By Sara Rajabova
The former U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group has warned that “recognition” of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia will suspend the Minsk process on the settlement of the long-lasting Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
“Armenia realizes that if it recognized the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Minsk Group process would be finished and there would be no chance for a negotiated settlement,” said Matthew Bryza, the former deputy assistant of the U.S. secretary of state for South Caucasus, ex-U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan and director of International Centre for Defense Studies in Tallinn, in an interview with Trend.
Bryza was commenting on Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian’s parliamentary speech claiming that in case of military action, Armenia would be the “guarantor of security” for Nagorno-Karabakh, which would include “recognition”.
“In this situation, Armenia would face a serious risk of war with Azerbaijan, which it does not want,” Bryza said.
He noted that Armenia’s biggest concern is the security of the citizens of Armenia and the Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“I don’t think that Armenia wants to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh or it would have done so already,” Bryza said.
Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup of 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly 1 million were displaced as a result of the war.
Large-scale hostilities ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire in 1994 but Armenia continued the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal. Peace talks mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. have produced no results so far.
He considered that the biggest power in the region – Russia – does not want a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan either.
“Russia wants exactly what is happening now, no peace no war. This status allows Russia to manipulate the situation. So, the only country benefiting from the current situation is Russia. Armenia is not benefiting because it doesn’t want the resumption of armed hostilities, Azerbaijan is not benefiting either, because it wants a negotiated settlement,” Bryza said.
Nalbandian’s statement is a diplomatic gesture within the context of the broader negotiations process, he added.
“The threat to use military force is a diplomatic tool that aims to achieve certain political objectives, albeit a fierce tool and usually one of last resort. We all know that military theorist Carl von Clausewitz said war is the continuation of politics by other means, which means that diplomacy and military force are tied together,” Bryza said.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry stated that in continuing to grossly violate the generally accepted norms and principles of international law and the requirements of the UN Security Council resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia implements a policy of maintaining the status quo based on occupation and aggression.