Analyst: The international community is at a loss as to what to do now concerning Nagorno Karabakh conflict – INTERVIEW

Analyst: The international community is at a loss as to what to do now concerning Nagorno Karabakh conflict – <font color=red>INTERVIEW </font>
# 15 July 2011 14:45 (UTC +04:00)
Washington. Isabel Levine – APA. APA’s Washington DC correspondent’s interview with Amanda Paul, Policy Analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre

- What do you expect from the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process after the last meeting between Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Kazan?

- The meeting in Kazan did not deliver the much hoped for results even though President Obama called the two President’s the day before and encouraged them to sign the Basic Principles document, which heightened expectations that success was within reach. Unfortunately this did not happen and a major breakthrough was not achieved. Unfortunately very shortly after the meeting, the Armenian Foreign Minister, Eduard Nalbandian, took it upon himself to point the finger of blame at Azerbaijan which only served to launch a ping-pong blame game with each side announcing the other had failed to have a constructive approach towards the talks, which has resulted in Kazan being labeled a failure.

- What steps should Azeri side take in future?

- While it is clear that Azerbaijan is frustrated by the lack of results from the peace process, with the status quo being only of benefit to the separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh and those that support it, Azerbaijan has pledged to continue to engage in the talks for a peaceful solution, accepting the basic framework of the latest version of the Basic Principles .At this new impasse there is a greater need than ever for international engagement and pressure, therefore Baku should push for the further involvement of other international actors – in particular from the EU which should have a greater role in resolution of this conflict. In fact, given the lack of progress with the current structures Azerbaijan has indicated on several occasions that it would appreciate a greater role for the EU. What is clear is that while the eventual decision over the future status of Nagorno-Karabkah is some time off, the international community cannot continue to ignore the ongoing occupation of the Azerbaijani territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict has kept the entire region hostage, hobbling its potential. While it is clear Armenia has been economically affected at the same time the loss of territory has also had a considerable impact on the economy of Azerbaijan. The lands presently occupied were previously prime agricultural soils, and providing thousands of jobs. Furthermore having to sustain and house the some 800 000 Azerbaijani’s that were displaced from their homes in these territories has been a heavy economic burden on the country. In fact during a recent debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, a significant number of lawmakers recognized the need for Armenia to withdraw from Azerbaijani territories in line with the four relevant UN Resolution on this issue.

- Is there any chance that the US becomes more active in the mediation process and takes a leading position instead of Russia, e.g. host meetings between the conflicting sides?

- Russia is currently driving the peace process and this is supported by the international community. The United States has taken the lead in the past, for example at Key West, but when success seemed near it was snatched away and the talks collapsed. Frankly I believe the international community is at a loss as to what to do now because as the saying goes, you may bring a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. The US is now too busy elsewhere to give any greater attention to Nagorno-Karabakh and at the end of the day only strong political will from both sides including communicating to both societies that maximalist goals need to be dropped, will allow for progress and the signature of the Basic Principles.