In September 1991 Russia got down to mediation in the most complicated armed Nagorny Karabakh conflict, the first one in the USSR. By May 12, 1994 it assisted Azerbaijan (AR), Armenia (RA) and Nagorny Karabakh (NK) to stop mass bloodshed. Severe almost three-year war ended with armistice. In half a month it is already 20th anniversary.
Since March 1992 also the OSCE Minsk Group (MG) has been a mediator (the Ambassadors of 11 states).Independently and in MG Moscow strived for armistice first of all. The peace achieved by Russia forced the group’s members to recognize its special part in this conflict resolution and to appoint it as the OSCE MG Cochairman (since 1997 these are Russia, the USA and France).
Severe mutual distrust and maximalism of the parties to the conflict do not allow resolving disputable matters peacefully until now. Regular escalations of the situation are of significant danger for the both peoples, neighbor states and a pretty sensitive region. The most important task of the parties to the conflict, mediators and he international community remains maintenance of armistice to promote peace by means of political regulation.
It is the first point but the dominating one – the rest lies on it. The armistice is termless, but it is not enough. The decades of talks proved, that till the risk of war is eliminated, the success cannot be guaranteed and it is even doubtful. With their line the parties deprive themselves of flexibility, readiness to search for a compromise.
At the peak of distrust within the conflict regulation the sequence and order of priorities of the steps are of significant importance. The official Baku, calling for humanness, strives primarily for total withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territories and return of refugees with secondary task of real peacemaking and solution of the main matter of dispute – the NK status. It even threats with a new war. Why did the people forget about humanness, those who despite 4 resolutions of the UN Security Council had no wish to stop combat activities? And the threats with a new war are hardly humane.
Armenians, having pushed away the front line from NK, having taken and strengthened the shortest (which is important for them) positions, are not rushing to leave, striving for a complex solution of the conflict: to enhance the armistice as the way to peace and naturally, to define the NK status. And how was the issue of priorities in the UNO SCА solved? They demanded immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of the occupying forces, but evidently the later is not possible before the accomplishment of the first demand.
However, the ground of the armistice was not these resolutions, disrupted by those trying to resolve the conflict with force, but the most significant document of intermediation of Russia – the Statement of the Council of the Heads of the CIS states of April 15, 1994. The Heads of the states with personal engagement of Geydar Aliyev and Levon Ter-Petrosyan gave there only two but the key targets: 1) not only cease fire but to maintain stably the armistice; 2) specified the order of priorities for the further actions. It was specially underlined that without stable maintenance of ceasefire “one cannot get down to elimination of the consequences of tragic confrontation” (withdrawal of troops, return of refugees).
Naturally, it is not a legal document. But the most important political one. Adopted at the summit level. To enhance this Statement on May 4-5,, 1994 the heads of the Parliaments of all the parties to the conflict gathered in Bishkek. They supported it and called to ceasefire by May 9. Delays and tricks of one of the parties forced them to register armistice in quite peculiar manner, but by May 12, 1994 the agreement gained complete legal power.
But it has not been enhanced appropriately! Generally known are military arrangements and militaristic rhetoric of Baku, its refusal to conclude an agreement on non-use of force, non-mounting of troops, plenty of incidents along the line of contact and other manifestation of crude policy of force. The call of the current AR Government: “The war is not over, it is its first stage”. It hides that Geydar Aliyev stood for “exclusively peaceful” conflict resolution. Sometimes Armenians also act acutely, but not that often and as a rule in response to the steps of Baku. The attempts of the President Ilham Aliyev to change completely the way of the conflict resolution (to get back the lands, lost during fights, without registering armistice before) are not connected with more realistic approach of his father expressed on April 15, 1994.
At first glance – the parties seem to be “even”: Armenians are being not welcomed for retaining of the lands occupied, the Azerbaijani – for demonstrative bellicosity and threats. But still there is difference. The problems of occupation and refugees occurred the day before yesterday and yesterday, they are the fact already. It is a bit muted “up today” and demands peaceful resolution “tomorrow”. And the promises to resume the fight are the “tomorrow” which burdens our today with worries and concerns. That is why psychologically it is quite natural that the more dangerous thing is being criticized, i.e. Baku’s policy. And except for that there are three other reasons.
First of all, a new war around Karabakh is absolutely wrong and dangerous for the both peoples – Armenian and Azerbaijani, for their neighbors and of course for Russia. And personally I would add that the one, who fought for ceasefire, is obliged and shall impede the thoughtless advocates of wars.
Secondly, extremely important is performance of officially signed treaties and other agreements between the parties. For states especially young it is the indicator maturity and reliability as partners. The list of non-performances and omissions from peacekeeping initiatives is definitely not in favor of AR: failure of four UNO SC resolutions, four ceasefires, more than 20 offers from mediators (Armenians together are only four), refusal of troops mounting, ignoring of the agreement on enhancement of the ceasefire regime. It is not enough? Does this improve trust towards Baku?
There is also the third point. And if the first one is of policy, the second – of the law, than the third one is of moral: insufficiency and even hollowness of propaganda. Baku names occupation to be the problem No. 1. But we have to get deeper into its core of occurrence, without blaming it on aggression of Armenians. Why no one talked about evident miscalculations of Abulphaz Elchibey and Geydar Aliyev within their stake at force, which resulted into the spread of occupation within seven areas. Propaganda of the Armenians is also of fault, but their government is more thorough, it is afraid of doubtful conclusions. And in Baku one may hear all possible gems from the very top level: and as if 20% of lands is occupied, and as if there are more than a million of refugees, etc. I also remember ethics: the Head of AR Ministry of Foreign Affairs archly asked to pass his draft of the document to the Armenians as mine own …
Thus, under all these indicators the official Baku is out of “competition”. Why should we then be surprised that he is being criticized mainly (but not Azerbaijani people, as they would like to demonstrate there).
I am convinced that long-standing talk on Karabakh shall promote only after complete elimination of war actions. Peace for NK seriously guaranteed by Azerbaijan, as well as by the great powers, would have changed the positions of the Armenians – they would have to leave the occupied lands gradually but rapidly. And yet Baku, as if striving for sooner regulation, acts per contra – contrary to the claimed interests, prolonging the status-quo.
Another its obstacle within the talks is unwillingness to recognize NK as the party to the conflict and, consequently, a party to the talks. By this during the years of the war Baku for more than 10 times went to Stepanakert, signed various documents with it (without the participation of Yerevan). Except for that NK together with AR and RA signed three general documents: armistice, statement of June 27, 1994, agreement of February 4, 1994. Without NK’s engagement the talk shall never end, as its status is the main disputable matter of the conflict.
It is impossible to postpone its resolution forever. This matter can be set and solved only on peaceful and true democratic basis, as in Crimea. Past 20 years would have been enough for that provided the approaches of all the parties to the conflict’s problems resolution were wise.
Kazimirov Vladimir Nikolayevich – an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Russia. Between 1992 and 1996 headed the mediation mission, Plenipotentiary Envoy of the President of Russia on Karabakh, the member and Cochairman of the OSCE Minsk Group. Resigned in 2000. A Chairman of the Council of Veterans of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Deputy Chairman of the Association of Russian Diplomats.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from ng.ru