The International Crises Group have published a report on Nagorno-Karabakh, where they warn Azerbaijan and Armenia to “halt their dangerous arms race and restrain their belligerent rhetoric and instead renew efforts to find a negotiated settlement for the Nagorno-Karabakh region”.
While I have serious reservations as to on what authority does this international NGO find it suitable to come in with its advice on a tangled issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, especially as from the media release referenced above one get’s the opinion, that it is a pure territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the issue of self-determination by the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians has nothing to do here, demonstrating either a deliberately anti-Armenian position by the ICG or else – a gross misunderstanding of the situation. However, there are some valid points that are made in the report:
Oil money has given Azerbaijan new self-confidence and the means to upgrade its armed forces. It seems to want to postpone any peace deal until the military balance has shifted decisively in its favour. Yerevan, which itself has done surprisingly well economically, has also become more intransigent and increased its own military expenditures. It believes that time is on its side, that Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto independence will become a reality increasingly difficult to ignore. Playing for time is dangerous for all concerned, however. The riskiest period could be around 2012, when Azerbaijan’s oil money is likely to begin to dwindle, and a military adventure might seem a tempting way to distract citizens from economic crisis. Important oil and gas pipelines near Nagorno-Karabakh would likely be among the first casualties of a new war, something Europe and the U.S. in particular have an interest in avoiding.