasianet.org/pashinyan-calls-for-unification-between-armenia-and-karabakh.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 1997. “Minsk Group draft on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Agreement II, point 2.” July.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 1998. Minsk Group draft On the Principles of a Comprehensive Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armed Conflict. 7 November. Accessed May 7, 2019. http://www.ca-c.org/dataeng/books/book-1/12.appendix-19.shtml.
OSCE. 2009. Statement by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries. L’Aquila, Italy, 10 July. Accessed September 23, 2019. https://www.osce.org/mg/51152.
Svensson, Isaac. 2009. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Lessons from the mediation efforts. Crisis Management Initiative. Accessed May 2, 2019. http://www.initiativeforpeacebuilding.eu/pdf/Nagorno_Karabakh_conflict_mediation_efforts.pdf.
Zourabian, Levon. 2006. “The Nagorno-Karabakh settlement revisited: is peace achievable?” Demokratizatsiya 14 (2): 252-265.
 All draft agreements presented by the co-chairs as a foundation for further negotiations between Armenian and Azerbaijan in 1997-1999 were kept confidential until the presidential administration of Azerbaijan published copies of draft proposals in 2001 (International Crisis Group 2005, 11-12). The full content of the Madrid Principles has not been made public yet.
 Junior researchers were specifically targeted, in order to gather more flexible reflections on the topic, rather than expert opinions.
 In the first part of the analysis the references to the “society” as a whole are not the generalizations by the authors, and rather reflect the thoughts of the junior researchers engaged in the group discussions.
 The governments of Armenia have always been stressing that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has never been a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, rather defining it as an “INTER-state” war between Azerbaijan and the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Whereas, the abovementioned recent developments demonstrate Armenia’s involvement into the actual conflict process.
*The featured photo of this article is taken from pixabay.com