Researcher of the Project on Russian and Eurasian Studies of the Royal Institute of International Relations (Chatham House) Laurence Broers in an interview with ArmInfo comments on the latest developments around the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Characterizes and assesses the viability of the Madrid principles, discusses the positions of the parties to the conflict, comments on the geopolitical factors accompanying the settlement.
Mr. Broers, the visit of the pretty honorous NKR delegation to Washington and the Brussels speech of the deputy head of the unrecognized Republic's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have become only a small part of the campaign conducted in the direction of her recognition. How do you see the prospects for international recognition of the NKR, considering that at the local level the independence of the republic is in fact already recognized by eight American and one Australian states?
The campaign related to the recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has been going on for several years. And several American and one Australian State have indeed already adopted resolutions in the interests of recognizing the NKR. At the same time, calling for recognizing Karabakh, all these regions proceed from the fact of building a democratic state in the NKR. It is rather difficult to assess the effectiveness of this campaign today. I think that recognition of the NKR at the level of few territories of the United States is not very effective. Moreover, this causes the opposite reaction, for example, of a campaign demanding to recognize the events in Khojaly as genocide. And all these games are played for the international audience and further expand the borders of the Karabakh conflict. In my opinion, in this way it not only does not contribute, but also to some extent hinders the process of conflict settlement. It is increasingly hindering and removing more necessary contacts between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. It is possible that the main importance of the resolutions in favor of recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh is more in lobbying diaspora organizations, seeking support for Armenian electorate and mutually supportive campaigns in these states and countries in the direction of self-determination of small nations. For example,Basquesin Spain.
Do you think the Madrid principles are still viable, after the further aggravated by the militarization of the parties to the conflict of the April war and the February regular statements by IlhamAliyev about the need to "get Yerevan back"?
Of course,we are talking about the Madrid principles, however, they are made up of those components that were the basis for the settlement since the very beginning of the negotiation process. Therefore for all these years nothing new by and large has not appeared under the sun. And the same "the LavrovPlan " is nothing but the rearrangement of the same components of the Madrid principles. You can change the order of these components, you can detail, but the basis of the idea, the basis of the settlement, while still the same. And there are no new ideas. The unpopularity of the Madrid principles, especially in Nagorno-Karabakh, is well known to me. You can call a settlement plan as you like, but this will not change its essence.
Do not you think that the main factor that hinders the implementation of the Madrid principles is the atmosphere of distrust between the parties? And, with the growth of aggressive statements, it getsdeeper ...
Of course, that's it The Madrid principles and proposals developed in the 1990s during the talks of ZhirayrLiparitan and VafaGuluzade are the most liberal principles of the conflict settlement. In contrast, for example,to the idea of exchanging territories. And distrust developing in all actively involved in the conflict units has nothing common with liberal space. Therefore, we see a great contradiction here, since it seems incomprehensible how to carry out the liberal concept of achieving peace in illiberal societies.
All mediating countries, without exception, argue that the settlement depends primarily on Yerevan and Baku, characterizing the current status quo around Karabakh as a status quo exclusively between the parties to the conflict. And you do not see the geopolitical component in the Karabakh status quo, filled with the interests of at least the US, France, Russia, Turkey and Iran, with all the ensuing consequences. To what extent is it possible to produce 5 Karabakh regions in Azerbaijan in a productive way and in general?
Before the April escalation, the matter was really was about this. However, here again there is a contradiction of the package and phased approaches. It may well be that having obtained these regions, Baku will not go any further on compromises on the status of Karabakh. This justifies the fears of the Armenian side. A from the point of view of Azerbaijan, having received unlocked borders in exchange for these regions, the Armenian side of the conflict can actually refuse to continue negotiations simply because of their uselessness. In other words, there is simply no trust between the parties to the conflict, which is capable of implementing certain creative approaches with the aim of realizing the main components of the settlement. Mistrust of the parties to the conflict is mutual and is due to the lack of liberal demand for the formation of a concept aimed at achieving a peaceful exit from the existing impasse. Such a situation, in my opinion, works in favor of maintaining Armenian control over Karabakh and in favor of political regimes in the conflicting countries. Any serious change in the status quo will be accompanied by a loss of security, and, possibly, the emergence of new trends threatening these regimes.
In other words, do you see the root of the problem solely in the relations between the authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan with their own societies, and not in the relations of the mediating countries?
I am convinced of this deeply and unequivocally. This condition of of affairs is very noticeable for a long time. In the region, the emphasis on the reasons for the unresolved conflict is placed on geopolitical factors. Outside the region, as the main problem on the way to resolving the conflict, as a result of analyzing its causes, we see mainly internal factors. The fact that the regimes do not want to compromise is one part of the problem. However, they do not want this last, based on public opinion in their countries. This, of course, does not mean that, for example, there is a great public demand for war in Azerbaijan. We simply do not know what the Azerbaijani society really wants. The results of the latest polls in Armenia suggest a significant trend in favor of the rejection of territorial compromises. As far as I see and understand the current situation around the status quo, the conjuncture in domestic politics around this issue is very stable. Accordingly, I do not expect any fundamental changes around this status quo in the coming years. Never say “never”, but I do not see the prerequisites for a big war for Karabakh today. At the same time, I estimate the periodic, controlled escalations on the contact line as very probable. This can be initiated by the authorities with the aim of consolidating societies, and in the case of Azerbaijan, it is also necessary to maintain the international memory of a frozen conflict.