The international community and countries which have been involved in the peace process need to make sure the two sides take a calm approach to the situation on the ground, which is very fluid, which could be destabilized at any time.
Having said that, the status quo, with a significant portion of Azeri lands occupied by Armenian forces, is not sustainable in the long run. So in addition to short term steps to stabilize the situation, we need to be looking at various alternatives and how to move forward without disturbing the process that has been going on for 17 years. So if that means stepping out of the box a bit and looking at alternatives which haven’t been put forward previously, new approaches, this is what we have to do. The status quo as it is now is not sustainable in the long run, said the Crisis Group’s South Caucasus Project Director Lawrence Sheets.
According to him, there were great hopes that the summit hosted in Kazan, Russia, in June of this year by President Medvedev of Russia, which included the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, could lead to a breakthrough after 17 years of talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh question: “Unfortunately, we’ve not seen a breakthrough, and the ongoing Minsk Group peace process over the last 17 years has slowed down dramatically. In addition, you have what is essentially an arms race between the various sides, bellicose rhetoric, ongoing military contingency plans, ongoing military contingencies, and all this has raised the temperature between the various sides”.
Speaking about possible restoration of Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan military operations he noted: “Our apprehension is that any new conflict would not simply be a conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. It could turn into a conflict involving regional actors. For one thing, this is because of the existence of security obligations between, on the one hand, the Russian Federation and Armenia, and on the other hand, Turkey and Azerbaijan, which cooperate closely on military and security matters. Iran, of course, shares a long border with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. It’s unpredictable as to what extent or how Iran could become involved, but obviously a conflict on its borders would be hard for Iran to totally ignore”.
He also noted that, the two sides had far more weaponry than they did in 1994, both offensive and defensive.