Yerevan must acknowledge “Karabakh” card played by previous Armenian gov’t led them to nowhere – research fellow

Tue 15 Jan 2019 06:38 GMT | 10:38 Local Time

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Several indications signal a thaw in relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and hopes for peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, reads an article, Ilgar Gurbanov, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies of Azerbaijan, said in his article, “Ice is melting for Nagorno-Karabakh”, published by EURACTIV, an independent pan-European media network.

According to the author, following the government change in Armenia with the overthrow of previous regime composed of so-called “Karabakh Clan”, there are fresh hopes for a result-oriented dialogue to achieve peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is one of the longest protracted conflicts in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood.

The article reads: “In last December, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev tweeted that “The year 2019 will give a new impetus to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process”, and “the only way for the new Armenian leadership to carry out all their plans on transforming the country is to resolve the conflict with Azerbaijan”. The statement made by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov anticipates “certain progress” to be made in 2019 “for withdrawal” of Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories and “the normalization of relations”. He expressed Azerbaijan’s readiness to assure security of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians by granting them the highest self-determination right within Azerbaijan’s “internationally-recognized borders”.

The author referred to the recent statement of Tural Ganjaliyev, Chairman of Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh region, Chairman of Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh region, “to carry out a constructive dialogue” for peaceful reconciliation with the Armenian community, is another sign of will for resumption of inter-community confidence-building.

“The previous Armenian government under Serzh Sargsyan’s rule, in contrast, did not encourage establishing such a dialogue,” reads the article.  

“Furthermore, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution put forward by Azerbaijan titled “Missing Persons” urging to take necessary measures to search for missing persons in the armed conflict. Armenia, whereas, hitherto has rejected the releasing of prisoners of war and hostages according to the “all-to-all” principle, so this development could be a first positive stage in terms of generating a bilateral trust.”

The author also touched upon the communication held between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at the meeting of the CIS heads of state in Dushanbe in September 2018, as well as the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers that took place on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Milan.

“The general positive trend was endorsed, albeit in declaration, by the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chairing states too. Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mikhail Bocharnikov stated that a more favourable atmosphere for the conflict settlement will be created in 2019. During his visit to Armenia, the US’s national security adviser John Bolton highlighted the importance of finding an agreement for the conflict conditioning that “once that happens, then the Armenian-Azerbaijani border would open”. Former US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills at the end of his tenure said that “any settlement is going to require the return of some portion of the [Azerbaijan’s] occupied territories.” That sends a clear message to new Armenia government that the latter will not be able to delay indefinitely the de-occupation of Azerbaijani territories,” the article says.

The article also refers to the April 2016 battles. “In April 2016, Armenia’s military provocation resulted in four-day fights, leaving a significant victory for the Azerbaijani side, with the latter’s counter-attack liberating from Armenian military control some strategic portions of its occupied territories.”

Author Gurbanov stressed that Azerbaijan patiently waited for the completion of domestic political turbulence in Armenia in order to negotiate with a legitimate government and achieve concrete results.

“Before the parliamentary elections in Armenia, Pashinyan prioritized consolidating his power by crushing domestic opponents, and did not focus much on Karabakh topic which is a delicate issue within Armenia since any settlement would imply certain compromises from their side. To what extent the Pashinyan-led government would change Armenia’s traditional stance radically toward compromise is an open question. To start with, the new leadership in Yerevan must acknowledge that the “Karabakh” card played by the previous Armenian government led them to nowhere,” the article says.




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