Luc MICHEL for EODE Think Tank /
Avec Le Monde – Libération – Palgrave Macmillan / 2013 05 22 /
A new book – Europe's Next Avoidable War: Nagorno-Karabakh (Palgrave Macmillan) – remembers us the conflict between Armenia and Adzerbaidjan about this disputed Caucasian territory, one of the “frozen wars” of the former borders of Soviet Union.
I was in Armenia in late february 2013 for the presidential elections. The question of the Nagorno-Karabakh was still one of the main topic of the election. And it’s not a hasard if the armenian president Sarkissian, who won again a new term, was longtime before the leader of the Karabakh Committee in the years 1990 …
I : THE GEOPOLITICAL CONTEXT
One of the hot points of the NATO-Russia confrontation, are precisaly the self-proclaimed Republics of Pridnestrovie, Abbkhazia and South-Ossetia, which one calls also the “CIS-2”. Beside, in a similar confrontation, is the Nagorno-Karabakh, suporting by Armenia – the closest ally of Russia in Caucasus, against Adzerbaidjan, member of the pro-NATO GUAM. It is there that confrontation between NATO and Russia is expressed directly, at the Caucasian borders and the European steps of Russia.
“THE REPUBLICS FROM THE COLD”
Abkhazia (capital Sukhumi) ex-autonomous republic of Soviet Georgia since 1931, fought the Georgian forces from 1992 to 1994, shortly after the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991. Sukhumi does not recognize the sovereignty of Tbilissi on its territory and applies a policy aiming at reaching an independence recognized by the international community.
Ex-autonomous region of Georgia according to the administrative division of the USSR, South-Ossetia (capital Tskhinvali) proclaimed its independence on September 20, 1990. Tbilissi then counteracted and the military operations made thousands of deaths on both sides from 1990 to 1992. At the time of the first referendum of January 1992, shortly after the disappearance of the USSR, South-Ossetia massively expressed in favour of its independence towards Georgia. The South-Ossetians put the course on the bringing together with North-Ossetia, republic of the North Russian Caucasus, noting that Ossetians, whether North or South, voluntarily integrated Russia in 1774, about thirty years before Georgia. Nearly 99% of the South-Ossetians said “yes” to the referendum organized this 12 November 2006 by the separatist authorities and proposing to make of the region an independent State. Tskhinvali does not hide its strategic objective of reunification with North-Ossetia, a Russian republic of the North Caucasus, and categorically refuses to recognize the Georgian sovereignty on its territory.
Pridnestrovie (the PMR, capital Tiraspol) the most industrialized zone of the former Soviet Republic of Moldavia and populated to two thirds with Slavs, proclaimed its independence towards Kichinev in 1992, after the dislocation of the USSR and at the end of several months of combat against the pro-Rumanian Moldavian forces. Since, Tiraspol refuses to recognize the Moldavian sovereignty on its territory and applies an independent policy, reinforced after the referendum on the independence of September 2006, very largely gained by the supporters of the unification with Russia. 17 September 2006, a referendum took place indeed in the Moldavian Republic of Pridnestrovie (PMR), and, within the framework of this national consultation, the overwhelming majority of the population of this selfproclaimed republic decided for the continuation of the policy of independence of Pridnestrovie and its union with Russia.
Finally Nagorny-Karabakh (capital Stepanakert), which wants to be “the second Armenian State”, enclave with Armenian majority in Azerbaïdjan, made secession from Baku at the end of a war which made, between 1988 and 1994, thousands of deaths. Upper-Karabakh had the benefit, within the Soviet Republic of Azerbaïdjan, of the statute of autonomous region. In 1988, with the favour of Gorbachev’s perestroïka, the local population required the reunification of the enclave to the Soviet Republic of Armenia. In spite of multiple attempts of Moscow to restore calm in the country, a true war burst between the area and Azerbaïdjan after the fall of the USSR in 1991. September 2, 1991, the separatist authorities proclaimed the independence of the Republic of Upper-Karabakh including the autonomous region of Upper-Karabakh and the district of Chaoumian. A cease-fire intervened in 1994 but the situation remains tense, in spite of efforts of mediation of the SOEC group of Minsk. Since, negotiations are in progress at various levels between Baku and Erevan.
FOUR “FROZEN CONFLICTS”
Four “frozen conflicts” last around these four republics, that, with the support of NATO and of Washington, one tries to destroy by force. In Abkhazia and South-Ossetia attacked by Georgia, combat ceased only after the intervention of an international force of maintenance of peace. After the agression of South-Ossetia by Georgia in August 2008 and the short war between Russia and Georgia, Moscow recognized the two Caucasion Republic.
The situation remains tense in Upper-Karabakh, in spite of the cease-fire and the efforts of mediation of the SOEC. Pridnestrovie has claimed for 16 years its independence from Moldavia, through several referenda, and houses a Russian contingent of peace in spite of the Moldavian opposition.
It should be noted that on September 30 2006, presidents of the Parliaments of three of these self proclamed republics – but nevertheless in International law recognized like “subjects of international law” as parts to conflicts – (Abkhazia, South-Ossetia, Pridnestrovie) signed an agreement instituting the parliamentary Assembly of the Community “For the democracy and the rights of the people”. This Community, qualified since “CIS-2” was established in June 2006 by the leaders of the three republics and the Treaty of friendship envisages a mutual assistance at the political and economic level, but also, in the event of aggression, a military aid.
II : “EUROPE'S NEXT AVOIDABLE WAR: NAGORNO-KARABAKH” ?
It’s the thesis of the book of Dr Michael Kambeck (Editor) and Dr Sargis Ghazaryan (Editor) (*) for Palgrave Macmillan.
“Nagorno-Karabakh is the most perilous of the so-called frozen conflicts in Eastern Europe. In an area almost free of observers, the implications of a new war in Nagorno-Karabakh are largely underestimated”, says the publisher. The editors, capitalising on their experience within the NGO European Friends of Armenia, bring together voices from a diverse range of interdisciplinary perspectives within the social sciences and from practitioners working in the field. They shed light on the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, how it evolved, and likely scenarios, taking into account the changed landscape including the EU's new foreign policy instruments. The book includes concrete policy proposals in order to make war a less likely outcome.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan almost defines the intractable in so-called intractable ethnic conflicts. Ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union it has festered without much progress towards resolution. This book is the first to address the conflict across its various dimensions and to suggest approaches to its amelioration. What is most refreshing about the whole collection is the attitude that if it is to be resolved the conflict must be seen as ineluctably political and that military solutions would be anything but," writtes John Agnew (University of California, Los Angeles).
It must ne noted, as writtes one of the autors, that his “participation in this project came amid strong pressure from the pro-government wing of Azerbaijani diaspora in the United States to withdraw from the publication”.
HERE ARE SOME EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK, EXPOSING THE THESIS OF THE AUTORS :
"The book exposes the current situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflictand its implications, and has a strong interdisciplinary emphasis. By interdisciplinary emphasis we mean both the range of disciplines within the social sciences used to approach the general topic of the book and the combination of contributors who are both practitioners and scholars with a strong knowledge of this field, bringing a broad range of expertise to the volume”.
“On the other hand, we have to acknowledge that, despite efforts, it was not possible to convince a larger number of Azerbaijani authors to contribute to the volume. The key reason for rejecting to contribute was assumably the fear for repression by the Azerbaijani state, inside and even outside of Azerbaijan. The editors addressed the issue of balance in five ways:
(1) by inviting Azeri authors who are known to deliver an Azeri viewpoint independent of the prepositions from Baku (Gurbanov offers such a viewpoint);
(2) by ensuring that several authors are invited, who are known to defend more pro-Azeri viewpoints, despite not being of Azeri origin (without sharp differentiation, just under one-third of the contributors fall into that group);
(3) by limiting the number of contributors who are known to defend more pro-Armenian viewpoints (to roughly the same size as the aforementioned group);
(4) by inviting a larger number of contributors who are explicitly neutral in their background and viewpoints (more than one-third) [...]."
''Geysar Gurbanov (Azerbaijani blogger civic activist and former head of the NATO Information Centre in Baku, currently living in Seattle) reveals in a unique fashion the genesis and consequent evolution of the conflict: through the prism of the Greek myth of the Golden Apple of Discord, which led to the Trojan War. By furthering his analysis, based on genuinely innovative approaches to the conflict, the author applies the means of collective psychology to shed light on the conflict’s societal dimension. Moreover, he applies this toolkit to the seemingly most insurmountable obstacles to the conflict’s resolution. He argues that the solution to the conflict lies beyond the realpolitik of the state actors. In fact, he maintains that peace can be achieved only if larger parts of the societies affected participate, partially, through social media, and if democracy, tolerance and integration are enforced at a regional level."
III : DEBATING THE THESIS OF THE BOOK
This interesting book on this conflict and of the Caucasus geopolitics should stimulate a broad debate. Our critique precisely is that this debate is absent from the book itself. This book theses on this conflict are indeed those of the diplomacy of the European Union. They are here in filigree the illusions of the foreign policy of the EU, soft power without leadership and without real power, that appear.
The theses of the great actor of this conflict, Russia, are virtually absent. Not speaking of the Eurasianist positions on Greater-Europe. Yet it is far more than Moscow Brussels that the final solution can come in the "near abroad" where the EU's claim to challenge Russia.
Another great actor, NATO is too little mentioned. See the 12 rare mentions of the Atlantic Alliance in the index. And the absence of GUAM, anti-Russian alliance led by NATO, in the same index. Yet it is the expansion of NATO to the east which is, according to our analysis, one of the causes of the ongoing conflict since both spent decades. Washington, which dominates the geopolitical aggenda of the region, door to arm the warmongering of Tbilissi or Baku is also virtually absent.
My these is that is NATO which pushes to the perenisation of these conflicts, to the hostility between the neighbouring people. Because NATO may find it beneficial to create focal points for grievances, to maintain the logic of war for which it was created. Because NATO directly supports the extremist anti-russian theses of radicals in Kichinev and Tbilissi (as it also does in the Baltic States by narrowly supporting the Baltic extremists in their heinous anti-Russian xenophobia), against the supporters of peace.
Moscow proposed various peace plans, on the basis of federalisation of the concerned States, such as the Kozac plan for Moldova, all torpedoed by the extremists supported by NATO.
# APPENDIX 1 / THE BOOK
Europe's Next Avoidable War: Nagorno-Karabakh
Dr Michael Kambeck (Editor), Dr Sargis Ghazaryan (Editor)
Including contributions from Elmar Brok, Bernard Coulie, Andrew Cooper, Baroness Caroline Cox, Frank Engel, Geysar Gurbanov, Richard Giragosian, Uwe Halbach, Paryur Hovhannisyan, Otto Luchterhandt, Sergey Markedonov, Arpine Martirosyan, Katherine Morris, Tevan Poghosyan, Dirk Rochtus, Dennis Sammut, Peter Semneby and Charles Tannock.
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (5 Mar 2013)
Hardcover: 296 pages
DR MICHAEL KAMBECK is co-founder of European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) and is also its Secretary General. He worked as Director for Government Relations (Burson-Marsteller) and Chief of Staff for MEP Elmar Brok (European Parliament). He holds a PhD in Political Sci ence (University of Bonn) and an MA in European Studies (University of Leeds).
DR SARGIS GHAZARYAN is EuFoA's Senior Research Fellow. He has been Adjunct Professor of Conflict Analysis and Methodology of Conflict Resolution in Caucasus at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy (University of Trieste) and post-Doc research fellow at the Department of Political Science (University of Trieste). He holds a PhD in Political Geography and Geopolitics and an MA in International Relations and Diplomacy (University of Trieste).
# APPENDIX 2 / CONTENT
Introduction: Setting the Geopolitical Stage; S.Ghazaryan
PART I: APPROACHING THE CONFLICT: THE INTERNAL RATIONALE
The Quintessential Conflict: A Cultural and Historic Analysis of Nagorno-Karabakh; B.Coulie
A Case Sui Generis: Nagorno-Karabakh in Comparison with Other Ethnic Conflicts in Eastern Europe; U.Halbach
What the People Think: Town Hall Meetings Reveal the EU's Potential and Limits in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict; T.Poghosyan & A.Martirosyan
What the People Think: Key Findings and Observations of a Town Hall Meeting Project in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh; T.Poghosyan & A.Martirosyan
Nagorno-Karabakh: Learning from the Flemish Experience within Belgium?; D.Rochtus
The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in Light of Polls in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh; A.Cooper and K. Morris
PART II: THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AS FOREIGN POLICY ACTORS IN N-K: THE EXTERNAL RATIONALE
The EU's New Foreign Policy and Its Impact on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict; E.Brok
Soft and Hard Security in the South Caucasus and Nagorno Karabakh: A Euro Atlantic Perspective; R.Giragosian
The Cold War Legacy in Nagorno-Karabakh: Visions from Russia, The USA and Regional Actors; S.Markedonov
An Eye Witness' View: Human Suffering in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Possible Role of the UK in Preventing New Violence; C.Cox
Evolution of the EU Position Vis-A-Vis the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict; P.Hovhannisyan
PART III: EUROPE'S NEXT AVOIDABLE WAR: THE PEACE RATIONALE
Conflict and Security in Nagorno-Karabakh: What Contribution from the EU; P.Semneby
Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: the Golden Apple of Discord or a Toy that Two Have Failed to Share; G.Gurbanov
The EU'S Commitment in Nagorno Karabakh and the Required Steps Ahead; C.Tannock Building a 'Consensus for Peace' in Armenia and Azerbaijan; D.Sammut
The Karabakh Dilemma: Right to Self-Determination, Imperative of Territorial Integrity, or a Caucasian New Deal?; F.Engel
Learning from Georgia: A Non-Use-of-Force Treaty for Nagorno-Karabakh; O.Luchterhandt
Conclusion: Realistic Scenarios and How to Avoid a War in Nagorno-Karabakh; M.Kambeck
Pic : Nagorno-Karabakh. Military parade in Stepanakert.