Nagorno-Karabakh: little hope of peace

The battlelines in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, to which both Azerbaijan and Armenia lay claim and which has been the scene of heavy fighting in the last two weeks, seem clear: while Baku can count on Ankara's support, Yerevan hopes Moscow will step in to defend it. Commentators point to several reasons why a peaceful solution is currently not in the cards.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

There are no mediators left

There is no one to mediate in the conflict today, La Repubblica laments:

“In the past, such a conflict would have been frozen by the logic of the blocs or, more recently, by American supremacy. In today's world, where nobody has absolute control, there is the risk of this becoming another proxy war. ... It's clear that mediation is necessary. But it can't come from the OSCE, which would formally be entitled to such a role. The OSCE is crippled by the unanimity rule for its decisions. The European Union, which is in danger of losing everything because of the instability on its borders, tried to do something about the situation but has not got much further than calling for an end to the violence.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Minsk Group lets Yerevan do as it pleases

Armenia's lobby is so firmly established in the Minsk Group that a peaceful solution is out of the question, Daily Sabah believes:

“Armenia has not been held responsible for its aggressive, expansionist and unilateral policies to date. Global powers and the international community have remained silent on the issue of the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories. The Minsk Group, consisting of three states that host the strongest Armenian lobbies, namely the U.S., Russia and France, have not taken steps to remedy the problem over three decades. Ultimately, there is no expectation that the Minsk Group will provide a peaceful solution.”

Ukrayinska Pravda (UA) /

Don't let Baku call the shots

Thomas Barrett of Bryusov University in Yerevan explains in Ukrayinska Pravda why the world should show solidarity with the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh:

“The country claiming sovereignty over the region, Azerbaijan, is a cruel authoritarian state that systematically violates human rights. It is a one-party state which oppresses the entire opposition and violates the social and economic rights of the population through the systematic plundering of natural resources. A small ruling elite lines its pockets through this. ... Azerbaijan has not offered a solution to the Karabakh conflict which would guarantee the rights of ethnic Armenians within the framework of the Azerbaijani state.”

Postimees (EE) /

This highlights the West's weakness

The war in Nagorno-Karabakh is proof that Western influence in the region no longer exists, writes security policy expert Edward Lucas in Postimees:

“The big loser is the West. It is losing influence over the Black Sea, the Caucasus and in Central Asia - in regions that 15 years ago seemed to be becoming diplomatic and economic pioneers that built gas and oil pipelines, trained elites, promoted civil society and designed a new security architecture. ... The last bastion of Western influence is Georgia, where democracy is already suffering and the economy is starting to fall apart. Russia is demanding a corridor through Georgia to provide military and 'humanitarian' aid to Armenia. Tbilisi will hardly be able to resist without external help. If it gives in, the weakness and isolation will become apparent.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Azerbaijan is Turkey

Turkey will do everything in its power to support Azerbaijan, and then Armenia won't stand a chance, Hürriyet Daily News predicts:

“If Azerbaijan needs Turkish support, it will have it unconditionally because Azerbaijan is Turkey, Turkey is Azerbaijan. Hopefully, without turning into a full-fledged war, the current situation will be replaced with a ceasefire primarily and a renewed negotiations process, the precondition of which ought to be the unconditional return of the five Azerbaijani regions around the Nagorno-Karabagh district. Otherwise, today’s Azerbaijan is capable of liberating its entire occupied territory with its military might, and if needed, with Turkey’s unconditional support.”

HuffPost Greece (GR) /

Ankara will strengthen its position in the region

HuffPost Greece sees three potential scenarios in the conflict:

“Firstly, if Armenia wins again, Ankara will have to support Azerbaijan more actively. ... At the same time, Moscow stepping in to defend Yerevan is crucial for the continuation of Armenia's pro-Russian policy. Ankara would thus enter into a direct confrontation with Moscow. ... Secondly, if Azerbaijan wins, Russia will intervene for the very reasons we have just mentioned. Then, too, Turkey will face the dilemma of having to intervene against Russia. ... Thirdly, if the conflict doesn't change the status quo, Baku will feel defeated and therefore Ankara will feel defeated as well. ... The most likely scenario is that Turkey will maintain its military presence in Azerbaijan after the crisis in order to further strengthen its position.”

The Times (GB) /

Nato partners must rein in Erdoğan

The Nato partners must not let the Turkish president go on playing his power games in the region, The Times warns:

“Peace efforts are not helped by the disengagement of the United States. This apparent withdrawal has emboldened Azerbaijan to mount a military offensive. It has also encouraged Mr Erdogan to up the ante in his nationalist rhetoric. This is a threat to the region and Nato has a crucial role in restraining its ally in Ankara. ... If the West shows a lack of interest in the region, then Mr Erdogan will see his chance for self-aggrandisement and incendiary actions. In the interests of peace and stability at a time of international crisis, these must be reined in.”

nv.ua (UA) /

Yerevan's powerful supporter in L.A.

The Armenians' most important ally is US celebrity Kim Kardashian, journalist Ivan Yakovina comments on nv.ua:

“The ultra-popular actor, blogger and businesswoman from Los Angeles has already mobilised her army of 250 million subscribers on various social networks to protect Armenia. Among other things, she has urged her fans to call their senators and representatives in order to put pressure on Turkey and Azerbaijan. She is also asking her subscribers every day to send a petition to defend Armenia to Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump. In the runup to the election of the US President, the Senate and the entire House of Representatives, Kim's 250 million subscribers are a force to be taken very seriously.”

Duma (BG) /

International law is of no help here

The international community is out of its depth with the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Duma comments:

“The Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, which has flared up again, has awakened the international community from its political sleep. ... But it is unlikely even now that it will find a way to solve the conflict once and for all. ... The main reason is that both parties to the war are simultaneously guilty and justified. ... The international community feels powerless because international law does not state what prevails: the right to self-determination or the inviolability of state borders.”

Pravda (SK) /

Stalin's disastrous reorganisation

Only Moscow can defuse the powder keg, Pravda concludes:

“For President Ilham Aliyev in Baku, Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, as is allegedly confirmed by its thousand-year history. He forgets that the area belonged to independent Armenia after the First World War and that at the time 95 percent of the population were Armenians. Then, under Stalin, it was made part of Azerbaijan. ... In the following decades the people in Nagorno-Karabakh suffered massive discrimination. The conflict, which finally reached its climax in 1988, was preceded by several pogroms against the Armenians. Now only Russia can stop the two conflicting parties. However there's no telling how Moscow will react if things really heat up in the South Caucasus.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Hope for help from Brussels, count on Putin's aid

Antonia Arslan, an Italian writer of Armenian origin, fears in La Stampa that Europe will leave Armenia in the lurch:

“In this local conflict, a second element plays a key role: the neo-Ottoman ambitions of the Turkish president, who is exploiting the ethnic-cultural affinity between Turks and Azerbaijanis to further expand his geopolitical influence. It would be nice to hear the voice of Europe on this. But I fear that this time too, its response will be timid: who on the old continent wants to die for Nagorno-Karabakh? Nobody wanted to die for Gdansk in 1939, let alone for Stepanakert today ... We Armenians are alone. At the moment the only power that really puts up resistance against Turkey is Russia. So while we hope with our hearts for help from Brussels, we know with our heads that at most it is Putin's help we can count on.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Moscow focused on the wrong goals

Radio Kommersant FM criticises that the Kremlin is focusing on the wrong areas in foreign policy:

“It looks like Macron, Trump and Merkel will have to step in to reconcile the Armenians and Azerbaijanis. We have been fighting for this for five years in Syria, we are involved in Libya and support Maduro in Venezuela. One can even sense a certain irritated bitterness towards Yerevan and Baku: they have become too independent lately - so let them look after themselves now. That is not a good position. The Kremlin should at least come up with a proposal - perhaps a Karabakh conference should be convened. Lengthy negotiations are still better than war.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Elites in both countries benefitting

Without major changes on both sides a solution to the conflict will hardly be possible, explains the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“The societies of both countries are permeated by more than thirty years of conflict. The Armenians see their successes in the war between 1991 and 1994 as proof that they are no longer the defenceless victims they were during the genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. In Azerbaijan, several hundred thousand displaced persons from the Armenian-occupied territories around Karabakh are keeping the desire for revenge alive. Corrupt elites on both sides fuel these feelings: the need for national unity in the face of the enemy serves as their legitimation.”

Vzglyad (RU) /

Baku merely furthering Turkey's ambitions

The pro-Kremlin Internet newspaper Vzglyad sees the Turkish government as the real mastermind of the conflict:

“On a Sunday morning, Turkish journalists with 'Press' on their helmets drive peacefully through the Caucasus and are suddenly attacked. And that's how it reads on the news tickers. ... As a result, the first information salvoes to reach the West reflect the Turkish position. Because there are no other images or interpretations. In fact this is how things are: there is no Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict but a conflict between Turkey/Azerbaijan and Armenia. And Azerbaijan occupies a subordinate position: in fact, it is merely cannon fodder for the Turkish leadership's aspirations to regional dominance.”

Magyar Hang (HU) /

Corona fuelling enmity

The coronavirus crisis is also helping to worsen the conflict, Magyar Hang believes:

“Due to the worsening economic situation, internal tensions have increased in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. In such a situation it is obvious - especially on the Armenian side - that the Karabakh question should be highlighted so that it attracts attention. Nikol Pashinyan is also the first head of government who does not come from Nagorno-Karabakh, which is why he must redouble his efforts to prove that he won't allow himself to be blackmailed by Baku. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, which has long been preparing to take revenge, could well consider the current uncertain international situation propitious for an attack.”

LB.ua (UA) /

Armenians in a weaker position

Armenia has no allies in this conflict, journalist Alexandr Demchenko analyses in lb.ua:

“For Washington, Yerevan is of no importance in the run-up to the presidential elections. ... And Moscow is also unhappy. ... The Pashinyan government has made mistakes that Moscow will not forgive. ... The Armenian prime minister asked the Kremlin to apply the CSTO treaty [and support Armenia militarily], stand against Baku and side with Yerevan. When Russia refused, Pashinyan simply put the CSTO's secretary-general, [Yuri] Khatchaturov, in prison. ... And a few days ago, the prime minister's biggest opponent, the millionaire Gagik Zarukian, a clearly pro-Russian politician, was arrested.”