Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Qarabagh Ceasefire Holding but Baku and Yerevan aren’t Taking Steps Needed for Peace, Tarasov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 14 – Four months after the November declaration that ended the recent round of fighting between Armenians and Azerbaijanis and created a new geopolitical situation in the Caucasus, the ceasefire is holding; but neither Baku nor Yerevan is taking the steps necessary to open the way for peace, Nikolay Tarasov says.

            The working groups created by the follow on summit of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are meeting, but they are not going as well as many had hoped because political leaders in Baku and Yerevan are making declarations that get in the way of real progress, the Regnum news agency commentator says (regnum.ru/news/polit/3214012.html).

            Baku has been talking about the Zengezur corridor as being part of historical Azerbaijan, something Armenians are not prepared to accept, and Yerevan has been talking about the establishment of a special status for Nagorno-Karabakh (Qarabagh), something Baku rejects and that Moscow has warned is too controversial to discuss anytime soon.

            Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s “playing on ‘the Nakhichevan guitar’ has the effect of confusing the entire geopolitical orchestra,” Tarasov continues, while Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan’s call for a special status for the Armenian community in Qarabagh threatens to bring the talks to a standstill.

            It is obvious, the Russian commentator says, that “the transition from war to peaceful coexistence always and everywhere is a complicated process. For the conflicting sides to shift to constructive cooperation, it is necessary to move from the psychological state of confrontation.” That has not yet happened in the South Caucasus.

            Azerbaijan “must understand” that it needs to end its “former information war” against Armenians and seek “dialogue with Yerevan;” and Armenia must do the same, recognizing that its own domestic crisis makes such a shift especially important if at the same time particularly difficult.

            That the ceasefire has held for four months is a real achievement, but unless Baku and Yerevan focus on their domestic challenges – and the Azerbaijani authorities have just as much to do in restoring the formerly occupied territories and the Armenian ones do in overcoming domestic conflicts – a real peace with its rewards remains a long way off.

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