Azerbaijan’s Latest Attempt to Moderate the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

A student guest post on recent peace attempts regarding the ongoing trouble-spot of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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As of April 8th of this year, diplomats have met in Washington to discuss the implications and progress toward resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This date holds a particular importance, as it marks the 20th anniversary of the U.N. Security Council resolution to first manage the crisis. Spurred by the Jamestown Foundation, the meeting between foreign dignitaries aims to manufacture a solvent framework for ending the longstanding ethnic strife.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one that is ultimately driven by irredentism on the part of the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, which wishes to break away from Azerbaijan in both territory and politics. These ethnic tensions go through cycles of inflamed extremism, the most violent of which culminated itself in a regional war. This protracted war spanned from 1988 until 1994, when a tentative truce was signed, which has failed to create any resolution to the issue. But these ethnic strains persist to even this day, as an Azerbaijani soldier was shot in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and prompted claims that Azerbaijan had thus violated their ceasefire agreement as per the truce of 1994. In response, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has once again sparked back up, and the meeting in Washington is hoped to perhaps draw the issue to a close.

The possible solutions to this dilemma are all contingent upon Azeri or Armenian concessions on their conceptions of sovereignty. Either a possible state sharing framework can be constructed similar to what was proposed between Palestine and Israel, or Azerbaijan cedes their claims to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and allow the ethnic Armenian population to be assimilated into Armenia proper. Additionally, a complex system of export visas and voluntary emigration might be a useful mitigation of flashpoints of irredentism and ethnic strife, but unfortunately, it seems that absent a substantive shift in the geopolitics of the Caucasus region, these solutions will never come to fruition. The ramifications of a solution to a separatist ethnic movement within Azerbaijan could create a blueprint for future breaks, and would contain the possibility of paving the way for groups like the Chechens or the Basks to finally achieve autonomy. It seems that this is but a pipedream however, as neither Azerbaijan, nor Armenia, is willing to concede any ground in the decades long ethnically charged war between the two countries.



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