The Nagorno-Karabakh puzzle

The impotence of international mediation and the ineptitude to find solutions are striking. In almost three decades of existence, the Minsk Group has been unable to devise a consistent peace strategy.

This post is also available in: Portuguese

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh raises three unresolved issues: the tension between sovereignty and self-determination; the ineffectiveness of international organizations in mediating conflicts; and, more recently, Turkish expansionism.

The rekindling of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan that started on 27 September may have been the most lethal since the 1992-1994 war. This confrontation presents a new feature that distinguishes it from previous ones: Turkey's military involvement.

Turkey's moral encouragement and material support were decisive for Azerbaijan to choose the military route. Ankara participates in the combat with military units and has sent hundreds of jihadists to Azerbaijan, similarly to what it had already done in Libya. It should be stressed that Turkey's involvement in the region is not new.

We are faced with two distinct strategies to solve the problem. On the one hand, Turkey and Azerbaijan to defend the military solution and to refuse a ceasefire. Azerbaijani President Aliyev and Turkish President Erdogan pledged to continue fighting until Nagorno-Karabakh came under Azerbaijan control. On the other hand, Armenia, Russia, France and the USA claim that there is no military solution.

The prevalence of the first strategy can lead to a dangerous escalation of the conflict. The Armenian capacity for retaliation is considerable. In a situation of despair, it can attack the oil and gas facilities located in Azerbaijan. This would lead to an Azeri counter-retaliation by directly attacking Armenian territory, provoking the intervention of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and forcing Russia to fight on the Armenian side, with all the harmful consequences that this can entail.

The impotence of international mediation and the ineptitude to find solutions are striking. In almost three decades of existence, the Minsk Group has been unable to devise a consistent peace strategy. Even with the frozen military situation, the OSCE negotiations have made no substantial progress. Since 2007, a relevant proposal has not been discussed.

Although both Armenia and Azerbaijan belong to the NATO Partnership for Peace and the EU's Partnership for the East, neither of these two organizations has taken significant steps to mitigate the problem. The irrelevance of the calls to respect the ceasefires mediated first by Russia and then by France, in coordination with Russia and the USA, deserves reflection. The influence of those powers on Turkey and Azerbaijan is practically nil.

Turkish military intervention in the South Caucasus, as in Syria and Libya, raises the spectrum of panturquismo, an expansionist project aimed at the cultural and political unification of the so-called Turkish peoples (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan). The time for the “Zero problems with neighbors” policy, which in the past has guided Turkish foreign policy, is long gone.

In addition to what has already been said, Turkey remains unstoppable, increasing its illegal and provocative activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, in clear violation of international law, and behaving as a disruptor to international peace, without fear of anyone. What else will have to happen to put the candidate for sultan in order before it is too late?

This post is also available in: Portuguese

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