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Central Asia and South Caucasus Affairs: 2006
Central Asia and South Caucasus Affairs: 2006
 
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INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP - NEW REPORT   Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 November 2007 )

Nagorno-Karabakh: Risking War

Tbilisi/Brussels, 14 November 2007: Azerbaijan and Armenia should halt their dangerous arms race and restrain their belligerent rhetoric and instead renew efforts to find a negotiated settlement for the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Risking War,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the dangers of ignoring the conflict both for the region and for the wider international community. Oil money has given Azerbaijan new self-confidence and the means to upgrade its armed forces. Armenia has done surprisingly well economically and is increasing its own military expenditures. With both countries now building military capacity, neither believes it is time to compromise.

“The international community needs to take the threat of war within a few years seriously”, says Magdalena Frichova, Crisis Group Caucasus Project Director. “The risk of armed conflict is growing, and the dangers of complacency are enormous”.

Armenians and Azerbaijanis went to war over the mountainous province in the early 1990s, causing some 22,000 to 25,000 deaths and more than one million refugees and displaced persons in both countries. Today, most of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as considerable adjacent Azerbaijani territory, is occupied by ethnic Armenian forces.

Hope for diplomatic progress has been consistently undermined by the parties’ lack of political will and insufficient international resolve. Over the past few years, the leaderships of both countries have turned their publics increasingly against compromise, while boosting military expenditures. Both trends must be reversed.

The current negotiations – the Prague process, facilitated since April 2004 by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and led by France, Russia and the U.S. – can provide the framework for a negotiated settlement. Elections in both Azerbaijan and Armenia will complicate the political environment in 2008, however, so the sides should agree on a document of basic principles, even one that specifies where disagreements remain, before the polls. Such a result would secure what has been agreed upon so far and maintain the process during the year.

The Minsk Group co-chair and the wider international community should coordinate efforts to impress on both countries the need for progress. The EU and the U.S. should make the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict a key element of relations with the parties. The role of the EU special representative for the South Caucasus (EUSR) should be strengthened and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) reviews and funding should be used to promote confidence building, in addition to institution building and human rights.

“The international community needs to press hard for peace”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “Conditionality should be used with financial aid instruments, and active diplomacy should focus both sides on the costs of continued stalemate and confrontation, which far outweigh those of an early compromise”.

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Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) 32 (0) 2 541 1635
Giulia Previti (Washington) 1 202 785 1601
To contact Crisis Group media please click here
*Read the full Crisis Group report on our website: http://www.crisisgroup.org/
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The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering some 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.