Intensified Karabakh clashes risk escalation

Atlas of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) from Wikipedia

Intensified skirmishes between Azerbaijan’s armed forces and Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army pose a serous risk of spilling into a full-scale armed conflict, as nationalists in Azerbaijan exploit the Karabakh issue for political gains ahead of parliamentary elections.

There have been more breaches of cease-fire and killings of Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers in border clashes this year, than ever before. Four Azeri soldiers were killed last week in a skirmish, following an earlier attack which left 4 Armenians and 1 Azeri soldier dead.

Military officials on either side of the border report daily breaches of cease-fire.

Worsening of the situation led Peter Semneby, the EU’s envoy to the South Caucasus, to call for strengthening ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenian-backed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, possibly with the deployment of more international observers.

“I think that both sides are very much aware of the risks and costs of an escalation … but there’s always the risk that something can go out of hand,” Semneby told Reuters late on Tuesday in Tbilisi after a trip to Azerbaijan.

Low intensity skirmishes have killed around 3,000 people, mainly soldiers, since 1994, but observers say clashes have become more frequent and intense since early 2008, and escalated sharply this summer.

“Azeri youth seek military solution”

Baku based political analyst Ilgar Mammadov

Baku-based political analyst Ilgar Mammadov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Thursday, that political forces are going to exploit the Karabakh issue for political gain ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled in November.

The analyst noted a “serious change” over the past five years, as people have started to pay more attention to the Karabakh issue.

“Besides, a new generation, representatives of youth have come to the political arena. They are a serious factor of political pressure” Mammadov said.

According to the analyst, most of the young people in Azerbaijan are  convinced, that the peace talks have led to a standstill.

“They are sure, that the issue can only have a military solution. This tension is growing in the society and will continue to build up,” Ilgar Mammadov warned.

Military bid DISASTROUS

Nagorno-Karabakh - Nagorno-Karabakh army in training, archive.

Armenian-backed forces have held Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding Azeri districts forming a land corridor with Armenia since the ceasefire was declared in 1994. An estimated 30,000 people were killed and more than a million displaced, as ethnic Armenian Christians, backed by Armenia, threw off rule by Muslim Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed two decades ago.

Years of OSCE mediation led by French, Russian and American envoys have failed to produce a peace deal and Azerbaijan — spending heavily on its military with revenues from oil sales — frequently threatens to take the region back by force.

Military analysts warn that an Azeri military bid to retake the territory could be disastrous, with Nagorno-Karabakh heavily fortified since the war and holding the high ground.


6 thoughts on “Intensified Karabakh clashes risk escalation

  1. Pingback: Intensified Karabakh clashes risk escalation | Armenian Daily e-Magazine

  2. While the Azeris only see one side of the problem, which is their lost territories, they are forgetting that they lost the war also. And even though I am opposed to military solution of this conflict, but I think that Armenian Army should be well trained and prepared, in order to show the might of our will and the power of our patriotism.

  3. Minsk Group co-chairs issue statement

    YEREVAN, 9 September 2010 – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, Bernard Fassier of France, and Robert Bradtke of the United States, released the following statement today:
    The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs (Ambassador Bernard Fassier of France; Ambassador Robert Bradtke of the United States; Ambassador Igor Popov of the Russian Federation) travelled to Baku, Yerevan, and Nagorno-Karabakh September 6-9.

    On September 8, with the facilitation of the Permanent Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk and the military authorities of all sides, the Co-Chairs crossed the Line of Contact (LoC) on foot, en route to Stepanakert/Khankhendi, to highlight that the LoC is not to become a permanent barrier between neighboring peoples and to demonstrate to all parties that the ceasefire of 1994 must be strictly respected. This marked the first time the mediators have crossed the LoC since November 2001.

    In their meetings with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on September 7, with Armenian President President Serzh Sargsian on September 9, and with the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 8, the Co-Chairs presented their work plan for the months ahead, as described in their press statement of September 6. They stressed that a more constructive approach by all sides will be needed to be able to implement their plan and to make progress in the months leading up to the OSCE Summit.

    The Co-Chairs held discussions with all parties regarding the previously agreed Field Assessment Mission to the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, which they will conduct between late September and mid-October. They presented the elements of their mission, and they will finalize their preparations for the mission in the nearest future.

    The Co-Chairs again strongly urged all parties to respect the cease-fire and exercise restraint on the ground and in their public statements, and called for an end to incursions across the Line of Contact. While all parties reconfirmed their commitment to the 1994 cease-fire, the Co-Chairs reiterated that it is critical that this commitment is carried out in practice.

    The Co-Chairs welcomed the decision by Azerbaijan to postpone consideration of its resolution in the United Nations General Assembly. At the same time they reiterated that the OSCE Minsk Group remains the sole framework for a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

    Before they return to the region to carry out the Field Assessment Mission, the Co-Chairs will travel to Washington, D.C. and then to New York to work with the sides on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, as they had previously announced.

  4. re: “The analyst noted a “serious change” over the past five years, as people have started to pay more attention to the Karabakh issue.

    “Besides, a new generation, representatives of youth have come to the political arena. They are a serious factor of political pressure” Mammadov said.”

    That sounds like the exact opposite of what I see in Armenia.

    • Well put, Nazarian. Indeed, people are growing exceedingly indifferent towards the Karabakh issue, and youth have increasingly become a political ‘toy’, a ‘tool’, rather than a factor of pressure.

  5. Diaspora Armenians need to get military training, probably by joining their country of citizenship’s military. Armenia will almost certainly have to be defended again…And your people will need you to have such training.

    Also, what can be done within Armenia to promote a more humane military, and provoke Armenian youth to take their country’s future more seriously?

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