Tensions over Karabakh linked to Azerbaijan’s belligerence – Armenian analyst

10:34 • 13.09.16



The continuing tension along the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) is due largely to Azerbaijan’s blatantly belligerent policies, according to Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan, a Yerevan-based political analyst.  


“While in the past [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev pretended to back a peaceful settlement plan, he now makes calls for seeing the entire Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan. And that’s his precondition for a peaceful settlement, which isn’t realistic. All understand that such a maximalist demand can entail a renewed war,” he told Tert.am, commenting on a recent statement made by Ambassador James Warlick, the US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group.

 
In an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax, the US diplomat shared his concerns over the April escalations along the Line of Contact, describing the situation as very dangerous. “A lot of people call this a frozen conflict, but as we‘ve seen especially recently, it‘s not frozen at all, it‘s very active conflict. And in the beginning of April we saw just how dangerous it can be. You know when I started this job a few years ago, the greatest danger came from snipers. And of course that is very unfortunate that there were many lives lost with snipers firing at each other. The situation is much more dangerous today because we see the presence of heavy weapons – mortars and rockets, another heavy weapons along the line of contact. And we saw in April just how dangerous this can be. I think that there is a risk of escalation with these heavy weapons along the line of contact. There is a danger not just of an escalation, but a miscalculation that could be very dangerous. So I would certainly not call it frozen, I would call it very active conflict and one that we should be very much engaged.”

 

Addressing the negotiation process, Melik-Shahnazaryan said it is now stalled, with absolutely no dynamics being observed. “That tense situation cannot slip Warlick’s attention. He clearly sees that such a demanding stance is about to escalate into a war. He virtually tries to maximum focus the international community’s attention on that, voicing [his call] as an alarm,” he noted.

 

With its belligerent statements, Azerbaijan does not add any value to the process, with the Armenian side being strongly opposed to territorial concessions. “As for the international perceptions, Warlick clearly mentioned the mechanisms which the international community sees. That refers to the formula ‘territories for status.’ ”

 

The international mediators’ continuing efforts to reach further progress are absolutely logical given their active work in the past couple of months (including the initiative to arrange presidential meetings), the analyst added. “But the mediators confront Azerbaijan’s maximalist demands. and so all the initiatives and proposals fail by and large. I believe the Minsk Group’s activities will be more effective if they try to neutralize the emerging problems instead of issuing statements that say practically nothing,” he said.

 

Liana Arakelyan





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