Armenia and Azerbaijan: how dangerous is the conflict?

Since mid-July the border region between Armenia and Azerbaijan has seen the most fierce armed confrontations between the two nations since 2016, with more than a dozen casualties. The "frozen" conflict over the Armenian-populated and controlled Nagorno-Karabakh area in Azerbaijan has threatened to turn into a full-blown war for 30 years, but the current skirmishes are outside this region.

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Hatred nurtured across generations

After violent clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis also occurred in Moscow, Radio Kommersant FM focuses on education in the two ethnic groups:

“The national discourse in both countries is based on the opposition between them. Even small children are shown how bad their neighbours are, and with this in mind they become parents, teachers or politicians. This endless flood of hate propaganda means that even changes of power do not provide a way out. As the example of [Armenian] Prime Minister Pashinyan shows, new leaders may have different views on the economy and social policy, but on the main issue everyone agrees. Trying to resolve the conflict could cost them their career or even their lives. By contrast belligerent rhetoric easily solves any internal problem, be it coronavirus or the collapse in oil prices.”

RBC Ukraine (UA) /

Conflicts cannot be frozen

Writing off the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a "frozen conflict" without working on the question of the region' status is not a solution, warns correspondent Marianna Prysiazhniuk on RBC Ukraine:

“The key stumbling block is that the international community wants to determine the status of Nagorno-Karabakh in a referendum after demilitarisation. … Despite attempts by the international community's representatives in the Minsk group to push through a 'bad peace' rather than a 'good war', the fragility of the situation is exacerbated by many uncertainties. Nagorno-Karabakh is a telling example of how 'frozen conflicts' are a myth. And if diplomacy hides that, sooner or later guns will speak in its place.”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

Carefully managed hostilities better than a real war

Echo of Moskow also doesn't believe the conflict will escalate:

“Baku suspects Yerevan of wanting to provoke interference from the Collective Security Treaty Organization. After all, Armenia is a member of this Russian-led military alliance, and according to the Organisation's statues an attack against one member is considered an attack on all. ... That said, at present neither side seems keen to go to war. Nobody wants to fight. They're all realists, because the conflict which has been frozen for decades is beneficial to everyone. You can rattle the saber forever, threatening the enemy with destruction while clinging to power. But to do that you have to wield it carefully.”

Ukrayinska Pravda (UA) /

Diversionary tactics in the coronavirus crisis

The current disputes suit the rulers of both sides, Ukrayinska Pravda notes:

“Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are suffering from the repercussions of the coronavirus, and they both need something to distract the public from the crisis. Shifting attention away from business and healthcare towards security is mutually beneficial. This, in turn, gives hope that the escalation at the border will not develop into a full-blown conflict, or at least that that is not what the Azerbaijani rulers intend.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Armenia must relinquish Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia in particular must make concessions for the conflict to be resolved, Hürriyet Daily News is convinced:

“It might be difficult to accept, but if a diplomatic way out from the continued occupation of Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabagh and surrounding regions by Armenia is not found sooner or later, the two countries might indulge in a full-fledged war. Obviously, Azerbaijan cannot be expected to remain idle to continued occupation of its territory by an Armenia spoiled by both the West and the Russians. ... Azerbaijan declared at many occasions over the past years that although it would not accept any territorial concession in Nagorno-Karabagh it was ready to grant the region advanced autonomy.”