Publications of experts CACDS - Southern Caucasus

Rauf Radjabov: Karabakh conflict - "Can we live together?"

Recently, the intensification of the negotiation process on the resolution of the Karabakh conflict and intensification of the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations (OSCE MG) have been observed in this regard. The OSCE MG proceeds from the fact that the main responsibility for the final choice lies with the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The co-chair countries are ready to support the solution to the problem, which will be resolved by all parties involved, and in the event of a compromise agreement, to act as the guarantor of the settlement. And this approach is correct. But today it's premature to talk about a radical change. There is anxiety about the fact that the current positive shift may suddenly turn into a reverse process and return the negotiations to the previous level, which is highly undesirable.

It is likely that in the short term there may be another document regulating certain issues, but a comprehensive solution to the Karabakh conflict is not expected. Who, from the point of view of the international community, can convince the two sides of the need to engage in mutually beneficial, interdependent and mutually supportive cooperation? After all, the keys to the solution of the Karabakh conflict lie not in Washington, Brussels or Moscow, they lie in Baku and Yerevan. Therefore, external pressure on both sides, an item on international security guarantees and a peace-keeping operation is a key factor.

It is clear that the placement of military contingents of other states in the zone of the Karabakh conflict will severely limit the sovereignty of both Azerbaijan and Armenia. After that, the solution of the problems of the South Caucasus region will not be dictated by other states, but by parties of the conflict. Is it possible to believe that the interests of foreign states are exclusively in a peaceful settlement that they will not try to establish their political and military control over a strategically important region under a convenient pretext?

In essence, today we are talking about whether Azerbaijan and Armenia can remain as independent subjects of international law, or their sovereignty will be severely limited. Moreover, without a fundamental resolution of the Karabakh conflict. It is precisely in this situation that Baku and Yerevan have more than ever shared national and regional interests (no matter how paradoxical it sounds). It is at this time that the future fate of the South Caucasus is determined. So far, the political elites of Azerbaijan and Armenia have opportunities to influence the development of events in the region. And the future prospects of the South Caucasus largely depend on whether Azerbaijan and Armenia will be able to go beyond the boundaries of interethnic conflicts.

Interim compromise

The active mediation role of the West in the OSCE MG format, the expansion of cooperation between Iran, Russia and Turkey, and the formation of a stable authority in Armenia create conditions for the beginning of the process of settling the Karabakh conflict. The OSCE MG is one of the few areas of interaction between Russia and the United States, despite all their contradictions on the international agenda. And OSCE MG Co-Chairs are trying to negotiate within the framework of constructivism.

Obviously, such a policy of OSCE MG Co-Chairs and the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia creates favorable conditions for finding a compromise with a view to resolving the Karabakh conflict. It is natural that 16 January 2019 of the year the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers agreed to prepare their peoples for peace and reaffirmed the commitment of the two countries to a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

Against this background, the attitude of the official authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia to the "Madrid Principles" is contradictory. On the one hand, the Azerbaijani and Armenian authorities generally agree with them, but no real action has been taken on their basis until now. Each side, Azerbaijan and Armenia, are considering the benefits of the document in its favor, which points to the following: both Baku and Yerevan seek to resolve the Karabakh conflict within the batch option, while OSCE MG co-chairs propose a step-by-step solution to the Karabakh problem.

For example, Baku does not welcome the placement of international peacekeeping forces in the occupied Armenian Armed Forces in Azerbaijani territories. In Baku, they consider that their placement in the zone of the Karabakh conflict or the mechanisms to control the truce leads to "freezing" the Karabakh conflict and preserving the current status quo on the line of contact between the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Against this background, Russia and the United States can not come to a consensus on the issue of peacekeeping forces in the Karabakh conflict zone. Obviously, if there is a decision on the predominance of the CSTO military contingent as part of such a mission, official Moscow will promote such a format for resolving the Karabakh conflict. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the Kremlin will allow the US to lobby for NATO membership in a peacekeeping mission in the South Caucasus region.

The fact that Moscow generally supports the idea of ​​deploying peacekeeping forces in the Karabakh conflict zone indicates that the Russian side has its own plan. Probably Moscow is trying to obtain OSCE consent to deploy peacekeeping forces in the so-called L / DNR with maximum participation. Instead, the Kremlin can agree to expand the OSCE chairmanship in Karabakh. However, most likely, Baku will oppose these plans. In other words, the willingness of the Russian authorities to clearly mark the military contingent of the CSTO as part of the peacekeeping forces in Karabakh is clearly in line with the Kremlin's geopolitical priorities. However, without the consent of Baku and Yerevan, the OSCE can not decide on the expansion of the Organization's mission in the area of ​​the Karabakh conflict.

The classical formula for an intermediate compromise sounds like "exchanging parts of the occupied territories for security." Yerevan passes Baku areas around Nagorno-Karabakh, in exchange for this, Azerbaijan removes the blockade of Armenia and the unrecognized NKR. Demilitarization of the conflict zone is under way, talks begin on the status of Karabakh, which will be decided in the future through a referendum.

In reality, there is one compromise: the creation of a federative or confederative education in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh with two communities - the Azerbaijani and Armenian. Both of them will have broad rights, de facto equal to the rights of an independent state, including their parliament, their laws, their foreign economic activities, police, etc. De jure is the status of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) in Azerbaijan. In the Constitution of Azerbaijan, by the way, it is confirmed that NAR is a state within the Republic of Azerbaijan.

However, the integration of NK into Azerbaijan can not be realized without Baku's full reconciliation with the Armenian population of Karabakh. To do this, it is necessary to prepare an "road map" of integration, which suggests legislative proposals on the involvement of Karabakh's Armenian and Azerbaijani population into a single project.

Forming new images

Speaking about the models of the political settlement of the Karabakh conflict, we must not forget the stereotypes that exist in our societies. For example, the image of the enemy. But the model of interests presupposes not the existence of the enemy's image, but his replacement on the image of the enemy, since only an adversary will be able to become a partner in the future. In the process of transitioning to this model, the media have a great responsibility. Therefore, I consider it the first priority of all analysts, political scientists, experts, media representatives from Azerbaijan and Armenia to develop a general Program for the formation of pragmatic and effective benchmarks, including those of value, in our societies. For example, European values. Erasmus of Rotterdam's humanism is acceptable to both the Azerbaijani and Armenian people. Only the formation of genuinely democratic values ​​in our societies will lead the elites to understand that it is necessary to serve the people, and not to manipulate them.

Unfortunately, I can not argue that in Azerbaijan and Armenia, a mechanism for positive influence and formation of public opinion has been worked out with the aim of endorsing by both peoples of the nations a comprehensive political agreement to resolve the Karabakh conflict. As long as there is no truly independent electronic and print media functioning in our countries, it is not possible to accomplish this task. We have not yet developed a single "Public Agenda", hence, there is no single geopolitical project for the development of the region as a whole. Formation is not an image of an enemy, but even an opponent (ideally, of course, a partner) in the negotiation process, is obligated to perform an independent and objective press. And in this connection, there is a reasonable question: what kind of mission in resolving the Karabakh conflict is carried out by numerous print and electronic media of the two countries?

It can be stated that after the active phase of the fighting, the information war was on the forefront. And she turned in electronic and print media, on numerous online forums. So, in the course went attack hackers one side of the sites of another. By the way, the war of hackers passes with varying success. Observations show that most sites attacking the Azerbaijani or Armenian point of view on the history of the South Caucasus, as well as the etymology of the Karabakh conflict, are attacked. However, the most surprising thing in the "war of hackers" is how the mass media of Azerbaijan and Armenia replicate the successful actions of "their" hackers, hacking the enemy's sites. It should be noted that at the same time representatives of the Azerbaijani and Armenian media have never publicly condemned such "heroes". Though, there is a sufficient amount of hardware available to crack down on hackers, hacking sites. Two subjects of international law, both Azerbaijan and Armenia, have joined the international legal acts against hacking. In particular, work is currently being completed in Azerbaijan to bring national legislation in line with the requirements of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. "The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime adopted in November 2001 in Budapest. The purpose of the Convention is to harmonize laws on computer crimes that differ in different countries. It should also be noted that public protests against the activity of "hackers" were being actively publicized in Azerbaijan. For example, an official spokesman for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information in an interview with the Caspian newspaper and the president of the Azerbaijani Internet Forum Osman Gunduz, who directly called the attack on any sites a criminal offense, and hackers, were criminals. By the way, in Armenia there are practically no such examples.

Interestingly, the direction of the news stream has also changed. Often a sensational message appears first on the Internet, and then transmitted on television, but in newspapers, this information is printed only the next day. And this is the merit of bloggers. In this context, unfortunately, the Karabakh conflict has not yet gained anything useful. Although, today, many European media outlets are creating a news stream based on the demand of readers who work as an expert community - they discuss and analyze the information they offer. In other words, the monologue has turned into a dialogue. And this means that the world is becoming mobile, accessible and less distorted.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning the information battles that unfold on national and regional online forums. Participants, using one-way information, are constantly trying to prove to each other that their country has historically well-founded rights to a significant part of the South Caucasus, or that the opposite side is guilty of the emergence and development of the Karabakh conflict. A greater part of such users engages in insults and threats. In this case, there is no point in giving examples, since my task is by no means copying, to put it mildly, incorrect statements of poorly educated people.

The development of new media carriers has led to the fact that every news magazine seeks to first place on the Internet information about what's happening, sacrificing, in particular, the time to verify sources. And this in turn negatively affects the quality of materials. Therefore, the quality of materials available to our attention today really raises many questions in the expert environment. Before the emergence of social networks and blogging communities, the latest news could be learned from a limited number of sources, i.e. there was a kind of monopoly on broadcasting. But with the advent of new media carriers, this amount has grown to infinity, and today only the quality of the information we consume depends on us. In this connection, the question arises of Internet literacy. Thus, competent consumption of information is a skill, a kind of art, as well as a matter of education. The task of a modern Internet user is to learn how to properly filter information. In addition, media literacy is a process of critical thinking, a skill that needs to be developed. Today, more than ever, readers have the opportunity to consider many points of view, to look at the problem from all sides and to form their opinions. However, this imposes additional responsibility on us.

But can we passively wait for the moment when the emotional nihilism of ordinary consciousness ceases to dominate when it becomes possible to address the problems of universal human existence, when the question posed by the French scientist A. Turin "Can we live together?" Will become the subject of an active discussion of our print and electronic media, will become vital for each of us?

... It is not possible to assess the true scale of the problem, because in the region of the South Caucasus, concepts such as incitement to ideological hatred have not yet been defined.

It is thought that the common values ​​of the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples should be sought today, because the prospects for further geopolitical, geoeconomic, cultural and historical existence of the Caucasus depend on it. Paraphrasing the words of A.Turen, one can formulate the question: "With the help of which we can survive together?" When answering this question should pay attention to the universal dominant - conscience and responsibility to future generations.

It is said that the feeling of hatred goes from century to century, but babies are not born with a sense of hatred. We see that the joint living of new generations of Germans and French in the world, in harmony and even in friendship, is the best means of hatred. The end of hostility between the Germans and the French is a victory for good and proves the possibility of a way out of this vicious circle.

Today, television is increasingly influencing the formation of public opinion, i.e. defines mood in society. Therefore, television should also influence the formation of so-called "Peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict".

In order to reduce the scale of the information war and accordingly increase the quality of the negotiation process to resolve the Karabakh conflict, mediation and control of the independent journalistic structures of Azerbaijan and Armenia should be achieved by removing insulting epithets and statements to the neighbors in the media of both countries. This can be achieved by mutual agreement on a number of Internet forums, gradually expanding their number. But, the most important thing is to try to form the Azerbaijani-Armenian information space.

What Azerbaijani and Armenian media are obliged to do: initiate a discussion of replacing the model of the position trading with the model of cooperation; appeal to Azerbaijani and Armenian societies with a call to display a careful attitude towards historical and religious monuments in the zone of ceasefire and beyond; to initiate cooperation on the joint development and implementation of programs to create an environmentally friendly information space. The mass media of Azerbaijan and Armenia should adhere to the norms of the international convention, where the concepts and enmities, and xenophobia are clearly stated. This would greatly help to broaden tools and identify methods for assessing and combating manifestations of aggression on the Internet.


First, the In order for the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to establish a consolidated position on the Karabakh conflict, which is able to influence the positions of Baku and Yerevan and accelerate the negotiation process, it is necessary to coincide with a very large number of factors and conditions. At present, this does not happen, and in the foreseeable future it hardly happens, given the ongoing geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the United States.

In the current geopolitical conditions, OSCE MG co-chairmen will not conclude a deal for a final political settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Consequently, the Russian Federation, the United States and France will not put military-political, diplomatic or economic pressure on Baku and Yerevan to force one of the parties to the conflict to sign an agreement on conditions not acceptable to him.

OSCE MG co-chairs are interested in maintaining the status quo in the zone of the Karabakh conflict, in the absence of consensus between Russia and the United States regarding the coercion of Baku and Yerevan to sign a political agreement on Karabakh. Although, on the background of Washington's pursuit of economic and military-political deterrence, Russia's administration of the United States, Donald Trump, will be active in the South Caucasus region.

However, given the fact that Baku and Yerevan are constantly emphasizing the role of Moscow in the Karabakh settlement, Russia will continue the process of resolving the conflict within the framework of the Russian plan. N.Pashinyan in principle can compromise with Baku, i.e. agree on the implementation of the Kazan formula: Yerevan returns Baku occupied areas around Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for the de-blockade of Armenia; two corridors are created - Lachinsky and air; demilitarization of the conflict zone is carried out; Nagorno-Karabakh has a temporary status.

It should be noted that the realization of the Kazan formula is that the Russian plan does not contradict the key "Basic principles" developed by the mediators from the OSCE MG: Baku recognizes the right of Karabakh Armenians to self-government, and Yerevan frees the occupied areas around Nagorno-Karabakh under its control for the exception of the Lachin land corridor connecting the region with Armenia. After all, with any of the known variants of the political settlement of the Karabakh conflict, on the one hand, Baku can count on the return of the occupied territories around the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKAR), and on the other hand, it can agree that Nagorno-Karabakh is at the administrative borders the former NKAO along with the ground Lachin Corridor for communication with Armenia will not be immediately returned to the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan.

Within the framework of preparation of the draft of the Big Political Agreement, the Azerbaijani authorities can agree to install one branch of the gas pipeline across the territory of Armenia in the direction of Turkey, as well as to reconstruct the Julfin railway to connect Iran via Nakhchivan to Armenia, which will positively evaluate both in Tehran and Yerevan.

In this case, Yerevan can agree to prepare a draft of the Big Political Project, including the elements of a step-by-step approach to withdraw the Armenian Armed Forces from the Azerbaijani territories around the NKR, their return to Baku and the restoration of interstate relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey with all the ensuing consequences.

Second, the The formation of a legitimate Armenian government headed by popularly-elected prime minister Nikolash Pashinyan, with broad public support, in Yerevan does not allow Moscow to exert a decisive pressure on the Armenian side to force Yerevan to unilaterally concessions in determining the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Obviously, such actions will lead to an increase in anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia, with all the negative political consequences for Moscow until the exit of Yerevan from the CSTO and the Yerevan nuclear power plant (under the most radical scenario).

Third, A well-known statement by N.Pashinyan on the possible connection of Stepanakert (Khankendi) to the negotiation process under the auspices of the OSCE MG could lead to the withdrawal of Baku from this format. Only in one case Baku may in principle agree to the return of a representative of Nagorno-Karabakh to a negotiation format under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group. If we are talking about a kind of "road map", which involves transferring Azerbaijan control over the territories occupied by Yerevan outside the administrative boundaries of the former NKAR, without a specific provision of the so-called "status" status. "NKR".

Fourth, if the balance of geopolitical actors in the region of the South Caucasus and around it will change (for example, the US-Israeli military operation against Iran, the strengthening of Turkey in Syria, the strengthening of US sanctions against Russia and their negative impact on the country's economy with all the ensuing negative political consequences for the Russian side), Baku may take decisive steps to change the status quo in the zone of the Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan no longer wants to maintain the status quo in the zone of the Karabakh conflict, because this situation does not correspond to the long-term national and regional interests of Baku. Moreover, the current status quo does not meet the long-term national priorities of Armenian statehood.

Rauf Radjabov Orientalist, Head of the Analytical Center 3RD VIEW, Baku, Azerbaijan