суббота, 14 мая 2016 г.

A Modest Proposal for Nagorno-Karabakh

Share A Modest Proposal for Nagorno-Karabakh Analysis May 14, 2016 | 13:41 GMT



Sometimes resolution comes not from a single convention but in installments. Such may be the case for Nagorno-Karabakh. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are set to meet with the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States and France in Vienna on May 16. While important, this is not the type of meeting expected to achieve great accomplishments in the longer-term future of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As part of the peace negotiations held by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, the meeting will cater more toward addressing immediate tactical concerns in Nagorno-Karabakh. For any meeting to lead to notable outcomes in the grand scheme of the dispute in the region, it would have had to include the most prominent of decision-makers, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The purpose of the meeting is to reinforce the cease-fire regime that followed April's fighting, the worst in decades in Nagorno-Karabakh. The governments in Armenia and Azerbaijan have apparently slipped back into a tense standoff, and neither side seems to be budging in the peace process. However, pressure will likely come to bear at the meeting for the adoption of a U.S. initiative to install special equipment to register violations at the line of contact in Karabakh. Long before the most recent outbreak of fighting, exchanges of artillery and mortar fire between Azerbaijani forces and those from Nagorno-Karabakh had been a regular occurrence at the line. Installing the monitoring equipment not only would be a step toward avoiding a resumption of intense fighting, but it would also discourage the artillery duels.
Armenia and Karabakh have been open to the idea. Russia, too, has been receptive, even suggesting that Germany, the current OSCE chair, be in charge of installing the equipment. Azerbaijan, though, has flatly rejected it. The country has reason to be more reluctant to the concept; it is the only party at the table overtly involved in the contact-line skirmishes. While Nagorno-Karabakh is heavily dependent on Armenia for its disputed status, the forces on the contact line are technically not Armenian. From this perspective, Azerbaijan sees the monitoring system idea as an attempt by Armenia and its ally, Russia, to impose upon it. Azerbaijan would, of course, prefer not to have a system in place that puts more potential liability on it than on the other parties in the conflict.
Moscow, on the other hand, with its overture to Germany and its leadership in talks with both Armenia and Azerbaijan in the past month, is looking increasingly conciliatory toward the West over the disputed territory. Russia is possibly looking to somehow preserve the role of the West in the process, while Moscow attempts to play grand mediator among all sides. But any grand bargain facilitated by Moscow would require extracting concessions from Azerbaijan while also figuring out how to pacify Armenia into accepting a deal. Neither prospect seems currently possible. So Moscow instead will likely try to show the West that it can keep the peace, at least for now.

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