“Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible.”
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan
First, it was small transgressions by Azerbaijan at the Nagorno-Karabakh border, then a full scale attempt at penetrating Armenian defense lines, then the passage of a resolution condemning Armenia at the UN General Assembly as the aggressor, finally declarations against the usefulness of the Minsk group. Azerbaijan is on the offensive; trying to sabotage ongoing negotiations, using every international instance to impress upon the world that its territorial integrity has been compromised, countering the impact of the Kosovo independence declaration by discrediting it, trying to gradually sideline the efforts of the tri-member Minsk group and laying the groundwork for a large scale preemptive attack on Nagorno-Karabakh. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev is expanding on the war rhetoric with impunity, he proposes to double Azerbaijan’s defense budget to over two Billion. Speaking to a group of soldiers in a bunker close to the heavily militarized Azerbaijani-Armenian cease-fire line, he stated “Only the first phase of the war has finished. The war has not yet ended.” He is convinced that “Azerbaijan has the most powerful army and the strongest military potential which is in a position to retake the territories.”
While Armenia was shaken to the core by unprecedented turmoil over the presidential elections, by foreign agents within and enemies abroad, Azerbaijan is on the offensive with a shotgun approach, trying anything and everything, diplomatically, militarily and in the court of public opinion, putting a spin as the victim, with the help of its core supporters. It seems that finally, the Armenian Government has awoken from its torpor. Former President Kocharian threatened to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, Former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian was still debating weather such a move would be detrimental to ongoing negotiations by the Minsk group. The Armenian Parliament was debating the viability of the Nagorno-Karabakh strategy. Nagorno-Karabakh president Bako Sahakian was predicting that Russia could be one of the first countries to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh independence. It seems that at long last there is a consensus building within Armenia, to be on the offensive and more aggressively pursue the international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Could it be that Azerbaijan unwittingly unleashed a reaction by the Armenian Government that could prove to be detrimental to Azeri grand designs? Could it be that Azerbaijan is creating an artificial atmosphere of instability while secretly preparing for a preemptive attack?
Armenian war planners should be ready for all eventualities at anytime. An attack by Azerbaijan is going to be a concerted all out effort to crush and further isolate Armenia. Several scenarios loom on the horizon; First; a sudden all out attack resulting in a breach in Armenian defenses on the Nagorno-Karabakh front, ending with some serious Azeri strategic gains on the ground, with an imposed ceasefire, before Armenian forces can regain their former positions. Second; civil unrest in Armenia orchestrated by the enemy within, with fighting raging on the Nagorno-Karabakh front, with massive aerial bombing by Azerbaijan and its surrogates. Third: a war of attrition depleting Armenian resources, with Russia’standing at bay, while Turkey as well as Georgia seal their borders completely, compounded by some kind of concocted insurgency at the Iranian border, thus completely isolating Armenia; It is a certainty that Azerbaijan has reached a point where it believes that a military solution is a viable and winnable choice. This is based on active encouragement by its allies, based on the importance attached to its oil reserves and based on popular support in Azerbaijan.
Armenian Authorities need to evaluate the situation visa vie the Nagorno-Karabakh republic and come up with a new design as to how to reinvigorate the negotiation process – especially given the new set of circumstances- while preparing for war. It is a fact that, first: Azerbaijan has no intention of reaching an honorable compromise at the negotiating table. Second: the world is not ready to alienate Azeri designs by granting the people of Nagorno-Karabakh the independence recognition they deserve. Finally, recognition of the fact that nations have to fight for their rights and convince the world that a nation has the inalienable right for self determination and that resolution of the conflict is to the benefit of peace in the region, allowing an uninterrupted flow of oil.
To begin with, Armenia’should be the first to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state. According to President Kocharian recent developmen’s obligate Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to make changes, regarding the national security requiremen’s and status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The President stressed that there are two alternatives; to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh immediately or to replace recognition at this time by signing a security agreement between Armenia and N.K.R., to set up close cooperation in the spheres of defense, mutual help regarding aid to the people and a shield against aggression. This pact might place Nagorno-Karabakh within the CIS security agreement by proxy. It will act as a deterrent against militaristic aspirations.”
Armenia’should also proactively work towards the acquisition of recognition by the international community. Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakian is predicting that “Russia and other CIS Countries could be the first to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.” Armenian Parliament speaker Tigran Torosian called for “consolidation of efforts of all Armenia’s to ensure international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence.”
Armenia’should also capitalize on mistakes by Azeri diplomacy. The recent vote on the Azeri proposal at the United Nations, and the subsequent fallout, represent a golden opportunity to work on those countries that voted for the proposal (such as Serbia) and those countries that voted against and are now facing the wrath of Azerbaijan. Armenian Foreign Service representatives around the world should play a more active role in this instance.
Nagorno-Karabakh Authorities should also be on the offensive and win the hearts and minds of European Nations. The joint parliamentary commission of Armenia and Karabakh stressed the importance of European involvement in the topic of “unrecognized states.” Karabakh is ready far contact with Europe. Its Constitution adopted in 2006 complies with international standards. Karabakh parliament speaker Ashot Ghulyan said that Karabakh needs to draw the attention of Europe to the issue of human right in Karabakh. He said Karabakh should join several international and European conventions.
Azerbaijan is trying to present Armenia to the world community as the aggressor, and itself as the victim, stressing on the violation of its “territorial integrity.” Armenia’should dispel its image as an aggressor state; promote the right of the People of Nagorno-Karabakh for self determination, stressing instead on the abuses of Azerbaijan as a brutal colonial occupier of a people. According to Armenian parliamentary speaker Tigran Torosian, “From the viewpoint of international standards, Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self- determination looks infallible, and the constitution of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic absolutely meets European standards.” He emphasized that the Armenian Parliament will work to draw Nagorno-Karabakh into talks as a full-fledged party.
Recent internal discontent and turmoil in Armenia has temporarily immobilized Armenian Diplomacy. It has also weakened Armenia against pressures. Armenia was slow to react to the Kosovo independence declaration. Armenia needs to engage more proactively to insure the survivability of a sister nation that has risen from servitude by sacrificing the blood of its sons and daughters and effectively has all the prerequisites to become a nation among nations.
It is a shame that no substantial effort has been made on this day of the Anniversary of the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh, to invest in the future economic viability of Nagorno-Karabakh. No effort to flourish and reconstruct Shoushi the Jewel of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and no effort to repopulate barren regions devastated by Azerbaijan.