As Azerbaijan and Armenia celebrate the 20th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union, both countries find themselves trapped in a decades-long territorial dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, populated mostly by ethnic Armenians. Mediation efforts by the OSCE’s Minsk Group have failed to produce a breakthrough so far. The political leadership of both countries is unwilling and unable to make painful concessions, fearing opposition from domestic public opinion and the Diaspora abroad. As the arms race in the region accelerates, there is little hope for peace in the near future. The upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan will leave little room for political maneuvre. Meanwhile, growing frustration among both nations might lead to the outbreak of war and thus put the socio-economic development of the region and energy projects at great risk.
Paper prepared within the framework of the project "Azerbaijan, Caucasus and the EU: Towards Close Cooperation?". Revised version of a paper presented at the seminar on "The Future of Mediation on Nagorno-Karabakh", Rome, 11 July 2011.
1. Peace talks: complete deadlock
2. Obstacles to peace
2.1. The maximalist positions of the public
2.2. External actors and factors
2.3. Sovereignty, borders, and nation-building
3. Three scenarios for the future
3.1. Continued peace talks without tangible results
3.2. Gradual, unwanted transition to war
3.3. Planned war