'Nagorno Karabakh Not Recognized By Any Country'
Interview with Mitja Žagar, Professor at the University of Ljubljana.
Q: What do you think about the possible use of the model of the autonomy of South Tyrol in case with Nagorno Karabakh, being one of the active participants of the international conference on this issue held in Baku on Wednesday?
A: I think that any models of autonomies may become useful. Certainly, one model cannot be fully used on a different situation, since it is necessary to analyze the pluses and minuses of each model and its applicability in other regions. In this sense, on some aspects the example of South Tyrol or for example the Aland isles can be applicable in case of Nagorno Karabakh.
All the same, the two parties in the conflict should reach an agreement about their determination to search the peace solution to the conflict that will be good not only to the population of the region-national majority and minority- but also the two states. Long-term cooperation also brings better results than hostilities.
Q: Meanwhile, in the case with Karabakh we have a unique situation when separatists strive to attain the international recognition of the implications of occupation of not only Nagorno Karabakh but also seven regions around it. Is there a serious hope that the aggressor can return peacefully the lands that it occupied by force?
A: In general, a country does not always voluntarily give up the land that it occupied by force. It is usually done under the pressure of the world community or in more frequent cases as a result of war when the country is obliged to withdraw. I think, in this sense, the first is the best option.
I have to note that the conflict parties often have different histories of the same event, that are diametrically opposite. It is worthy to note that Armenians admit that they had a good level of cooperation and coexistence in the future, while external players will say that it is not true. In addition, some leaders of the Armenian community also draw different pictures of the situation.
Therefore, it is necessary to take into account all these different stories related to the same fact. I think that the definition of some common interests by Azerbaijan and Armenia would be the best way to solve the conflict. One of them is the integration with the European Union, achieving standards of OSCE and Council of Europe and so on.
In this connection, the common economic interests are more important to Armenia. If both states including two regional communities take into account all these factors both on the level of the state and civil society, the foundation for future development will be laid. It is well known from history that common interests would be the best solution to similar problems.
Q: There is no doubt that ordinary Azerbaijanis and Armenians are tired of the conflict and they want peace. But what should we do with the negative impact of external players on the situation? I mean not only regional and off-regional countries that have their interests in the region but also the Armenian diaspora which rejects any chance of compromise by Yerevan. Is it possible to overcome these external barriers?
A: In general, the world community does not pay much attention to Karabakh conflict. I mean that this problem is not viewed as the problem of international peace and stability and it is attributed to secondary problems. It is difficult to accept such an approach, specially to the population and countries of the region. But on the other hand, the conflict parties were unable to get the support they hoped for. The international community openly recognized occupation but nothing more happened. Therefore, I would say that it should not be hoped for the settlement of the conflict by the world community and external players. And after all it cannot be said that the whole Armenian diaspora does not want to settle the conflict, it can be attributed to only a part of it. In addition, you will see different views while speaking to ordinary people in Armenia. The same picture can be seen in Azerbaijan.
You say that the world has no time for Karabakh. But the problem is that the matter is rather about the hindrance of the conflict solution by some external powers.
They do not want to do anything at all. For example, Russia has its problems and interests. Currently Russia is merely waiting for what happens.
Q: Most superpowers speculate on their attitude to any conflicts, the unilateral recognition of some territorial formations that were the integral parts of states in the recent past has become common. How serious here are the expectations of the Karabakh separatists from the recognition of their independence from Azerbaijan at least by some of their allies, if not the entire world?
A: Even Russia, which is considered the closest ally of Armenia, will not take this step. Russia cares much about its own interests. Therefore they won’t recognize independence. The situation in Georgia was a bit different. The matter is that Russia needs good ties both neighbors and it does not want to damage these ties.
Yes, the world community is not dealing seriously with this issue now. Therefore, if Azerbaijan and Armenia will be waiting for the reaction of the world community, this expectation will last for an indefinite period. Therefore, both countries would benefit from doing something themselves. If I were an Azerbaijani politician, I would suggest to view our common economic interests and interests in relation to EU.
Q: Do you think that cooperation on this stage will be favorable for settlement?
A: Yes, I do. I think cooperation is the ground for settlement. You cannot build a house on air, you will need a foundation for this. Common interests are traditionally the same foundation. When it is achieved, the next steps will be possible.
In case with South Tyrol, the transition from conflict to cooperation and then the issue settlement took years. Therefore, I think three dimensions are important. If we speak about a special process, we have to take into account the relations between all involved parties, territorial space and time. There is the fourth fact that I did not recall at the conflict in Baku. This fact is interests.
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