Foreign Policy Journal publishes a commentary on the 20th anniversary of ceasefire in Karabakh

On May 29, 2014, the Foreign Policy Journal published an article by Aram Avetisyan entitled “Twenty Years of Karabakh Armistice: No Peace, No Trust.” The commentary discusses the Karabakh peace process and the obstacles that have made a comprehensive peace agreement so illusive.

The full text of the article is provided below:

Twenty years have passed since a cease fire agreement was signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno Karabakh. While the truce put an end the large-scale hostilities, there is no final peace agreement, and the sides continue to suffer casualties. The question why the cease fire has not lead to the comprehensive peace agreement remains rhetorical; the lack of confidence between the parties and aggressive behavior of Azerbaijan are major obstacles. Moreover, the current phase of the peace process remains incomplete with no comprehensive participation of Nagorno Karabakh authorities.

Why does Azerbaijan avoid negotiations with Nagorno Karabakh? Why does Baku deny previous contacts with NKR authorities? The answer lies in Baku’s policy and goals towards everything Armenian. Throughout last 20 years of relative peace, the world and the region have witnessed Azerbaijan’s aggressive warmongering, instigation of hatred towards Armenians, military build-up, and disregard of calls from the international community to initiate confidence-building measures.

The goals are evident and not new. Just like during the war from 1991-1994, Azerbaijan uses cease-fire “breaks” to regroup and rebuild its military capacities. As soon as it feels ready for another attempt, the Azeri leadership begins blackmailing with renewed aggression and demands from the Armenian sides to accept the unacceptable. Sniper war and cross-border subversions are parts of these tactics.

Another aspect is Baku’s efforts to distort the essence of the Karabakh problem and misrepresent the issue as “Armenia’s territorial claim towards Azerbaijan”. Azerbaijan manipulates with the UN Security Council’s resolutions regarding the Karabakh conflict and complains about “occupation of its territories by Armenia”. In reality, none of those resolutions, which remained unimplemented at Baku’s fault, has ever mentioned Armenia as aggressor state, since Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh are the two principal parties to the conflict.

Two rhetorical questions: if the problem was between Armenia and Azerbaijan, why then would president Aliyev (the father of incumbent Azeri leader) delegate his envoys to negotiate with official representatives of the NKR; why was the 1994 ceasefire document entered into force after being signed by three parties, including Nagorno Karabakh?

Restoration of the previous, OSCE-supported framework with participation of the NKR will promote negotiations and facilitate final settlement. Implementation of confidence-building measures (CBM) by all sides, especially between NKR and Azerbaijan, will help reduce the tension and create a favorable atmosphere for the two societies to overcome the existing problems. Unfortunately, all previous attempts to restore trust between the peoples failed after Azerbaijan blocked any CBM initiatives she had received through the OSCE mediators.

The peaceful formula is simple: less casualties, less warmongering, more trust, more chances to achieve regional peace. Through the last 20 years, Armenia and NKR have tried to persuade Azerbaijan that a peaceful solution had no alternative, that snipers along the border further aggravated the situation and postponed settlement. Today, the Armenian states send the same message to “hawks” in Baku, calling them to abandon revanchist aspirations and prevent another tragedy. International community and mediators should make it clear that Azerbaijani leaders must assume responsibility, and prepare its people for peace, rather than war.

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