Ariel Cohen: Armenia must withdraw from occupied Azerbaijani territories


May 12, 2016

“Recognition of the “independence” of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia will not be a step towards peace and a move in a wrong direction.”

It is time for a change to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and Armenia must withdraw from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan within the peace process and settlement, required by the UN resolutions, the director of Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security, well-known political analyst Ariel Cohen told APA on Thursday.

He said peace should be established in the South Caucasus, noting that the recognition of the “independence” of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia will not be a step towards peace and a move in a wrong direction.

According to him, the Minsk process has not brought any results yet and the co-chairmen failed to the conflict parties to a settlement.

“Unsurprisingly, the tensions exploded, raising the danger of war to the new level. Russia is a traditional supporter of Armenia for over a century and a third. The hereditary hostility towards Turkey has returned and is driving Russia into military posture in South Caucasus. Long term we will expect more tension with, and pressure on Azerbaijan and Turkey,” the political analyst said.

He said that Armenia has suffered a lot in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“It lost over 1 million people to emigration and underdevelopment. It lost important economic and investment opportunities. It undermined its democracy. Its elite are not business oriented,” he added.

Speaking to APA, Thomas de Waal, senior associate for the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone is extremely volatile, it is hard to expect a return to a full ceasefire, when lives have been lost, emotions raised, there is no international presence and there is so much heavy weaponry on both sides.

That means unfortunately that young men from both sides will continue to die unless a political process is re-launched, he said.

Thomas de Waal noted that for the past few months there has been a new draft “phased” agreement, drafted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but agreed with the other two co-chair countries, France and the United States.

“However, I think it is important to say that Russia cannot unilaterally force a peace deal on the parties to the conflict, they have many ways to block and it cannot go through without the agreement of Paris and Washington. Almost all ideas have been presented to resolve the conflict, and we can’t expect anything new to fall out of the sky,” he added.

The associate stressed that recognition of the “independence” of Nagorno-Karabakh by Yerevan would be a very dangerous step because it would effectively kill the Minsk process. “So I believe this is more of a threat to exert pressure than a reality,” he concluded.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered its modern phase when the Armenian SRR made territorial claims against the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988.

A fierce war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. As a result of the war, Armenian armed forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includes Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.

The military operations finally came to an end when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Bishkek in 1994.

Dealing with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group, which was created after the meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.

Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, US and French co-chairs, which began operating in 1996.

Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, which were passed in short intervals in 1993, and other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, PACE, OSCE, OIC, and other organizations require Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.