“It is an intractable conflict and almost without solution”

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Armenia and Azerbaijan live in a situation of diplomatic tension and armed confrontation that can start a war at any moment. The main reason is control of one of the border areas, that of Nagorno Karabakh, and is caused by a situation that was left unresolved after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Nagorno Karabaj, which means “High Black Garden”, is a mountainous region comparable in size to Murcia, but with a population three times smaller: 140,000 inhabitants. Its history dates back to 1988, when the USSR gave its last blows before its extinction, the region decided to declare itself independent from Azerbaijan and thus began a cruel war that lasted 6 years.

In the conflict there were two sides, the same as today. On the one hand, Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority nation, claimed that Nagorno Karabakh was within its territory, and therefore control over the area belonged to it. On the other was Armenia, which defended the proclamation of independence, since the majority population that lived in the region they were Christians of Armenian origin, which populated the territory during the period of the Soviet Union.

The confrontation ended in 1994 with about 30,000 dead, more than a million displaced and a shaky peace that left Nagorno Karabáj as a de facto independent state, only supported by Armenia. The situation since then has been one of small one-off confrontations, the last in 2016, until in July 2020 the conflict resumed again.

An elderly woman hides in a basement used as a refuge from the alleged Azerbaijani bombing in Stepanakert, in the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“It is an entrenched conflict, in which geopolitical, ethnic, religious and historical elements affect. The terrible war that was lived, ended with a strange autonomy in the form of a republic in the region, which not even Armenia itself recognized, something that only postponed the problem, “he points to 20Minutos Adela Alija, doctor in International Relations and professor at the Antonio de Nebrija University.

Russia and Turkey, pending a conflict in a strategic area

As is usual in this type of dispute, both countries accuse each other of having started by striking the first blow. In summer, 16 soldiers were killed in border clashes, sparking a series of protests in Azerbaijan, calling for the recapture of Nagorno Karabakh. Tensions have been mounting until September 27 resulted in an armed confrontation, in which both nations have declared a state of emergency, and the dead now number 158 people.

The South Caucasus, where Armenia and Azerbaijan meet, is a very important strategic area, since there The pipelines that carry Azeri oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea to Turkey and Europe pass. This is one of the reasons why two external actors, such as Russia and Turkey, are pending on the conflict, each one on one side.

On the one hand, the Turks have Azerbaijan as their biggest oil supplier, and they also have a historical enmity with Armenia. For this reason, information has been published suggesting that the Turkish president, Erdogan, has sent 4,000 Syrian soldiers, information that they have denied. According to Dr. Alija, the Ottomans play a key role and prepare for a war scenario: “Turkey has shown that is ready for an intervention and is ready to carry it out when necessary. “

On the other side is Russia, a country that sells weapons to both Armenians and Azeris, but has displaced troops in Armenia, and also has an existing treaty by which it promised to defend them. However, they do not seem so prone to intervene in an armed conflict, and Alija notes that “it seems that Russia would participate only in the last extreme. ”

Images distributed by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan
Images distributed by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan

The international community is confident that an agreement will be reached, but is far from mediating between the states

The current scene in Nagorno Karabakh is dangerously reminiscent of that experienced in 1988, when war broke out. “We are experiencing a phase of escalating tensions and there may be an open conflict anytime. The key is that it does not go from being bilateral to regional, because it would involve more states and its magnitude would be greater, “says Dr. Alija.

The international community is aware of the difficulty of resolving the conflict, and they hope that tensions will cool down again and that the the status quo previous: “The solution is very complicated, almost impossible. We are facing one of those conflicts called ‘intractable’, due to its complexity. The objective of the international community is for it to remain empty and not affect the stability of the entire region, “says the expert in International Relations.

The European Union is neither here nor expected. It is in the process of protecting its states from the Covid-19 pandemic and has the added problem of Brexit, which is why “it has decided to turn its head.” On the other hand, the United Nations Security Council met urgently last Tuesday 29 to show its concern in a statement: “We call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to assume immediately, in good faith and without preconditions, the obligation to resume negotiations. for the arrangement “. But for the moment it seems that it will stay in a mere ad, “and there is going to be no response or intervention by the UN in the short term,” concludes Alija.

Finally, a conflict of these characteristics, and in which Russia and Turkey are also involved as actors, may have repercussions in the member states of the European Union, including Spain. Alija points out that, in the first place, “the area is one of the limits of Europe”, and therefore what happens directly affects her. Furthermore, “the EU should make a decision and formulate a clear line of foreign policy towards the region and towards Russia and Turkey, but this seems unlikely to happen.

In short, Nagorno Karabakh is left to its own devices by the international community, and the complexity of the conflict does not invite hope for a possible peace agreement. Russia and Turkey play a decisive role in the future of the region, and their economic and geopolitical interests will prevail in his way of acting in the coming weeks.



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