Russia-West standoff over "moderation" in the South Caucasus
Searches for feasible and practical solutions to expedite a lasting settlement to the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict should be based on the current realities on the field, and not on attempts to pull mothballed ideas from the past that have long been rejected by the current winner with a final say in the whole process.
The Russian plan to leave the issue of a Karabakh “status” for the future was rejected right away by Azerbaijan as Baku ruled out any attempts to this end, adding that the issue has completely switched to a new and final phase with a peace deal to be signed to turn a new page in the relations of the two arch enemies.
Attempts to revisit the issue, when the parties accepted the CIS December agreement recognizing and defining the boundaries of the former Soviet satellites, as starting point, Azerbaijan regarded Russia’s move as a desire to slow down the resolution of the problem.
In the meantime, both Russia and the West remain more or less active in their efforts to mediate a peace deal between Baku and Yerevan, and after the 44-day second Karabakh war, a lot has changed as well as approaches to the mediation mission of the OSCE Minsk Group as it failed to live up to the mandate it was vested with. Now that Azerbaijan has accomplished the largest share of the mission, the mediators with far-reaching national interests in the region are not giving up hopes on somehow securing their gains and place for future endeavors.
Russia as one of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, which officially confirmed the death of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as France and the USA as another two co-chairs still stick to the opinion that they can and should remain key arbiters although Baku is for their limited involvement.
Nevertheless, Russian pundit Sergei Markedonov believes that “the one proposed by Russia, on the one hand, and the West, on the other, is not too different. Has Putin not said at the meeting of the Valdai Club that a peace treaty should be signed?! And he repeated this thesis more than once. Both Russia and the USA are talking about delimitation and demarcation. Both those and others talk about the need to find a solution to Karabakh. It's just a matter of moderation".
Political expert Kamran Rustamov in a comment for Azernews said that “this is not entirely true. The Western model does not include the issue of Karabakh. We are talking in general about establishing peace between countries with the signing of a peace treaty, as well as resolving the issue of border delimitation and unblocking transport links. The Russian model is distinguished precisely by the Karabakh component, which is rejected by one of the parties. Therefore, this plan obviously has no prospects”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also spoke about the issue.
"Armenia and Azerbaijan, together with the EU, signed a document on their readiness to conclude a peace treaty on the terms outlined in the Almaty Declaration of December 1991. The Almaty Declaration states that the borders between the newly independent states will run along the administrative borders of the union republics, including the Armenian SSR and the Azerbaijan SSR, and the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was part of the Azerbaijan SSR,” Sergei Lavrov emphasized.
Everything within Azerbaijan is an internal affair of the country. In addition, I think that Azerbaijan, together with representatives of the Armenian community of the mountainous part of Karabakh, who were citizens of Azerbaijan or their descendants, will find mutually acceptable models of coexistence. All intruders must be thrown out of the negotiation process. First, we are talking about Vardanyan, who dumped these Armenians on the head, from whom Russia also disowned.
"Vardanyan has nothing to do with Russia, the Russian authorities have nothing to do with him, at his request a presidential decree was signed the other day, he is no longer a citizen of Russia, and any cases related to his decision to go to Karabakh and to start participating in some kind of political life there, we did not have, do not have and are not going to have," Lavrov said.
Further, I would like to draw attention to the statements of the Russian political expert Markedonov on five points, which were also accepted by the Armenian leadership.
“And if we talk about the five points proposed by Azerbaijan in March last year, then this is more likely not a settlement plan, but the conditions of surrender,” the Russian pundit believes.
In the meanwhile, here are those points Azerbaijan submitted to Armenia for signing a peace deal.
- mutual recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of international borders, and political independence of each other;
- mutual confirmation of the absence of territorial claims of states against each other and a legal obligation not to make such claims in the future;
- refrain from threatening each other's security in interstate relations, from using threats and force against political independence and territorial integrity, as well as from other circumstances incompatible with the purposes of the UN Charter;
- delimitation and demarcation of the state border, the establishment of diplomatic relations;
- the opening of transport and communications, the establishment of other relevant communications, and cooperation in other areas of mutual interest.
And where did the Russian political expert see "surrender" in these conditions?!
Moreover, the Russian political expert proposes a model that has no way of implementing in the foreseeable future.
“The agreement should follow the opening of transport communications, delimitation, and demarcation, where Moscow, from its point of view, has the necessary tools for assistance, maps, etc.,” the political expert believes.
The construction and opening of transport links, delimitation, and demarcation - these all require a huge amount of time. And that all this time the issue of a peace treaty should be in limbo and with periodic military conflicts between the parties.
The whole problem lies in the unwillingness to find a formula of peace for the two peoples, and how not to be ousted from the South Caucasus. For some reason, these political experts are trying to resolve issues using the old methods rejected by the modern community.
Isn't the growing progressive relationship between Russia and Azerbaijan an excellent example of Russia's presence in the South Caucasus? Why is it necessary to be friends with a rifle in hand?! Isn't the Moscow Declaration of February 22, 2022, an important guarantee of long-term cooperation between the two countries? Does Azerbaijan's outstretched hand to Russia in the face of tough sanctions not evidence of a desire to further develop comprehensive relations between Azerbaijan and Russia?
Karabakh is a sensitive place for the Azerbaijani people. It is necessary to understand and build relationships, remembering this and the national slogan “Karabakh is Azerbaijan”.
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