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Eastern Europe

Problematic solutions models and Nagorno-Karabakh

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The historical root of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute

The Nagorno-Karabakh war began in 1988 January and February, due to the Armenians irrelevant territorial claims, which lead to the occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani territories including Nagorno-Karabakh along with seven adjacent districts. Since January 1988, Armenians backed by the leadership of the USSR began the mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from their historical lands. In subsequent periods, there has been mass deportation, bloody massacre, and Khojaly genocide against the Azerbaijan nation. In later years, to prevent war Bishkek Protocol was accepted and it was a provisional ceasefire agreement that Russia brokered a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

To date, the ceasefire way has not been successful, as the goals of the two sides have not been met:

• Armenia occupied 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory, still demands independence for Karabakh

• Azerbaijan demands its right to self-determination, the end of  the occupation, and the return of Karabakh along with seven adjacent districts to Azerbaijan.

Illogical solution models left Nagorno-Karabakh conflict unresolved

What are the offers of three plans on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? In order to solve the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh, the co-chairs of OSCE Minsk group have given “proposals”.

Fig 1. Offered solution models for Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

The “package” solution plan was formed at the first meeting in Moscow (called Moscow meeting) of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs after the Lisbon summit;

I Stage according to Package proposal

•        Withdrawal of Armenian troops from the Azerbaijan territories outside Karabakh (except the “Lachin corridor”);

•        To achieve a return in stages of refugees to their former homes;

•        Deployment of peacekeeping forces and ending up the conflict;

II Stage based on Package proposal

•         To consider the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh

•         Primary agreement in conjunction with all of the disputable issues;

•        Gathering and then considering all of the arguable problems in the package model plan including Nagorno-Karabakh.

However, the model was rejected by the Armenian side, because the Armenian side was afraid of…

  • Successful “Energy and Nation Diplomacy” of Azerbaijan;
  • In subsequent periods it would be in favor of Azerbaijan;
  • Azerbaijan’s intentions and positions were right and fair.
  • Armenia doesn’t know exactly what it wants?! (NOTE: stick its head in confusion in face of Azerbaijan)

The Minsk Group co-chairmen offered a new solution plan called “the step by step” plan because of the failure of “the package” plan.

I Phase of “Stage by Stage” Proposal

  In initial periods…

 to sign a primary agreement;

 to achieve a return of six districts (Kelbajar, Agdam, Jabrail, Fizuli, Gubadli, Zangilan)  including Nagorno-Karabakh; (except for Lachin corridor)

A return of refugees to their former homes

To eliminate the blockade of Armenia in occupied territories

 II Phase of “Stage by Stage” proposal

  • In subsequent periods…
  • To conclude the second treaty;
  • To take into account the Lachin corridor combining Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh in favor of Azerbaijan
  • Giving Nagorno-Karabakh interim status within the supervision of Azerbaijan recognized by the International system.

The given proposal was an accurate approach towards Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan supported the legal prism and position of “the step-by-step” model-plan, as it was not a threat to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. However, the given plan was rejected by the Armenian side.

Aborted “Common state” proposal

The 1998 common state solution plan was reflected in the document entitled to an “an agreement on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was formed by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group on 7 November 1998. This plan was the idea of the former Foreign Minister of Russia, E. Primakov. The common state model was established per the resolution of the Transnistria and Abkhazia “problems”

In the common state model, the following were offered below.

  • To establish the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh within the borders of Azerbaijan, especially, forming a confederate system or a state surrounded by the territory;
  • Regarding the establishment of a confederate state, to create a “Special Committee” consisting of the representatives of both sides’ presidents, prime ministers, and parliaments to structure commissions and committees both in Baku and Khankendi (so-called absurd Stepanakert)
  • To set up and strengthen relationship with foreign countries, international and regional organizations through the mediation of proper representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Some special rights and privileges have to be given to Nagorno-Karabakh, at the same time, these privileges have to be recognized by Azerbaijan.
  • The forming of the constitution of Nagorno-Karabakh and to be accepted by its people (Which people, the so called Armenian people of this region?!)
  • An agreement on the States of Nagorno-Karabakh has to be illustrated in the constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and these documents do not collide with each other on the implementation of their affinities
  • To create its “FTZ” (Free Trade Zone) as well as its currency unit. By using both its own and Azerbaijani monetary unit for providing trade relationship in the territory

Common State Model was considered a “Stillborn alliance model” because, “the 1998 common state” model-plan was a huge step backward in comparison with “the package” solution method. According to the model, Azerbaijan would left behind and trampled down as a second country. Therefore, the Common State Plan is considered a void model, because it would lead to formalizing vast separation between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh by putting under threat Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights, which was opposed to Helsinki Final Act /2 out of 10 points/ sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty territorial integrity of States. It could be mostly inclined to weakening the positions of Azerbaijan in its ancient land – Karabakh. Therefore, the common state model was discarded by Azerbaijan, because of putting under threat Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights.

Other solution models? – Comparative analysis

It has to be noted that the models such as Aland, Trieste, Kosovo, etc. do not answer Azerbaijan’s aims and positions concerning Nagorno-Karabakh. Let’s investigate the Aland model as a proposed solution plan for the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Aland consists of a group of Islands around 6757 it is an archipelago. It is also called Scandinavian Karabakh. This island turned into a discord of apple between Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea. What is the fate of the Aland model for today?

–        Finland provided the security of the Swedish in this area,

–        Use of Swedish language in this area;

–        Mutual relationship between them, peace, security, and cooperation.

 What are the differences between Aland and Nagorno-Karabakh?

1. It did not happen or engender any bloody conflict or war in this area but, Nagorno Karabakh has observed many bloody wars, genocide, mass massacre, that Armenia committed those massacres against Azerbaijanis residing in Nagorno-Karabakh.

2. In some cases, it has been said that Aland Island would be given to Sweden, why because of its strong economic possibilities than Finland. If it is so, Nagorno Karabakh also has to be returned to Azerbaijan. As the country possesses not only large-scale economic, political, and social possibilities, and rich natural resources but also a strong nation and oil diplomacy as well!. 

 Take the Trieste model, which is the center of Julia-Venice’s autonomous province. It has got its emblem, flag, legislative and administrative bodies. Both Serbian and Italian monetary units are in process. It is possible to use both of them. It does have also an international treaty about FTZ. From the administrative aspect, it belongs to Italy, but a common city of both Serbia and Italy. So, from this perspective, this is not suitable for Azerbaijan first, it is not a territory model it is merely a city model. Besides, we do (Azerbaijani side) never accept Nagorno-Karabakh as a common or a joint area with Armenia. Because Karabakh is the ancestral land of Azerbaijan. From the international law, it is ostensible that breaching a country’s boundaries is a huge threat and international criminal against it. Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands directly contradicts the principles of international law. Armenia itself is well aware that Nagorno-Karabakh is and will always remain an integral part of Azerbaijan.

Ms. Nargiz Hajiyeva is an independent researcher from Azerbaijan. She is an honored graduate student of Vytautas Magnus University and Institute D'etudes de Politique de Grenoble, Sciences PO. She got a Bachelor degree with the distinction diploma at Baku State University from International Relations and Diplomacy programme. Her main research fields concern on international security and foreign policy issues, energy security, cultural and political history, global political economy and international public law. She worked as an independent researcher at Corvinus University of Budapest, Cold War History Research Center. She is a successful participator of International Student Essay Contest, Stimson Institute, titled “how to prevent the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons”, held by Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School and an honored alumnus of European Academy of Diplomacy in Warsaw Poland. Between 2014 and 2015, she worked as a Chief Adviser and First Responsible Chairman in International and Legal Affairs at the Executive Power of Ganja. At that time, she was defined to the position of Chief Economist at the Heydar Aliyev Center. In 2017, Ms. Hajiyeva has worked as an independent diplomatic researcher at International Relations Institute of Prague under the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Czech Republic. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral studies in Political Sciences and International Relations programme in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Eastern Europe

Latvia developed new tasks for NATO soldiers

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Member of the Latvian Saemas’ national association “Everything for Latvia!” and Freedom”/LNNK Jānis Dombrava stated the need to attract NATO troops to resolve the migration crisis. This is reported by la.lv.  In his opinion, illegal migration from the Middle East to Europe may acquire the feature of an invasion. He believes that under the guise of refugees, foreign military and intelligence officers can enter the country. To his mind, in this case, the involvement of the alliance forces is more reasonable and effective than the actions of the European border agencies. Dombrava also noted that in the face of an increase in the flow of refugees, the government may even neglect the observance of human rights.

The Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia at Camp Ādaži consists of approximately 1512 soldiers, as well as military equipment, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles.

Though the main task of the battlegroup in Latvia is country’s defence in case of military aggression, Latvian officials unilaterally invented new tasks for NATO soldiers So, it is absolutely clear, that Latvian politicians are ready to allow NATO troops to resolve any problem even without legal basis. Such deification and complete trust could lead to the full substitution of NATO’s real tasks in Latvia.

It should be noted that NATO troops are very far from being ideal soldiers. Their inappropriate behaviour is very often in a centre of scandals. The recent incidents prove the existing problems within NATO contingents in the Baltic States.

They are not always ready to fulfill their tasks during military exercises and training. And in this situation Latvian politicians call to use them as border guards! It is nonsense! It seems as if it is time to narrow their tasks rather than to widen them. They are just guests for some time in the territory of the Baltic States. It could happen that they would decide who will enter Latvia and who will be forbidden to cross the border!

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Eastern Europe

Changes are Possible: Which Reforms does Ukraine Need Now?

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Photo: Robert Anasch/Unsplash

The past 16 months have tested our resilience to sudden, unexpected, and prolonged shocks. As for an individual, resilience for a country or economy is reflected in how well it has prepared for an uncertain future.

A look around the globe reveals how resilient countries have been to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have done well, others less so. The costs of having done less well are almost always borne by the poor. It is for this reason the World Bank and the international community more broadly urge—and provide support to—countries to undertake economic and structural reforms, not just for today’s challenges but tomorrow’s.

One country where the dialogue on reform has been longstanding and intense is Ukraine. This is particularly true since the economic crisis of 2014-2015 in the wake of the Maidan Revolution, when the economy collapsed, and poverty skyrocketed. Many feared the COVID pandemic would have similar effects on the country.

The good news is that thanks to a sustained, even if often difficult, movement on reforms, Ukraine is better positioned to emerge from the pandemic than many expected. Our initial projection in the World Bank, for example, was that the economy would contract by nearly 8 percent in 2020; the actual decline was half that. Gross international reserves at end-2020 were US$10 billion higher than projected. Most important, there are far fewer poor than anticipated.

Let’s consider three reform areas which have contributed to these outcomes.

First, no area of the economy contributed more to the economic crisis of 2014-2015 than the banking sector. Powerful interests captured the largest banks, distorted the flow of capital, and strangled economic activity. Fortunately, Ukraine developed a framework to resolve and recapitalize banks and strengthen supervision. Privatbank was nationalized and is now earning profits. It is now being prepared for privatization.

Second, COVID halted and threatened to reverse a five-year trend in poverty reduction. Thanks to reforms of the social safety net, Ukraine is avoiding this reversal. A few years back, the government was spending some 4.7 percent of GDP on social programs with limited poverty impact. Nearly half these resources went to an energy subsidy that expanded to cover one-in-two of the country’s households.

Since 2018, the Government has been restructuring the system by reducing broad subsidies and targeting resources to the poor. This is working. Transfers going to the poorest one-fifth of the population are rising significantly—from just 37 percent in 2019 to 50 percent this year and are projected to reach 55 percent in 2023.

Third, the health system itself. Ukrainians live a decade less than their EU neighbors. Basic epidemiological vulnerabilities are exacerbated by a health delivery system centered around outdated hospitals and an excessive reliance on out-of-pocket spending. In 2017, Ukraine passed a landmark health financing law defining a package of primary care for all Ukrainians, free-of-charge. The law is transforming Ukraine’s constitutional commitment to free health care from an aspiration into specific critical services that are actually being delivered.

The performance of these sectors, which were on the “front line” during COVID, demonstrate the payoff of reforms. The job now is to tackle the outstanding challenges.

The first is to reduce the reach of the public sector in the economy. Ukraine has some 3,500 companies owned by the state—most of them loss-making—in sectors from machine building to hotels. Ukraine needs far fewer SOEs. Those that remain must be better managed.

Ukraine has demonstrated that progress can be made in this area. The first round of corporate governance reforms has been successfully implemented at state-owned banks. Naftogaz was unbundled in 2020. The electricity sector too is being gradually liberalized. Tariffs have increased and reforms are expected to support investment in aging electricity-producing and transmitting infrastructure. Investments in renewable energy are also surging.

But there are developments of concern, including a recent removal of the CEO of an SOE which raised concerns among Ukraine’s friends eager to see management independence of these enterprises. Management functions of SOE supervisory boards and their members need to remain free of interference.

The second challenge is to strengthen the rule of law. Over recent years, the country has established—and has committed to protect—new institutions to combat corruption. These need to be allowed to function professionally and independently. And they need to be supported by a judicial system defined by integrity and transparency. The move to re-establish an independent High Qualification Council is a welcome step in this direction.

Finally, we know change is possible because after nearly twenty years, Ukraine on July first opened its agricultural land market. Farmers are now free to sell their land which will help unleash the country’s greatest potential source of economic growth and employment.

Ukraine has demonstrated its ability to undertake tough reforms and, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen the real-life benefits of these reforms. The World Bank looks forward to providing continued assistance as the country takes on new challenges on the way to closer European integration.

This article was first published in European Pravda via World Bank

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Eastern Europe

Liberal Development at Stake as LGBT+ Flags Burn in Georgia

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Photo: Protesters hold a banner depicting U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan during a rally against Pride Week in Tbilisi, Georgia July 1, 2021. Credit: REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze

Protests against Georgia’s LGBT+ Pride parade turned ugly in Tbilisi on July 5 when members of the community were hunted down and attacked, around 50 journalists beaten up and the offices of various organizations vandalized. Tensions continued the following day, despite a heavy police presence.

On the face of it, the Georgian state condemned the violence. President Salome Zourabichvili was among the first with a clear statement supporting freedom of expression, members of parliament did likewise and the Ministry of Internal Affairs condemned any form of violence.

But behind the scenes, another less tolerant message had been spread before the attacks. Anxiety about this year’s events had been rising as a result of statements by the government and clergy. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili suggested the march “poses a threat of civil strife.” The Georgian Orthodox Church meanwhile condemned the event, saying it, “contains signs of provocation, conflicts with socially recognized moral norms and aims to legalize grave sin.”

For many, these statements signified tacit approval for the abuse of peaceful demonstrators. Meanwhile, the near-complete absence of security at the outset of the five-day event was all too obvious in Tbilisi’s streets and caused a public outcry. Many alleged the government was less focused on public safety than on upcoming elections where will need support from socially conservative voters and the powerful clergy, in a country where more than 80% of the population is tied to the Georgian Orthodox Church.

The violence brought a joint statement of condemnation from Western embassies. “Violence is simply unacceptable and cannot be excused,” it said. The Pride event was not the first and had previously been used by anti-gay groups. Violence was widespread in 2013 — and the reality of attacks against sexual minorities in Georgia remains ever-present.

In a socially conservative country such as Georgia, antagonism to all things liberal can run deep. Resistance to non-traditional sexual and religious mores divides society. This in turn causes political tension and polarization and can drown out discussion of other problems the country is marred in. It very obviously damages the country’s reputation abroad, where the treatment of minorities is considered a key marker of democratic progress and readiness for further involvement in European institutions.

That is why this violence should also be seen from a broader perspective. It is a challenge to liberal ideas and ultimately to the liberal world order.

A country can be democratic, have a multiplicity of parties, active election campaigns, and other features characteristic of rule by popular consent. But democracies can also be ruled by illiberal methods, used for the preservation of political power, the denigration of opposing political forces, and most of all the use of religious and nationalist sentiments to raise or lower tensions.

It happens across Eurasia, and Georgia is no exception. These are hybrid democracies with nominally democratic rule. Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and others have increasingly more in common, despite geographic distance and cultural differences.

Hungary too has been treading this path. Its recent law banning the supposed propagation of LGBT+ materials in schools must be repealed, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on July 7. “This legislation uses the protection of children . . . to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation . . . It is a disgrace,” she said.

One of the defining features of illiberalism is agility in appropriating ideas on state governance and molding them to the illiberal agenda.

It is true that a mere 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union is not enough to have built a truly liberal democratic state. Generations born and raised in the Soviet period or in the troubled 1990s still dominate the political landscape. This means that a different worldview still prevails. It favors democratic development but is also violently nationalistic in opposing liberal state-building.

Georgia’s growing illiberalism has to be understood in the context of the Russian gravitational pull. Blaming all the internal problems of Russia’s neighbors has become mainstream thinking among opposition politicians, NGOs, and sometimes even government figures. Exaggeration is commonplace, but when looking at the illiberal challenge from a long-term perspective, it becomes clear where Russia has succeeded in its illiberal goals. It is determined to stop Georgia from joining NATO and the EU. Partly as a result, the process drags on and this causes friction across society. Belief in the ultimate success of the liberal agenda is meanwhile undermined and alternatives are sought. Hybrid illiberal governments are the most plausible development. The next stage could well be a total abandonment of Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Indeed what seemed irrevocable now seems probable, if not real. Pushback against Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic choice is growing stronger. Protesters in front of the parliament in central Tbilisi violently brought tore the EU flag. Twice.

The message of anti-liberal groups has also been evolving. There has been significant growth in their messaging. The anti-pride sentiment is evolving into a wider resistance to the Western way of life and Georgia’s Western foreign policy path, perhaps because it is easily attacked and misrepresented.

To deal with this, Western support is important, but much depends on Georgian governments and the population at large. A pushback against radicalism and anti-liberalism should come in the guise of time and resources for the development of stronger and currently faltering institutions. Urgency in addressing these problems has never been higher — internal and foreign challenges converge and present a fundamental challenge to what Georgia has been pursuing since the days of Eduard Shevardnadze – the Western path to development.

Author’s note: first published at cepa

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