Saturday

23rd Jan 2021

Opinion

Why did the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process just fail?

  • Previous fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2017. The long-running conflict risks dragging in Russia and Turkey, with grave geopolitical repercussions for the entire region (Photo: nkrmil.am)

The ongoing escalation of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is a most serious and significant one - just not surprising at all.

This is mainly due to the lack of tangible progress in the OSCE Minsk Group-led peace talks between the two sides, which have been held since 1994.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The absence of substantive negotiations over de-occupation of Azerbaijani territories, return of internally-displaced persons to the regions of their origin, the unblocking of transport, economic and other communications with Armenia has fuelled strong skepticism about peaceful conflict resolution.

Back in the summer it was evident that the smell of a new war had already hung heavily over the conflict-torn area.

The imitation of negotiations over the last few years and the prolongation of the status-quo have become the frustrating and discouraging aspect of the Minsk Group's mediation.

Clearly, the OSCE Minsk Group has failed to facilitate the sides' dead-end talks over the past several years.

The mediators' deadlock is increasingly seen as the most disturbing factor within the risk of the current escalation to turn into a full-blown war, which is fraught with growing regional instability, deeper geopolitical fragmentation, and even future socio-economic irrelevance and backwardness.

This is because their diplomatic efforts imply actions aimed at achieving 'negative' peace: preventing, stopping, or not permitting a renewal of hostilities in the conflict zone.

In fact, ineffective methods of conflict resolution are mostly directed to reach speedy agreements, hence establish negative peace.

Negotiations on stopping wars and entering agreements on non-use of force are only attempts to halt - or, at least, control - violence already happening, which has been caused by deep-rooted problems and circumstances.

However, there is also 'positive' peace which implies eliminating the internal and structural reasons and conditions arousing a violent conflict, toward the curtailment of which 'negative' peace processes are aimed.

So far, unfortunately, very little, if not nothing, has been done to achieve 'positive' peace.

This is not to belittle the role of the Minsk Group co-chairs or reduce their efforts to naught. But if conflicting parties are unable to reach 'positive' peace under the auspices of the international mediators in the near future, 'negative' peace will easily collapse and one way or another will lead to renewed hostilities it was aimed against.

This process could go on forever, which is evidenced by the ongoing skirmishes in and outside Nagorno-Karabakh, where a fragile 'negative' peace has been kept up for more than 26 years now.

If – and it is a big if – this heavy fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan evolves into a full-blown war, the long-running conflict may risk dragging in Russia and Turkey, along with severe negative economic consequences and grave geopolitical repercussions for the entire region.

This situation will also create diverse new challenges in the EU's eastern neighbourhood.

Perhaps the time is ripe for Russia and Turkey, the two powerful regional actors – through closer collaboration with the OSCE and the UN – to help Azerbaijan and Armenia search for an internationally-just and peaceful conflict resolution, respectful of two nations, their territorial integrity, national interests, and inherited traditions.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

War in Nagorno-Karabakh – the ceasefire that never was

This latest resumption in the conflict, as it is somewhat euphemistically called, is rather a self-declared offensive by Azerbaijan, aimed at achieving its desired outcome to the conflict by force rather than by negotiation.

The under-reported power struggle at the top of the OSCE

An internal power struggle has undermined the world's leading international security body since the summer. The OSCE is due to finally get new leaders in December but the unprecedented power vacuum has hit at a crunch time for hotspots worldwide.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary buys Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
  2. Netherlands imposes curfew to halt new corona variant
  3. Green NGO fails to stop Europe's biggest gas burner
  4. Swedish minister reminds Europe of Russia's war
  5. Spain: Jesuit order apologises for decades of sexual abuse
  6. NGOs urge Borrell to address Egypt rights 'crisis'
  7. EU conflict-area education aid favours boys
  8. EU told to avoid hydrogen in building renovations

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Italy's return to statism spells trouble for the eurozone

There are profound questions about whether the windfall of cash from the EU coronavirus recovery fund will truly help Italy recover or whether it will cause more problems than it solves, for Rome and the rest of the eurozone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk
  2. EU and Cuba appeal for Biden to open up
  3. Portugal's EU presidency marks return of corporate sponsors
  4. MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute
  5. EU warns UK to be 'very careful' in diplomatic status row
  6. A digital euro - could it happen?
  7. US returns to climate deal and WHO, as EU 'rejoices'
  8. Big tech: From Trump's best friend to censorship machine?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us