Thomas de Waal: I don't expect the situation with Nagorno Karabakh to change after the election

Thomas de Waal: I don
# 23 February 2013 08:00 (UTC +04:00)

Washington. N. Kazimova – APA. APA Washington correspondent’s interview with Senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, specializing primarily in the South Caucasus Thomas de Waal.

- How can the re-election of Serzh Sargsyan affect peace prospects with Azerbaijan?

- I don't expect the situation with Nagorno Karabakh to change after the election. Serzh Sarkisian can afford to be a little bolder in his second term, but the fundamental realities are so bad at the moment that it is unrealistic to expect anything positive. On the contrary, there is a real chance of a flare-up at the moment because of the opening of the airport in Karabakh.

-What is your opinion about the vocal protests from the Armenian civil society members, coupled with somewhat muted congratulatory response from the U.S. government and the observation bodies?

- I think there was a mixed reaction to the result. To achieve officially 37 per cent was a good outcome for Raffi Hovannisian, given the way the incumbent president controlled the media and was able to use "administrative resources." Armenia has the form but not the substance of elections. It is not possible to say that Hovannisian was "cheated" of the election because the playing field was not level in the first place.

- On another note, I would like to ask about the Azerbaijani efforts to bring attention to the Khojali massacre of 1992. In general, what is your evaluation of the continued efforts by the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities?

- The Khojali was the worst war crime of the Karabakh conflict. It was also not the only one, which means if there is to be justice it has to deal comprehensively with all the instances of killings of civilians in the conflict. Selective justice is not the answer.

It is very difficult to strike a good balance between memorializing and honoring the dead of terrible episodes like Khojali -- or indeed Sumgait -- and using them for political ends. Sadly, I see that more and more these tragic episodes are exploited for political purposes to call for revenge or hatred against the other side. I am afraid this is a road that leads nowhere.

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