Analyst Thomas de Waal: The international community needs to invest more resources into the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict

Analyst Thomas de Waal: The international community needs to invest more resources into the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict
# 11 May 2010 08:57 (UTC +04:00)
Washington. Isabel Levine – APA. “Turkey and Armenia can’t open the border between them, because we’re still stuck in negative regional dynamics such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”, - stated Thomas de Waal, senior associate of the Eurasian program of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in US capital, in an organization’s last report, APA’s Washington correspondent reports.

The analyst reminded that, in 1993, after one Armenian operation which captured a large Azerbaijani province in solidarity with its Azerbaijani neighbors, the Turks closed the border.

“We have two issues laid one on top of the other. One is what happened in 1915, that huge tragedy during the First World War and then more recently, the lesser but also tragic, history of the early 1990s, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict”.

Mr. Waal believes that, the dialogue has begun on the level of societies and that will continue now that the Armenians have taken a step back from the process but haven’t killed off the process.

“Armenian President Sarkisian and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, met at the beginning of April in Washington on the sidelines of President Obama’s nuclear summit to try to see if they could bridge their differences, but they couldn’t”.

Although, according to analyst, the big problem here, the pebble in the shoe which keeps on coming back, is the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The Armenians are still in control of not only Karabakh but the zone around Karabakh. And Turkey, in solidarity with Azerbaijan, closed its border with Armenia during the war to support the Azerbaijanis. The two processes are not formally linked, but everyone knows that in some ways they are actually linked. The Armenians want to see normalization with Turkey and an opening of the border to proceed anyway—they say the border opening is good for both countries. Turkey sort of accepted that, signed the protocols, but simultaneously, were hoping and saying we need some progress on the Karabakh issue and that Armenia must move forward if we are going to ratify these protocols. Between the signing and the ratification, nothing happened on the Karabakh issue and basically, even though the Karabakh issue was not mentioned in the protocols, the Turks have basically made this a precondition and this is why we’re stuck.

Mr. Waal also reminded that, President Gul was the one who flew to Armenia in September 2008 to a soccer match in Yerevan which kicked this whole thing off, while Prime Minister Erdogan has several times explicitly said that Armenia needs to move forward on the Karabakh issue for the Turks to move forward on the protocols.

“There have been some mixed messages here. The big question is why the Turks signed protocols with Armenia which explicitly did not mention the word Azerbaijan or the word Karabakh. They clearly hoped that something would happen in parallel; the hopes may be that someone would take care of the Azerbaijani factor. That didn’t happen so they found themselves boxed in earlier this year. With no progress on Karabakh, Azerbaijan was extremely unhappy, Armenians were insisting on forward movement, and they basically put a halt to the whole process”.

Speaking about the U.S. policy on the issue, analyst stressed that, Washington is a key player in this process.

“The international community needs to invest more resources into doing something about this. It’s really a tiny group of people who are trying to resolve this conflict and they don’t really have enough international support” – he added.

Mr. Wall is an author of the authoritative book on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War (NYU Press, 2003), which has been translated into Armenian, Azeri, and Russian.