Tuesday, April 3 2018 14:56
David Stepanyan

Neil Macfarlane: Soviet thinking is one of the main obstacles to the Karabakh settlement  

Neil Macfarlane: Soviet thinking is one of the main obstacles to the Karabakh settlement   

In an interview with ArmInfo, professor of the Department of Politics and International Relations at St. Anne's College of Oxford University, director of the Oxford Center for International Studies Neil MacFarlane states  the main differences of the Karabakh conflict from other conflicts in the post-Soviet space, giving him the existentiality. He argues on the role of the mentality of societies in resolving the conflict, considering the change of generations as a pledge to resolve the conflict in the future. And also speaks about the interests of Great Britain connected with Karabakh. 

Mr. Professor, in your opinion, what is the main difference between the Karabakh conflict and other conflicts, primarily in the post-Soviet space?

The main differences of the Karabakh conflict from other conflicts of this kind,  which I have stated  repeatedly,  are several. One of them is that the Karabakh conflict was more voluminous, large-scale, there were more victims, more destruction. I, for example, spoke about the conflicts in Georgia and Moldova - there were situations in which by 2008, according to estimates, up to two thousand people were killed. In Karabakh, tens of thousands of people became victims of the confrontation. The second difference in terms of the applicable to Nagorno-Karabakh, this is still a pressing immediate security threat. The ceasefire agreement proved ineffective, since people are shot almost daily. In Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Moldova, for example, the situation is different. As for Ukraine, there is also a difference here - the conflict is in an active stage, and in fact there is simply no ceasefire agreement. And it is not known how long this will continue. The next difference, in my opinion, is that, in the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the peoples on both sides are mentally much more distant from each other - both in matters of territories per se and in differences of opinion in connection with the contradictions between the principles : on the one hand, the rights of peoples to self-determination, and on the other - territorial integrity: here, of course, there is a similarity with other conflicts, but the emotions of both sides in this case is much more intense. 

What conditions do you think are necessary to create within the  necessary prerequisites for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict in the future? 

A lot of scientific research is carried out, there are many proposed tools and options for conflict resolution. As an example, a hypothetical situation is given, when both sides are simply so exhausted by the conflict that there is nowhere else to move beyond a certain point. But in this case, I'm sure such a model will not work. Another possibility is the presence of intermediaries that offer options, with a sufficiently powerful one for the parties to the conflict, and encourages them to overcome their own prejudices with arguments. But even this will not become effective soon. And, in the end, the Karabakh conflict is inherently existential for both sides, according to David Shahnazaryan (analyst, former head of the National Security Service of Armenia - ed.), Existential, and if it lasts a long time, in time it will lose its significance for the government will stop experiencing "pressure from below," and will be able to exercise greater flexibility in the negotiation process, or the two factors can somehow be combined to change the situation. I think that during today's conference ("The Perspective of Peaceful Ur "I think that there is a direct link between the personal security of the authorities of the countries participating in the Karabakh conflict, as, for example, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: local and international points of view." - Ed.) You noticed that people do not expect any special changes, the conflict, and the nationalism cultivated around it, in this light, it seems to me that the Karabakh conflict in a certain sense is consistently stimulated by the authorities of the opposing countries themselves. The change in the situation will become possible only if the domestic policy shifts in Armenia and Azerbaijan shift from the conflict in Karabakh to, for example, overcoming the problems in the social and economic situation and combating poverty. However, this requires time and considerable. 

In your report, using the example of the conflict around Northern Ireland, conducted a very interesting analogy with Karabakh, you mentioned that things which were  impossible initially were   made possible in just a few decades. Is not the main obstacle to the resolution of the Karabakh conflict still Soviet thinking in the conflicting countrie. Also what, in your opinion, besides time can promote a change of this thinking? 

I think that this is a very interesting question. As the saying goes, "hypothetically", the essence of the hypothesis here is the issue of changing generations. The Soviet generation will leave, and people of your age will move on. And I think that it is inevitable that people born after the collapse of the Soviet Union have and will have other thinking, a different mentality. And they will have other interests. I will give you one more example: In Canada, where I was born, at one time 63% of the population of the French-speaking province of Quebec voted for independence. And it is true. But if you raise the same question now, then the picture will be completely different - you will get the same 63%, but "on the other hand." And this is because there is a change of generations. People who were interested in secession are involved in this process, grow old, die, and the new generation is simply not interested in politics at all. They are busy with their daily life: hiking, entertainment, studying and so on. They simply do not care. But, of course, they vote in elections. And all they need is a stable environment in which they want to live. And separatism with these desires is simply incompatible. Therefore, they are not interested in him in any way. Time really changes things. 

Great Britain is a country showing increased interest in the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, in particular, initiatives at the level of Track 2, the so-called "public diplomacy". What, in your opinion, is it preconditioned with? 

This interest is primarily of a humanitarian nature. Secondly, the conflict generates such a phenomenon as migration. Thirdly, the conflict slows down the economic development of the region as a whole. As was once seen by someone, Britain is a participant in economic processes in the region, Britain has interests and makes investments - huge investments in Azerbaijan, in particular, in the Azerbaijan-Turkey pipeline. Meanwhile, if the active phase of the conflict resumes, all of this will instantly become vulnerable. If you go to Azerbaijani Yevlakh, then you will see the elevations of Karabakh from there, so everything is close. And the pipeline passes exactly there, nearby. Yes, we are interested in resolving the conflict. And, in the end, we have multilateral commitments. We are members of the OSCE, and in fact the EU.

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Сравнение с Канадой не уместно, там единое государство и проводились референдумы и были учтены результаты этих референдумов. Карабахе тоже состоялся референдум согласно закону СССр и там почти что лет 30 де-факто независимое государство. Выросло целое поколение и выпростает второе. Многие другие суждение спекулятивны потому что обобщают двух сторон. Как раз это старая Советская ошибка еще с полит бюро. А на самом деле обе стороны на столько отличны от друг друга что обобщать нечего. И мотивы и ситуация и стремления и экзистенциальное составляющее прямо таки противоположны.

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