Ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh: what comes next?
The conflicting parties in Nagorno-Karabakh have agreed on a ceasefire and the resumption of peace talks. This was announced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday after a meeting with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan. But despite the agreement, attacks continued over the weekend. For this and other reasons commentators doubt that the talks will be productive.
Baku only pretending it wants peace
The agreement was unviable from the start, Radio Kommersant FM observes:
“In comparison with Donbass, the ceasefire violations are taking on huge proportions. One gets the impression that - at least on one side - there was never any intention to stick to the Moscow Agreement. This reveals a logic that shouldn't really come as a surprise: as initiator of the fighting on September 27, Azerbaijan still believes it will be able to push through its plans for victory - on a local level, yes, but permanently and undisputed. And only then will it be willing to enter into peace negotiations from a more favourable position, with conquered cities and regions to show.”
Nato cannot accept this
The North Atlantic Alliance must take a clear stance after Turkey's deployment of mercenaries, Politiken demands:
“Turkey is sending Syrian soldiers to Libya and Azerbaijan, and it's astounding that the Erdoğan government is claiming to be innocent. But let us not be fooled. The fact is that Turkey is hiring mercenaries and sending them into conflicts that are not theirs. Of course the United Nations must condemn this. And NATO must clearly and forcefully criticise the fact that a member state is hiring its own and foreign mercenaries to wage war outside the territory of the Alliance. It's scandalous.”
No stalemate, no support, no political will
Trud lists factors that would normally increase the chances of the peace talks being successful. Second, the scope for an agreement. Third, broad support in the countries concerned among both the local population and the diaspora living abroad. Fourth, favourable geopolitical circumstances and the general agreement of the major powers on the need to find a solution to the conflict. Fifth, political will and strong leadership on both sides. None of these factors exist in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at present.
Energy blockade would hardly affect Europe
In El País, Gonzalo Escribano, an energy expert from the Spanish Elcano Institute, analyses the potential repercussions of the conflict for energy policy:
“Because of the European climate change mitigation targets, the EU needs fewer and fewer gas imports and less and less of the associated, often exaggerated infrastructure. Therefore, everything points to the geopolitical relevance of the southern gas corridor diminishing, and that the hopes that the failed Nabucco pipeline project will be rescued with the Trans-Caspian pipeline not being fulfilled. It is therefore likely that the impact of a potential blockade of the Caucasus pipeline on European energy security will be limited. However, a prolongation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan could jeopardize the supply of petroleum via the Caspian Sea, particularly for countries such as Turkey, Israel and Italy.”
Once again, Putin is the winner
With or without a ceasefire, Moscow has the region under its control, Habertürk comments:
“It now looks as if Putin and the cunning politician Lavrov have taken on the role of mediating a temporary ceasefire between the parties. But basically Moscow is once again reaping the greatest benefits from the break in the ceasefire. For Putin can use the chaos as an excuse to send his troops to the region once more, or he can deepen the chaos to create a basis for the proclamation of an independent Nagorno-Karabakh. In particular the fact that the area is located in the heart of the South Caucasus, where the main energy routes of the region intersect, makes it an important centre.”
Armenia belongs in the EU!
The West should be more resolute in its support for the Armenians, historian Jean-François Colosimo urges in Le Figaro:
“Of all Western leaders, President Macron is the only one to strongly denounce Erdoğan's race towards the abyss. We must not forget that the Armenians have always been culturally European, and that they are even more so today due to the blood they are shedding to put an end to barbarism. So let us dare to make a wish: should the French head of state not urgently call on his partners in Brussels to allow Armenia to join the EU? This would not promote a utopia, but send a signal. And it would finally prove that democracy can win out against war - provided it is willing to tell the truth.”
Armenia has no say in the negotiations
The ceasefire has significant flaws, analyst Radu Carp comments in Adevărul:
“The problem is that this ceasefire does not provide for a withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops and Islamic terrorist groups from Nagorno-Karabakh. Obtaining that approval from Azerbaijan and Turkey will be extremely difficult for the Minsk Group. ... This aspect will likely be discussed directly between Putin and Erdoğan, as part of a dialogue on several problems that concern both countries. Aliyev, Erdoğan and Putin get on very well with each other; they all share the traits of the authoritarian leader. Armenia cannot take part in these talks about its fate because it is a democracy. ... It can only rely on its traditional relations with Russia and France - and on the persuasiveness of its diaspora.”
Back to a frozen conflict
The next phase will bring a poker game that is likely to drag on and on, Radio Kommersant FM believes:
“The practical thing about a ceasefire is that you can extend it forever - or in other words: it can bring the conflict back to a frozen state. It also offers both sides an opportunity to announce victory and then try to negotiate the best conditions for themselves in the upcoming talks. In principle, this is already happening. Aliyev has said that his army had achieved unprecedented successes, that the old front line no longer existed but a military solution did. At the same time, however, it's clear that it will hardly be possible to occupy the whole of Karabakh and drive out the Armenians.”
Moscow weaker than it pretends to be
The conflict exposes Russia's powerlessness, says Toon Beemsterboer, Turkey correspondent for NRC Handelsblad:
“Turkish intervention threatens Russia's position of power in the region. Putin must do something to maintain his influence. But he doesn't have many options ... The speed with which the ceasefire is breaking down shows that Russia's position in the region is weaker than Moscow pretends it is. Russia may be a formal ally of Armenia - but it also has equally good relations with Azerbaijan, with whom it has concluded lucrative arms deals. ... Moreover, Russia's divide and rule strategy in the region is not exactly conducive to inspiring confidence in Moscow as a mediator.”