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Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, still alive and dangerous

15 August 2014 13:00 (UTC+04:00)
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, still alive and dangerous

By Sara Rajabova

The recent escalation of tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan showed that unlike what some politicians and experts say, the Nagorno-Karabakh is not frozen.

The aggravation of situation on the contact line of Armenian-Azerbaijani troops proved that any minor incident can lead to a large-scale war between the two sides.

"The recent tragic events clearly underline the fact that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is still alive and dangerous," expert of the Center for European Policy in Brussels, Amanda Pol said in an interview with Day.Az website.

She voiced concern that the international community failed to recognize the seriousness of the situation and the broader implications of a possible new war for the region. "It also shows that after two decades, we are facing almost unprecedented levels of animosity, distrust and frustration. We are at the cliff edge and there is an increasing chance of the conflict being tipped over into a fully blown war," Pol said.

She noted that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has never been a frozen conflict, adding it is an active conflict and unfortunately claims many lives each year.

Pol went on to say that the international community is well aware that this conflict is not frozen yet, however, there is a problem with mustering the necessary political will to change the current format for resolving it.

Furthermore, she expressed dissatisfaction with OSCE Minsk group's role in the conflict resolution, noting that the group needs new ideas.

Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles. However, the negotiations have been largely fruitless so far.

"Everybody is comfortable with the OSCE Minsk Group. But to a certain degree, the group acts as a perfect fig leaf to cover-up the lack of will to do more. I am not saying that the Minsk Group is to be blamed for the current deadlock but at the same time as a format for supporting the solution of the conflict it has become stale and jaded. Over the years, its role has expanded as a conflict manger rather than a conflict resolver. It needs to be shaken up and broadened with new blood and ideas," Pol said.

She went on to say that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict needs serious attention from the West's highest political level.

More than twenty years 20 percent of Azerbaijan's lands remain under occupation; hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and refugees cannot plan for the future.

Pol said the current situation is not sustainable and one day it would get out of control unless more measures are taken to bring about a solution.

Tensions along the frontline were aggravated as Armenian armed forces attacked Azerbaijani positions. Armenia began to escalate tensions on the border areas on July 31. Sporadic fighting has continued ever since. Fourteen Azerbaijani servicemen were killed and several others injured during the clashes between two sides. Armenia hasn't released yet the exact number of casualties.

The sudden outbreak of skirmishes sparked public concerns about the possibility of launching a new war in the region.

Pol said she does not believe that either Azerbaijan or Armenia want to engage in a new war.

She stressed that so far, they have been able to prevent military clashes from spiraling into a fully blown conflict, however, "this new incident shows that tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia are red-hot, with frustration and anger sky-rocketing."

"There is an ongoing risk that they will be eventually no longer able to "contain" these sporadic clashes and a new war will kick-off. Nobody should underestimate what the outcome of a new conflict would mean in terms of loss of life and its implications for the region. It would almost certainly drag in - one way or another - the three big neighbors, Russia, Iran and Turkey, possibly spill over into the North Caucasus which is already a hot bed of problems and endanger infrastructure including important energy pipelines," Pol said.

She noted that the international community needs to step up its efforts to help bring an end to this conflict.

Pol further noted that the only way to stop the violence is to hammer out a deal as soon as possible.

She said as in the case with other regional conflicts, there is a need to make it clear that the ongoing occupation is unacceptable; because it only aggravate the tensions.

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