The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Frank Engel MEP

Frank Engel (1975) is a Member of the European Parliament from Luxembourg (EPP), and the Vice-Chair of the Delegation for the relations with the People’s Republic of China. He is also the Honorary Consul of Armenia to Luxembourg, and co-author of the book “Europe’s Next Avoidable War: Nagorno-Karabakh”.

Azerbaijan has again violated the Karabakh ceasefire. This time, it has done so on the scale of a massive aggression. The scenario is that of war. The war that Azerbaijan has been trying to unleash for a long time.

The international community is again calling on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect the ceasefire. While the conflict is not between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but between Azerbaijan and Karabakh, neither Karabakh nor Armenia have violated the ceasefire.

The Armenian side has never done that. It is always the same country which is the aggressor, ever since it first launched the war on Karabakh.

Was it Azerbaijan that broke the ceasefire? Of course. No-one else has an interest in violating it. Karabakh may not be happy about the absence of a peace deal, but it certainly respects the armistice. It lives because of the status quo. Armenia would not want to see the contact line called into question, because objectively, it has a great many priorities to attend to other than renewed hostilities over Karabakh. Yes, objectively, only Azerbaijan stands to gain anything from such a move. That’s why it undertook it.

Azerbaijan wants to send the message that it is willing and able to go back to war over Karabakh. And that it is not alone. It’s no coincidence that Turkish President Erdogan stated that his country will « stand by Azerbaijan until the end». Azerbaijan would not have dared to attack on the scale of the last days without previous endorsement of its actions by Turkey. Turkey promptly legitimised Azeri actions by presidential statements. This is meant to be an impressive show of force against Armenians, in both Armenian states.

Turkey was one of the first state to recognize the Republic of Armenia’s independence. It nullified that decision when the Karabakh war broke out and closed its border with Armenia, which remains sealed until this day. Yet, there is a compelling case for Turkey to come to terms with Armenia and the Armenia-related elements of its past. Just like there is a will in Armenia to normalise relations with Turkey. All of this remains in jeopardy because a kleptocratic regime in Baku has taken a substantial part of modern Turkish normality hostage. Not even ethnic bonds justify such a state of affairs in the long run.

When the population of Karabakh, which at the time counted around 80 percent Armenians and 20 percent Azeris, decided in full conformity with the Soviet constitution that it did not want to be part of an independent Republic of Azerbaijan, but chose independence for itself, it did so without invading anybody. It would not have expelled its Azeri inhabitants either, who may have been some 40.000 at the time. No-one would have had to be displaced if Azerbaijan had decided to respect the Soviet constitution as well – the applicable text at the time, beyond reasonable legal doubt. Azerbaijan decided instead to go to war with Karabakh – and lost. This trauma haunts the Baku authorities until this day. And until this day, they keep the wounds open by refusing decent housing to the people displaced by the war which they themselves unleashed.

It is time for the international community to stop fooling itself. Karabakh will never return to Azeri rule. Not now, and not in hundreds of years. Every time Azerbaijan kills Armenians, especially civilians, as it has just done again, the resolve of the Armenians to remain outside of the scope of Azeri statehood is strengthened. It is time to end the lamentable silence of international community. The Minsk Group is supposed to prepare the ground for a definitive solution for Karabakh. So far, it has failed – for over twenty years. Reasonably, there can only be one solution. The international community must recognise the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh and stop treating it like a breakaway region from something else. Nagorno Karabagh is as legitimate as all other recognised states on the territory of the former Soviet Union – as legitimate as Azerbaijan, as legitimate as Armenia. This is the position that repeated and even constant Azerbaijani aggression calls for. Azerbaijan is a corrupt dictatorship with no respect for human rights. Karabakh is a democratic state where the rights of the individual are fully respected. It is easy to understand why anything short of independence is unacceptable to Karabakhi Armenians.

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  1. The question of who has violated the ceasefire is pointless because the conflict has never ceased for many years. Yes, Turkey supports Azerbaijan not only today but since 1988 when the conflicts started between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Don’t you think that Russians are playing the huge role in this conflict? After so many years of clash, why the conflict escalated today – when relationship between Russia and Turkey began to deteriorate rapidly. This conflict will never be resolved , until generation will be changed and detestation between nations become progressively weaker.

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