2016 ‘taught us good lessons’ over Nagorno-Karabakh – debate

16:56 • 21.12.16



The April war over Nagorno-Karabakh had the cold shower effect on the conflicting sides, reminding them of the wrinkled points in the peace process and teaching a good lesson to the Armenian authorities, a politician said today, summing up the developments of the past year.


“The steps, which the Armenian authorities initiated earlier, reflected their belief that the problem is now resolved, and the status quo can be maintained forever. The April war, however, demonstrated that the things do not absolutely go that way,” Aghasi Yenokyan said at a political debate.


Armenia had over 100 victims and lost about 800 hectares of land in the wake of the four-day hostilities along the Line of Contact.  At the peace summits held subsequently in Vienna, Austria and St Petersburg, Russia, agreements were reached to push forward for peace, highlighting, among other things,  the need for deploying ceasefire monitoring mechanisms on the fronline.


In September and August, respectively, Russian President Vladimir Putin held private talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to discuss future peace efforts. As President Serzh Sargsyan said later at a meeting with intellectuals, the negotiations “yielded absolutely no result”.


Stepan Grigoryan, another politician attending the debate, highlighted three factors linked to the April developments.


“First, the April war demonstrated that our soldier, and junior and mid-level officers and people are ready to defend their fatherland and are patriotic as opposed to the authorities. The second factor is that despite our efforts, the Minsk Group was unable to resume the process over Karabakh. And the third thing to say is that Russia not only is a mediator [as a co-chairing country of the OSCE Minsk Group along with US and France] but also pursues its own interest,” he added.  

Grigoryan attributed the Russian policies to a desire to see Azerbaijan in the Eurasian Economic Union. “This is why they pressure our authorities into concessions,” he noted.

“If negotiations are what we are speaking about, that process has seen a continuing status quo rather than a settlement over the recent years,” Alexander Iskandyan, the director of the Caucasus Center, said, citing the repeated attempts to disturb also that situation.


“[After the April escalations], the situation deteriorated even further in terms of security guarantees. The sides, including the co-chairmanship, managed to maintain a certain level of violence, which is lower compared to the pre-April events,” he added.

  

Iskandaryan said he sees no signs of progress at the moment, adding that the negotiating sides for now restrict their efforts to only averting further escalation.

 

The first lesson learnt after the April developments is that “nobody is going to solve our problems instead of us”, added Tevan Poghosyan, an opposition MP from the Heritage party.


“The very first task we managed to resolve was to give impetus to the military industries …On the frontline. we have real problems which they [the authorities] are trying to resolve. So we have to move forward, relying on those approaches.”

Reducing or ruling out corrupt schemes are not absolutely enough to secure progress, Poghosyan said, calling for strong efforts towards punishing those guilty.  

 
Another lesson, he added, is to develop the understanding that “the war isn’t over yet” and that it is necessary “keep relying on the psychology of war”.

 
Last but not least, the authorities in both and Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the international community realized that “we are ready to carry the struggle through”, Poghosyan added.

Anush Dashtents





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