The active phase of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Who will mediate?
Who will mediate?
The incident in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers involving the death of policemen from the unrecognized NKR and Azerbaijani soldiers has aggravated the already tense situation. The United States and Russia announced their readiness to act as mediators for a resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. But how will it be decided?
- Shootout in Karabakh; casualties reported
- Two video stories about the life of people in NK after the blockade of the Lachin corridor
- “Baku is trying to change the status quo”: opinion from Yerevan
“The United States can take on the role of arbiter in the region, Russia cannot”
Political scientist Gurgen Simonyan says that at present the military-political interests of the United States, the collective West and Armenia coincide, and these relations should be deepened, becoming part of the developed and civilized world.
“We need to get rid of this post-Soviet swamp as soon as possible, the forces that continue to drag us into it,” he told JAMnews.
Commenting on a statement by State Department spokesman Ned Price [reproduced below] that the United States is not a mediator, but a partner of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Simonyan maintained that this is not a retreat at all. In his view, despite the fact that Armenia is “hostage to the Russian military bloc CSTO”, the US policy towards it is “friendly and allied”:
“The United States is doing more than, formally, Armenia means to the United States. We do not have any document or allied agreement. No political format of relations has been developed.”
At the same time, the political scientist believes that the status of an intermediary is much lower than that of a partner. Emphasizes that mediation implies absolute neutrality, while partnership implies synchronization of political interests.
According to Simonyan, the United States can take on the “arbiter role” in the region, but Russia cannot, since “the Russian Federation has created military-political problems for itself and has not yet got out of this swamp.”
The statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense that the Azerbaijani military opened fire on the NK police, according to Simonyan, does not play any role. He believes that in order to counter the dangers and risks, one can rely only on one’s own strength:
“Appeals and statements are just facilitating circumstances, they do not play a warning role. Only the presence of an appropriate hard force in the form of armed forces can prevent the impact of force. Azerbaijan can be brought into a constructive field only by a balance of forces, and it can only be achieved by modernizing the Armed Forces, establishing its own security system.”
Applications from Armenia
“The actions of the Azerbaijani sabotage group cannot be qualified otherwise than as terrorism. In parallel with the blockade of the Lachin corridor for almost three months and the actions aimed at creating a humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan continues to terrorize the Armenian population of Artsakh with the ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a meeting with the French co-chair in Yerevan OSCE Minsk Group by Brice Roquefay.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry invited ambassadors and representatives of international structures to a meeting to discuss the March 5 incident. Deputy Foreign Minister Vahe Gevorgyan told diplomats that “On March 5, the armed forces of Azerbaijan carried out a sabotage attack in Nagorno-Karabakh,” and gave details of what happened.
During the same meeting, the representative of Armenia on international legal issues, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, stressed that for more than two weeks, the Azerbaijani authorities have been ignoring the decision of the International Court of Justice to open the Lachin corridor, despite the fact that it is binding:
“The fact that this terrorist attack took place in the context of an unfulfilled decision indicates that Azerbaijan has become a malicious violator of international law.”
Statement from the unrecognized NKR
During a meeting of the Security Council, President Arayik Harutyunyan spoke on the latest negotiations with representatives of Azerbaijan and the warning received from Baku:
“The representative of Azerbaijan tried to discuss political topics using the word “integration”, but Mr. Shahramanyan [the negotiator from Karabakh] stated that if they have to discuss political issues, then this can only be the topic of recognition of the independence of Artsakh by Azerbaijan. He added that they are not authorized to discuss political issues and cannot discuss at this meeting either.
After that, Azerbaijan told us through its channels that either we adopt an integration policy, or there will be no solution to existing problems, on the contrary, there will be tougher and more drastic actions.
We did not accept, do not accept, and today I want to reiterate that this is not only the decision of the Security Council, but also the overwhelming majority of our people, deviation from our right to independence, to self-determination. And this means that in the near future we will have different problems to confront.
We choose either to continue the struggle that we are waging, or if there is a sentiment in society that we should accept Azerbaijan’s proposal, then they have the opportunity to speak out within the framework of their civil rights and say that the path we are following is chosen incorrectly, to form a new government in the country.
Assessment by Russia
The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent published information about the March 5 incident only the next day in the evening. However, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in its newsletter confirmed the fact that Azerbaijan had violated the ceasefire regime:
“At 10:00 on March 5, 2023, in the area of the settlement of Dyukyanlar, soldiers of the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan fired at a car with law enforcement officers of Nagorno-Karabakh. As a result of the clash, three men were killed and one who was in the car was injured. On the Azerbaijani side, the losses were two dead, one wounded.”
The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that in recent days there have been repeated violations of the ceasefire, and after the “armed incident on March 5” there are casualties on both sides:
“The incident once again confirms the imperativeness of the speedy return of Baku and Yerevan to negotiations on fulfillment of the tripartite statements of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, including those relating to the unblocking of roads, the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the preparation of a peace treaty.”
The Armenian expert community says that in this way Moscow is openly promoting itself as “the only platform for resolving the emerging humanitarian crisis and the looming security crisis around NK.”
Assessment by Western partners
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said there could be no military solution to the conflict:
“The only way to keep the peace is to sit down at the negotiating table, and the use of force undermines negotiations. […] The clearest conclusion for us is the need to continue direct dialogue and discussion between the parties themselves. This is an imperative for both sides.
We have played the role of a partner for both countries, facilitating tripartite interaction between foreign ministers as well as at the leadership level. We are ready – whether on a bilateral, trilateral or multilateral basis – to continue to be a partner in efforts to build a lasting peace. […]
We are not going to oppose any other proposal for mediation, and in fact we are not a mediator. We are a partner of these two countries.
I think that we have demonstrated, both in words and in deeds, the nature of our relations with the two countries, our ability to unite the two countries. […]
We are not doing this to compete with Moscow. We are doing this to bring about a solution to a long-standing conflict between these two countries, a conflict that, unfortunately, has consistently claimed lives, as happened on 5 March. We are interested in peace and security here.”
The French Foreign Ministry, in a statement expressed not only regret, but also presented its version of what happened:
“We regret the casualties as a result of a serious incident that took place on March 5, during which a car with police officers passing near the Lachin corridor was fired upon by Azerbaijani troops in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping forces. It is important that the facts are fully disclosed. We also call for strict adherence to the ceasefire.”
The press secretary of the EU Foreign Service reports:
“The EU deplores the outbreak of violence along the line of contact in Karabakh, which has resulted in at least five deaths. The circumstances surrounding this incident must be fully investigated. We urge the parties to exercise restraint to prevent any further actions that could further undermine regional stability and jeopardize the peace process.”
US or Russia mediating negotiations