EODE-BOOKS - Karabakh


EODE-BOOKS – reading – learning – training

A service of the Department EDUCATION & RESEARCH

of The Ngo EODE


 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)


READ ALSO the review of this book by Luc MICHEL

With a long introduction to the geopolitical context – the four “frozen wars” on the borders of former Soviet Union – on :



 This volume was conceived as a response to the increased interest of the  expert community, the scholars dealing with ethno-political conflicts in the European Union’s (EU) neighbourhood and that of the general public.

The decision to write such a book was all the more urgent given the likelihood of a renewed outbreak of war in and around Nagorno-Karabakh (NK), a small region of 4,400 sq. km, (1)

 with a population of roughly 130–140,000, and a contested status: de facto independent, but internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan. Moreover, it is also our aim to contribute to filling a considerable gap in the area of research and policy analysis about the conflict in the  current shifting geopolitical environment. Our purpose is to accompany the reader on anintricate, but fascinating journey which reflects the complex, tragic, yet still marvellous Caucasian patchwork. To that end, the conflict’s timeline will surely be useful. (2)

“An arms race, escalating front-line clashes, vitriolic war rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks are increasing the chance Armenia and Azerbaijan will go back to war over Nagorno-Karabakh”, as the International Crisis Group (ICG) puts it in its latest report, (3)

 exposes the need for such a volume now. In other words, by capitalising on the lessons learnt from the developments during the months leading to the August 2008 war in Georgia,

we intend to shed light on the strategic significance of avoiding Europe’s next war, for the security and foreign policy agendas of all actors directly or indirectly involved in the South Caucasus. The current overlap of interests of the major external actors involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh talks, France, United States and Russia is a distinctive feature for the prevention of war – unlike the pre-war situation in Georgia, where there was a clash of interests of the external actors. However, both the situation on the ground and the

macro-regional security environment display so many variables and fragilities that the avoidance of military escalation is far from being guaranteed.

 The book exposes the current situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and 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);

(5) most importantly, by verifying that all information provided in the contributions is factual and can be verified with the sources provided.

 This also counts for the Timeline

and the Conclusion, where the editors sought to represent both viewpoints of the key issues indiscriminately. For example, our timeline includes information on the much disputed Khojaly killings of February 1992, representing that Azerbaijan views this as “Genocide”, but also referring to relevant other sources – without making a conclusive judgement. Another example may be the much disputed meaning of the four UN resolutions of 1993 on the

Karabakh war, both viewpoints of which are represented in the Conclusion chapter, and again leaving the conclusive judgement to the reader.

 The volume collects contributions focusing not only on different aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (particularly the EU’s external actions related to conflict resolution) but also from the varied perspectives of legal studies, geopolitics, history, sociology, comparative politics, international affairs and EU foreign and security policy studies. In other words, our intention is to bridge academia with policy making in an effort which is not exclusively descriptive and analytical, but has the ambition of being prescriptive and providing policy proposals.

 Our goal is to deliver a comprehensive picture by combining these diverse viewpoints on, and dimensions and narratives of the conflict as seen by Introduction 5different authors against the background of their respective specialities. For instance, when it comes to different narratives, the reader will find apparently diverging dates for the start of the military operations in NagornoKarabakh – some authors put it in the end of the 1980s, others in the beginning of the 1990s – that is, because of unusual fact of the absence of a declaration of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, while several events

between 1988 and 1992 were marked by the use of force or military hostilities. Besides, military operations were on-going between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in NK, yet they also heavily affected the frontline communities along the Armenian–Azerbaijani border proper. In addition, our aim is to provide the reader with a thorough analysis of the conflict in NagornoKarabakh and of how it has evolved throughout the years, showing from a variety of angles how we got to where we are today and ultimately deriving concrete and more promising policy proposals than are otherwise currently debated.

 As the title suggests, the latter will focus on measures to reduce the heightened possibility of the outbreak of war. Overall, the book is intended to contribute to the debate in academia and among policy makers.Until very recently, the conflict has mainly been analysed in the context of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group activities, partly ignoring the fact that the powers concerned have evolved and that the EU as a new foreign policy actor is progressively appearing on the scene. In this context, the fact that the scope of the topic is located between the ethnic conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and Common

Foreign and Security Policy means that the theme can be perceived as part of the wider discourse on “conflict prevention and crisis management” and “state building and institutional transformation”, which has been dominant in the EU ever since the fall of the Soviet Union.

 Above all, the primary purpose of this volume is to explore the chances of war and peace in Nagorno-Karabakh amidst a rapidly evolving geopolitical environment, both regional and global, and to detect both a locus and a modus operandi for EU action, which may determine a breakthrough in the currently volatile and explosive situation around Nagorno-Karabakh.

Finally, the present volume offers a plurality of voices and perspectives, which by definition will in some cases be in contrast with each other. These analyses and their variety of perspectives are framed into a coherent framework, consisting of the introduction with the geopolitical setting and the timeline, the conclusion and in between the three parts: the internal rationale of the conflict; its external rationale; and the peace rationale, each

focusing on the conflict from a particular angle.


1 / Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/401669/

Nagorno-Karabakh (date accessed: 07 March 2011).

2 / See Timeline 1918–2011, pp. 24–32.

3 / International Crisis Group (2011) Armenia and Azerbaijan: Preventing War, ICG

Report, 08 February 2011, Brussels, 5, http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/europe/

caucasus/B60-armenia-and-azerbaijan-preventing-war.aspx (date accessed: 07 March




 Part I explores the internal rationale of the conflict, its genesis and evolution; its common

features and differences with other ethno-political conflicts; the ways in which the involved societies perceive the conflict; and the place it has made in their collective consciousness for fears and expectations, assumptions and core beliefs, proximity and distance – in other words in their mental maps.

 Part II analyses the external rationale by outlining the wider geopolitical visions of the EU, the United States, Russia and the regional actors who affect the conflict’s dynamics.

 Part III, final part of the book,  investigates the rationale for peace and try to answer the question: How can we avoid Europe’s next war? In doing so, the authors explore the ways

in which Europe can act to prevent another tragedy in the South Caucasus, or in other words, in Europe.



 Prof. Bernard Coulie (Université Louvain la Neuve) approaches the conflict from historical, cultural and identity-oriented perspectives. By stating that the Caucasus is the “revolving door between East and West”, and that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is “quintessential in that it confronts the observer with basic questions which exist more generally in today’s world”,

he poses fundamental questions – from an innovative perspective – about war, the burden of history, cultural contamination, identity/otherness interplay and Europe’s role in the region.

 While comparing the conflict with other ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe, Uwe Halbach (SWP, Berlin) reveals that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is arguably the most serious in terms of extra-regional implications. After outlining the distinctive traits of the conflict, he emphasises Azerbaijan’s frustration with the status quo and Armenia’s hopes to preserve

the situation. The combined stagnation in the reconciliation process, and the urgency to resolve matters in order to avoid military escalation, constitute a significant challenge to the international community, according to the author. Moreover, the author argues that as with the 2008 war in Georgia, the international community will find itself similarly unprepared

in the event of an outbreak of war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

 Tevan Poghosyan (ICHD, Yerevan) and Arpine Martirosyan (independent expert, Uppsala) analyses the fascinating results of THMs (town hall meetings), which are informal public meetings conducted in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh. This unique format reveals important findings about the perceptions of war, security and social and economic

development among different strata of the three societies. The author explains that solutions to the conflict are seen through one prism by the participants: their own position. Trust is regarded as a key to the solution of the conflict. Currently, however, the relationship between the parties is dominated by extreme distrust.When it comes to the EU, the author exposes a mismatch between EU ambitions in the region and the way societies perceive the Union, a situation which the EU needs to take into account in order to adjust its tools to match its declared goals in the region.

 Dirk Rochtus (Lessius University College, Antwerp) offers a unique analysis in which he draws comparisons between the independence movements of Flanders and Nagorno-Karabakh in order to highlight some surprisingly common features. After stating that neither Flanders nor Nagorno-Karabakh would tolerate the resurrection of a unitary, centralised state, he offers different policy options for the next stages in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution.

 Andrew Cooper (Populus, London) and Katherine Morris (independent expert, London) analyse the findings of the only internationally conducted comparative opinion poll to date in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The poll of October 2010 concerns the overall regional situation and the role of the international community. The results will surprise those who argue that the societies are not ready for peace. The findings highlight several important issues such as the threats perceived by the people and the need for specific confidence building measures; and the mismatch between the declared roles of international organisations and NGOs and how the people affected by the conflict perceive them.

 The objective of Baroness Cox’s (House of Lords, London) chapter is twofold. It describes, from the perspective of one of the very few Western eye witnesses on the ground, the political-military developments which led to the war in Nagorno-Karabakh between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of independent Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, the chapter is also devoted to the possible role of the UK in preventing a further escalation of tensions in the region. While the UK is not directly involved in the negotiation process, it is supporting current diplomatic efforts, and there is a certain potential to reinforce this policy.



 Having followed and promoted developments from within the EU’s foreign affairs machinery, Elmar Brok (MEP, Brussels) provides an analysis of the transformation of the EU’s non-role into a role in the South Caucasus, and in Nagorno-Karabakh in particular. He also sheds light on developments within the EU itself and its foreign and security policy toolkit. The leitmotiv

of the chapter is the assumption that the “underlying basis for the EU’s foreign policy remains the Union’s common values of peace, achieved through economic and political integration, democracy and the rule of law – including international law”. The author pledges an increased and more incisive role for the EU in addressing the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

 While outlining the shifting geopolitical environment in the region from a Euro-Atlantic perspective, Richard Giragosian (Regional Studies Centre, Yerevan) argues that two recent developments in the Southern Caucasus, namely the 2008 war in Georgia and the process of Armenian–Turkish rapprochement, have dramatically altered the regional security landscape,

providing a window of opportunity to ensure durable security and lasting stability. The author suggests that in order to ensure lasting stability, there are two main sets of imperatives: firstly, a concerted international effort to ensure the immediate strengthening of a ceasefire regime in NagornoKarabakh and the participation of the latter at the negotiation table; and secondly, a firm enhancement of democratic and economic reforms throughout the region.

 Sergey Markedonov (CSIS, Washington, D.C.) provides the reader with an extensive and comprehensive analysis of the shifting visions of Russia, the United States, Turkey and Iran regarding the South Caucasus in general and Nagorno-Karabakh in particular. Furthermore, he addresses both the recent conflict dynamic and the evolution of the peace process, highlighting cooperative, rather than competing, attitudes of Russia and the United States when it comes to the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh. A consensus between Russia and the West regarding Nagorno-Karabakh is a significant exception compared to the situation surrounding Georgia in 2008 and can make a tangible difference while pushing for the final settlement of the conflict. Finally, he prioritises, in the current stage of the peace process, the prevention of the use of force by all sides through a legally binding document.

 Paruyr Hovhannisyan (EuFoA, Brussels) presents a detailed analysis of the evolution of the EU position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from the 1980s up to the present, and concludes by outlining anticipated future scenarios. He notes the importance of being mindful of recent history in order to ensure that current strategies remain consistent and sustained.

While the chapter refers to all European Institutions and bodies, particular stress is made on the activities of the European Parliament, as the driver of EU new policies and innovative ideas vis-à-vis the region.



 By addressing the EU’s potential to contribute to the resolution of the

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to security in the region, Peter Semneby

(former EUSR to the Southern Caucasus, Brussels) outlines the EU’s policy in

the region. He agrees that the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh, as one

of the most dangerous conflicts in the EU neighbourhood, poses a serious

danger for this volatile and strategically important region. According to the

author, the peace process is being constantly threatened, and the EU could

play a more assertive role.

 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.

 In his mainly policy-oriented contribution, Charles Tannock (MEP, Brussels) seeks to answer the following question: “Since the conflict in and surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh is clearly an increasing security threat to the European Union (EU), what are the appropriate responses of the EU and its Member States to prevent and deter military escalation and a renewed outbreak of hostilities in the region and ultimately to resolve the conflict?” The author provides an uncommonly clear analysis of both threats and opportunities for the Union,which stem from regional instability in the South Caucasus, and he suggests truly innovative policy proposals, implying the use of the new foreign and security policy instruments in the EU’s possession.Dennis Sammut (LINKS, London) argues that at present, the positions

of both Armenia and Azerbaijan are cemented and share diametrically opposite and mutually exclusive visions about ways out of the conflict. The 1988–94 war in Nagorno-Karabakh still has considerable influence on both countries’ politics. The chapter urges political change whereby the political elites in both countries embrace a consensus for peace by overcoming their respective differences. He suggests building a broad foundation of those

who believe that peace is the only way forward for a viable future.

 According to Frank Engel (MEP, Brussels) the possibility of violent conflict is omnipresent in this region, as illustrated by the outbreak of war in Georgia in 2008. Arguments on both sides have the right to exist, but do not lead to the solution of the conflict. The author suggests that the Caucasus might follow the example set by the European Union which, after centuries

of warfare in Europe, took the bold move of gradually rendering irrelevant the formerly contested borders of its Member States.In his international law-focused analysis, Prof. Otto Luchterhandt

(University of Hamburg) touches upon Azerbaijan’s interpretation of the principle of self-defence. He compares Azerbaijan’s position with that of Georgia before the 2008 war and suggests that conclusions need to be drawn from that experience and applied to Nagorno-Karabakh. The author strongly advocates for the urgency of an international, legally binding move resulting in Azerbaijan’s compliance with the ceasefire for the entire duration of the Bishkek Ceasefire signed in 1994, which is indefinite.

 Michael Kambeck (EuFoA, Brussels) draws conclusions from the volume by suggesting a set of recommendations for Europe on how to avoid the next war on the continent’s soil – in Nagorno-Karabakh. As a basis for these proposals, the author coherently offers a comprehensive description of the status quo, derived from the contributions in this volume. Using the same methodology, he outlines scenarios of war and peace. Ultimately, he concludes that since the next war in Nagorno-Karabakh “can be avoided, it should be”.



 Introduction: Setting the Geopolitical Stage; S.Ghazaryan



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



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



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

 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

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0230300669

ISBN-13: 978-0230300668












* EODE / Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Election (Brussels-Paris-Moscow-Kichinev- Yaounde)



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