Conflict flares up again in Nagorno-Karabakh

The conflict that has been smouldering between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis since the start of the 1990s flared up again at the beginning of April. Commentators have various explanations for the escalation.

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Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

Kremlin securing its influence in the Caucasus

Who has really benefited from the resurgence of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh? the daily Latvijas avīze asks:

“No doubt above all the leaders of the two conflicting countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan, which in this short time have been able to demonstrate their determination and patriotism by leading their countries into a 'just war'. In any case, there are plenty of volunteers in Yerevan eager to take part in defending their country, and the same goes for Baku. After all, everyone knows that with an ailing economy and many dissatisfied citizens a small war is the best solution. ... And the Kremlin has benefited not only from weapons sales but also from enduring control over Baku and Yerevan. Because tensions between these countries, where hot coals can quickly flare into an open fire, allow it to maintain its influence not only over both countries but also play a decisive role in the entire Caucasus.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Fighting as diversionary tactic

The national-conservative daily Neatkarīgā sees the recent fighting in Nagorno-Karabach as an attempt by Azerbaijan and Armenia to divert attention from their precarious economic situation:

“The conflict has ethnic and religious roots that reach back more than a century, but the fact that it has flared up again now has to do with the disastrous economic situation in both countries. Living standards there have plunged in recent years, particularly in Azerbaijan, which experienced a boom when the oil prices were high. But now that oil prices have sunk dramatically the country is in serious problems. Governments have always had a lifebuoy they use in such situations to divert the citizens' attention from economic problems: a quick little war.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Moscow does not want a proxy war

It is unlikely that Russia is ready for a proxy war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger believes:

“Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov has tried repeatedly in recent years to advance the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh, and suggested the stationing of Russian peacekeeping troops in the region. Some Western observers fear that this is an attempt by Russia to extend its power over an area that it sees as part of its ancestral sphere of influence. But over and above its engagement in Syria, the border conflict with Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, Russia can hardly afford yet another trouble spot. So the skirmishes of the past days can most likely be put down to two arch-enemies once again wanting to measure their strength against each other. In that way both can divert attention from domestic problems.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Nothing but propaganda from the crisis region

Azerbaijan and Armenia reported more fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Monday, which they say left 13 people dead. We should bear in mind that the news from the region is coming from the parties involved in the conflict and is therefore not reliable, writes journalist Mircea Barbu in his blog with the liberal-conservative newspaper Adevărul:

“As long as we keep gobbling up the pictures and reports about the 'war in Nagorno-Karabakh' and as long as the information doesn't come from independent sources we are doing nothing but perpetuating the propaganda campaigns of the two regimes. … Meanwhile thousands of Azerbaijanis and Armenians are being armed and sent to the battlefront regardless of whether they understand what is going on or not. Their stories and those of the civilians living on the little strip of land between the two countries are overshadowed by the propaganda coming from Armenia and Azerbaijan, undocumented and well hidden.”

România Liberă (RO) /

Clashing geopolitical interests

The newly inflamed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is part of a geopolitical game in which the US is also involved, the conservative daily România Liberă comments:

“The skirmishes could be a signal from Turkey in reaction to Russian intervention in Syria, and above all a warning to Russia that it should not interfere in the Kurdish question. And the US is also playing a role: Azerbaijan started the conflict after its president visited the US. Some experts believe that Washington is trying to force Putin to be more reserved in the Syria and Ukraine conflicts. ... The US wants to prevent the latter conflict from freezing once again, as otherwise it could be used as a bargaining chip at any time. Russia, on the other hand, wants just that. For the time being it has more serious problems and has no interest in a war in this area. But for how long? What is certain is that a war would be a total disaster for Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Danger of a Russian-Turkish conflict

Moscow's and Ankara's interests may clash directly in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh because Armenia is considered a Russian protégé and Azerbaijan an ally of Turkey, the left-leaning daily taz comments:

“Azerbaijan has long since caught up with its arch-enemy Armenia in terms of military power. And it has a new ally that may also back it militarily: Turkey. The Armenian border is protected by Russian border troops. This means that in the event of a new war over Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian and Turkish soldiers could end up on opposite sides. The international community must condemn the occupation by Armenia of several Azerbaijani regions. At the same time it must make it clear to Azerbaijan that it has no right to trigger a new war in this explosive region.”