Most analysts in Yerevan think the Karabakh peace process is moving forward despite what appeared to be a lack of progress at the latest round of Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in Russia last month.
Political analyst Ruben Mehrabian views Friday’s ‘shuttle diplomacy’ by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to convey President Dmitry Medvedev’s new proposals on Karabakh to the leaderships in Armenia and Azerbaijan as the continuation of the Kazan summit after which the sides announced reaching only “a mutual understanding on a number of issues.”
The kind of outcome still gave the international mediators grounds to assume that Armenia and Azerbaijan would live up to their commitment to seek a negotiated peace to the long-running dispute.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday Mehrabian said Russia’s continued activity meant the process was not stalled despite the absence of clear strides.
The analyst also noted an increasingly active role of the European Union in the Karabakh issue, which he said provided a greater possibility for Armenia and Azerbaijan to agree around the basic principles of conflict settlement soon.
Earlier this week EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “redouble their efforts to find an agreement before the end of this year.”
In this view Mehrabian contended that the sides now had a narrower space for maneuver.
Meanwhile, Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute director Alexander Iskandarian sees no grounds to assume that the sides could come to some sort of agreement around the resolution of the conflict already this year. He is more inclined to think that at this stage Russia is seeking a non-aggression document from Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“The negotiating process has been going on for nearly two decades. Has anything special happened during this time? Is Iran now occupied by the United States or has the balance of forces been dramatically shifted? Has Azerbaijan suddenly become China that these changes take place, let alone during the next several months? No such things happen in such processes,” the analyst opined.
Iskandarian downplayed the likelihood of war, saying that starting it would be a crazy thing do to. He added that he did not consider the Azerbaijani leadership to be ‘crazy’.
“If a war breaks out, it will last for only three or five days. It will lead to great losses among Karabakh Armenians, but won’t solve Azerbaijan’s problems. Moreover, Azerbaijan itself will sustain very serious losses because of this war, which is likely to lead to a leadership change in this country. Because of the war Azerbaijan may see financial assistance stopped and its oil infrastructure will be damaged,” said Iskandarian.