With an upcoming summit in Kazan on June 25, the festering Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is back in the spotlight. In a recent piece for "The National Interest,"
Caucasus expert Tom de Waal wrote that "a moment of truth is approaching."
At Kazan in late June, President Dmitry Medvedev, backed by the French and U.S. mediators, will make a strong push to have Presidents Aliev and Sarkisian finally cut a deal on the Document on Basic Principles that they have been discussing for more than five years now.
The Document on Basic Principles aims to bridge the sovereignty conundrum at the heart of the conflict. In Soviet times, Nagorny Karabakh was an Armenian-majority autonomous region inside Soviet Azerbaijan. Since their military victory in 1994, the Armenians have controlled not just Karabakh itself-which they say they will never give up-but also a “buffer zone” of Azerbaijani territories around it, which they say they will renounce if their possession of Karabakh is ensured. For their part, the Azerbaijanis press their international de jure claim to Karabakh and are pouring revenues from oil and gas into building up a new powerful army.
The Basic Principles document offers constructive ambiguity. It stipulates a gradual Armenian withdrawal from the territories around Karabakh; “interim status” for Karabakh itself, giving it enhanced international legitimacy but not full independence; and the promise in the future of a popular vote, a “legally-binding expression of will” to determine the future status of the territory.
In the above video, the director of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service Kenan Aliyev spoke to de Waal on June 2 at the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace about the hopes for peace.
-- Luke Allnutt