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06 08 28 - "Either the Karabakh conflict will be resolved, or it will get worse for both side" Today.Az » Politics » Mark Katz: "Either the Karabakh conflict will be resolved, or it will get worse for both side"
25 August 2006 [17:00] - Today.Az
"The Azeri-Armenian dispute will not go on as it has. Either it will be resolved, or it will get worse for both side."It seems to me, though, that the two parties cannot come to an agreement because each sees itself as being on the defensive, and that compromise with the other could spell disaster," Mark N. Katz, Professor of Government and Politics Department of Public and International Affairs Department of George Mason University, told APA in an exclusive interview.He thinks that international organizations have been ineffective in finding a peaceful solution because they can only succeed at this if both sides want one."Their real aim, it seems to me, is not to find a peaceful solution but to help prevent a renewed outbreak of fighting," he said.He thinks that Russian, who has great influence on Armenian, is not interested in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict."Russia does have great influence in Armenia—but only so long as the Karabakh conflict persists. If the conflict was ever resolved peacefully and this contributed to the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey, Armenia would have much less need of Russia. Fearing this, Moscow does not want to see the Karabakh conflict resolved."He thinks that Russian support for Azerbaijan is unreal."Russia supports Armenia, not Azerbaijan. But Azerbaijan cannot afford to have relations that are too unfriendly with neighboring Russia. The U.S. government is more sympathetic toward the Azeri position, but American domestic politics will not allow Washington to pressure Armenia to reach a settlement. Thus, neither the U.S. nor Russia is really pushing for a peace settlement, though neither wants to see renewed fighting either. Azerbaijan's balancing between Russia and the U.S., though, goes beyond the Karabakh issue. The U.S. has been a much more useful partner than Russia for Azerbaijan on the oil pipeline issue. Neither the US nor Russia is pushing for a quick settlement to the conflict, though for different reasons. In my view, though, both should do so. For if the conflict is not resolved, fighting could break out again. And while it may be easy to start such a fight, ending it will probably not be so easy."He thinks that Azerbaijan's diplomatic initiative is required for the settlement."Azerbaijan's newfound wealth, I believe, allows it the opportunity to launch its own diplomatic initiative for resolving the conflict. Baku could, for example, offer Armenia aid and investment in exchange for a withdrawal. I realize that many Azeris might be offended by this suggestion. But since it is unlikely that Armenia can be forced to withdraw, it will have to be induced. And Azerbaijan may have the means to do so," he insists.He also said that Armenia's "victory" over Azerbaijan has indeed cost it heavily in terms of international isolation and lack of development."And as long as a peace settlement is not reached, it will continue to pay these costs—and perhaps even greater ones. What stops Armenia from pulling its troops back is that Armenians have bitter memories about Turks. Unfortunately, Armenians equate the Turks and the Azeris. Armenians feel strongly that it would be a confession of wrongdoing to withdraw from Azeri territory, which would be an acknowledgement that their occupation of it was wrong. What this means, unfortunately, is that the resolution of the Azeri-Armenian dispute is inextricably intertwined with the troubled Turkish-Armenian relationship.""Russia does not really want to see the conflict resolved for fear of losing what influence it has in the South Caucasus. Nor does Iran want to see the conflict resolved for fear that a peaceful, prosperous Azerbaijan will motivate them to secede. Turkey could help Azerbaijan considerably by increasing its efforts to normalize relations with Armenia. This would also be in Turkey’s interest, since it would improve its prospects for joining the EU."His view is that Armenia has paid, and continues to pay, very heavy costs for its "victory" over Azerbaijan. It is willing to pay these costs, though, because it fears that withdrawal from Azeri territory will be the first step toward the destruction of Armenia. What is needed, then, is a peace accord that encourages Armenia that it will be able to live in peace with its neighbors— the Azeris and the Turks.He thinks a peace agreement should entail:Karabakh: Armenian forces withdraw and replaced by a UN force like in Kosovo.Small Corridor between Armenia and Karabakh: Armenian withdrawal and replacement by UN force that permits access both between Armenia and Karabakh, and between Azeri territories separated by the corridor.Other Azeri occupied territory: Armenian withdrawal and return to Azerbaijan.UN-administered Property Settlement Commission: Azeris and Armenians who lost property in earlier Azeri-Armenian conflict must either receive it back or be adequately compensated for it.He also said that the conflict will not last long at this rate."I strongly believe that the Azeri-Armenian dispute will not go on as it has. Either it will be resolved, or it will get worse for both sides."


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