Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis: No Compromise Yet

Would Azerbaijan and Armenia start a war soon or would it be just a border clash? Maybe this conflict would create a new environment where Russia and Turkey could talk to each other.

The deadly clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh created a new cold wind not only between Azerbaijan and Armenia but also between Turkey and Armenia. Turkish president's unconditional support for Azerbaijan is understandable but it will further worsen the Turkish-Russian relations. Russia also supports unconditionally Armenia, keeping its military forces on the Armenian territory.

Putin’s several warnings that Armenia and Azerbaijan should come to the peaceful resolution of the conflict appeared unheard and now Azerbaijan’s one-sided declaration of truce did not change the fact that neither Russia nor the OSCE Minsk group provided any real suggestions to stop the fighting.

Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev feels domestic pressure and needs to act after the oil prices continue to fall down and such projects as ‘’Kaçkıns’’ (nearly one million Azeris who left their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh) cannot be realized so effectively as a couple of years ago.

The Armenian occupation of the Azeri territory for more than two decades became a de facto political reality. Armenians enjoyed the Russian support and turned the face to Russia rather than to Europe, like Georgia and Azerbaijan. Also the Armenian diaspora was very effective abroad to get support from the western intellectuals and media whereas Azerbaijan was relying more on Turkey and the EU politicians. President Aliyev’s political experience in the Council of Europe helped him to take the ‘’EU-path’’ but it did not bring any positive results to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict because none of the EU countries was willing to get Russia as ‘’enemy’’ because of Azerbaijan.

The disappointment of the western countries policies forced at first father Geidar Aliyev and now his son İlham Aliyev to get back to the ‘’Moskau Garten’’ in order to find the Nagorno- Karabakh solution with the Russian arbitrary help. But Russia also disappointed Azerbaijan, because the Kremlin did not take any concrete steps in that direction. Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the few cases where Russia was not able to solve the conflict of ‘’former Soviet brothers’’. On the contrary, Russia will be considered by some outside observers as the main source of escalation, because Moscow one-sidedly supported Armenia at the cost of Azerbaijan. Putin’s regular meetings with Azeri and Armenian presidents in Kremlin failed to find a compromise between these two countries.

During the last decade Azerbaijan heavily armed its soldiers "from top to toe" and certainly has military superiority over Armenians. However, Russia’s backing stopped Azerbaijan to move deeper into the Nagorno-Karabakh. The border clashes during the last couple of years created the impression among the Azerbaijan public opinion, that Baku could take back all the occupied territories. But President Aliyev was careful not to anger Russia. And now, Russia’s pressure forced Aliyev to declare one-sided weapon truce.

Turkey’s cold relations with Russia have also affected the Turkish-Azeri links. While there is no hope to start a new Turkish-Armenian ‘’peace’’ process, Azerbaijan suffers strongly, that its good relations with Turkey could be worsened because of Russia’s pressure not only on the Caucasian countries, but also on Central Asian Turkic republics. In other words, Azerbaijan became ‘’victim’’ of the cold relations between Russia and Turkey and Aliyev had to act before the worst was to come.

The main question is whether Azerbaijan would or could ‘’take the occupied territories’’ back? The answer is no! The reason is that without the consent of Russia it is not possible. But how long Armenia would keep these territories? Forever?

The Armenian’s insistence not to withdraw from the occupied territories and begin peace talks with Azerbaijan would make the region fragile and conflictual. Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan is rather ‘’verbal’’ than military. Turkey would not get involved in the conflict militarily if there is a war between the two countries.

Having enough problems on Syrian borders,Turkey cannot sustain another conflict at the Armenian border. The Turkey’s military intervention in Azeri-Armenian conflict would generate the Russian involvement on the Armenian side. It is not a horror film scenario but a rather naked reality. Turkey versus Russia, or NATO versus Russia because of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Never Say Never Again was one of the James Bond films during the Cold War years.

Would Azerbaijan and Armenia start a war soon or would it be just a border clash? Maybe this conflict would create a new environment where Russia and Turkey could talk to each other. Putin and Erdoğan should talk urgently to avoid the danger of war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. President Aliyev is in more difficult situation than President Sargsyan. But it does not change the fact that Armenia still occupies the Azeri territory. İt is difficult to justify the tragedy of nearly one million Azeri Kaçkıns who live in difficult conditions in Azerbaijan and still hope to return to their homes. The military conflict is not the main reason; the human suffering is the reason to end this bloody conflict between the “former Soviet brothers.”
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.