Deauville, Helsinki, Astana, Athens, Vilnius – nothing new

Considering that stability in the Greater Middle East is still an issue of remote future, the conflicts in the South Caucasus will also maintain their current status quo, whether you like it or not.

The OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Vilnius ended with the adoption of just another joint statement on Karabakh. However, it was to be expected, like the OSCE Minsk Group statements after each visit to the conflict zone. It’s worth noting that there was nothing new in the statement; simply to the expression “the parties agreed on the need to continue the negotiation process in the format of OSCE Minsk Group and to improve the atmosphere for progressing towards a peaceful settlement”, along with Deauville, Helsinki, Astana, Athens and Sochi, there also came Vilnius.

PanARMENIAN.Net - It is natural that for meetings at such a level adoption of this kind of statements should be just as necessary for the conflicting parties as for the co-chairs, who simply have to somehow assert that the negotiation process remains under their care. But is it so, indeed? In reality, despite numerous statements and appeals to Azerbaijan on non-militaristic rhetoric and withdrawal of snipers from the contact line of the NKR Defense Army and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, Baku listens to no one and does what she pleases. Ilham Aliyev quite reasonably believes that the co-chairs, and also the rest of the world, have neither time nor interest for Karabakh, and taking advantage of the situation, he is trying to provoke NKR into giving a serious response that could grow into a war.

Besides reaffirming the importance of reaching a peaceful settlement on the Karabakh-Azerbaijani conflict, the statement also offered to move beyond the “unacceptable status quo”, which in the opinion of the OSCE has dragged on for too long and is a major obstacle to resolving the conflict. There was also made a mention of the UN Charter and the Principles of the Helsinki Final Act, which were stillborn still back in 1975, thus making their constant indication quite surprising, for they have solved not a single conflict in the world so far. The principle of territorial integrity and that of the right of nations to self-determination can never be combined, no one has ever succeeded! Nevertheless, these two principles are constantly reiterated and have become an indispensable element of all the statements on Karabakh. The position of the authors of statement, and the OSCE in particular, is understandable: to quarrel with Baku is unreasonable at present, when the supply of hydrocarbons from the Gulf, as well as from Russia and Iran is under threat. Europe simply has nowhere to go and is forced to make a curtsey to Aliyev. By the way, had Armenia oil and gas, she would be treated in a similar manner.

The statement also said that the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan informed the Heads of Delegation that their Presidents are ready to meet again jointly in the near future under the auspices of the Co-Chair countries to continue their direct dialogue, building upon recent experience on how to ensure their peoples’ peace, stability, and prosperity. In recent years stability and prosperity have been mentioned too often, which could mean that the co-chair countries hurry to somehow settle the problem before the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan, since with a new president they will have to begin the process from scratch. But given the fact that Sargsyan and Aliyev have a high percentage of probability to preserve their positions, next year we will witness war rhetoric and provocations, aimed for both domestic use and the outside world. Settlement of the Karabakh conflict also depends much on how the Iranian problem and the “Arab Spring” will be resolved. Only then the South Caucasus and the conflicts on its territory will attract greater attention from the outside world. This applies not only to Karabakh but also to Georgian-Abkhaz and South Ossetian conflicts. Only when the region has obtained some stability, it’ll be possible to speak of a solution. But considering that stability in the Greater Middle East is still an issue of remote future, the conflicts in the South Caucasus will also maintain their current status quo, whether you like it or not.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan
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