Will there be peace in Nagorno Karabakh at last? – The Weekly 29
After Azerbaijan’s military victory and the Russian-brokered truce signed this week, it seems that peace might finally arrive in Nagorno Karabakh after thirty years. By the end of the trilateral negotiations, Armenia agreed to give Azerbaijan back all the formerly Azeri-populated districts that had been occupied by Armenia thirty years ago whereas Azerbaijan agreed not to use military force in order to regain control over the whole of Nagorno Karabakh which officially lies in Azeri territory but has an Armenian population. The parties will open and maintain a corridor between Karabakh and the Armenian motherland as well as between Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave landlocked by Armenian territories. All of this will be monitored and guaranteed by Russian peacekeeping forces.
As a Member of the Hungarian Parliament back in 2011 during Hungary’s EU presidency, I already submitted a motion urging the EU to focus more on the settlement of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict since it was ready to explode at any point, threatening the lives of tens of thousands again.
It’s a shame that the international community, apart from issuing some resolutions, failed to do anything and sat idly by until war really broke out. For thirty years, Armenia and Karabakh’s Armenian separatists showed absolutely no willingness for a settlement and no one even tried to make them, either. In the meantime, Azerbaijan has grown stronger both economically and militarily, and now has used violence to enforce its rights. Fortunately, the bloodshed was stopped and a truce agreement was reached before it would have claimed even more casualties.
However, since we said that the winner of the first Karabakh war, i.e. Armenia must be held accountable to the regulations of international law, I believe it is important to state after Azerbaijan’s enormous triumph that victory always comes with a responsibility. Azerbaijan has regained most of its occupied territories and signed an agreement which also includes allowing Karabakh’s Armenian refugees, who fled during the latest fights, to return to their homes, similarly to the Azeri people who were driven away thirty years ago.
According to international law, Nagorno Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan but culturally it belongs to the Armenian nation just as much as to the Azeri.
The peaceful settlement of the conflict requires Azerbaijan to respect the language, religious and national minority rights of the Armenian people living in its territory. As a law-abiding citizen, I believe that Azerbaijan has the right to exercise its sovereignty over its own territory. On the other hand, as a European and Christian, I am also convinced that Karabakh’s Armenian people are entitled to stay in their homeland and freely cherish their culture.
While the truce agreement signed this week means a victory for Azerbaijan, it also means a chance for Armenia to normalize its international situation.
Furthermore, it is a huge strategic and political success for Moscow since Russia can once again appear as the arbitrator and controlling force in the region, thus strengthening its influence there.
This is also a failure for western diplomacy: we must admit that Europe was unable to provide any assistance or offer any prospects for the parties involved in the conflict. Once again, we are left out of settling a conflict that arose right at our borders.
The reasons for this failure are twofold: many people totally misunderstood the nature of the Azeri-Armenian conflict and wanted to see the confrontation of two neighbouring nations as some clash of civilizations or a religious war while others wanted to understand the highly complex affairs of Caucasian nations based on their relations with Turkey and Russia. All these mistaken analyses of the situation, combined with the disputes caused by a lack of knowledge and cynical ignorance, have led to Europe being squeezed even further out of the Caucasian region instead of demonstrating its own abilities and influence. It truly is a shame.