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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.

Eastern Europe

Unhappy Iran Battles for Lost Influence in South Caucasus

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Events that might not matter elsewhere in the world matter quite a lot in the South Caucasus. Given a recent history of conflict, with all the bad feelings that generates, plus outside powers playing geostrategic games, and its growing importance as an energy corridor between Europe and Central Asia, the region is vulnerable. 

This has been worsened by the two-year-long Western absence of engagement. In 2020, Europe and the U.S. were barely involved as the second Nagorno-Karabakh war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, leaving about 7,000 dead. With tensions now on the rise between Azerbaijan and Iran, Western uninterest is again evident, even though this might have wider ramifications for future re-alignment in the South Caucasus. 

The drumbeat of Iranian activity against Azerbaijan has been consistent in recent months. Iran is getting increasingly edgy about Israel’s presence in the South Caucasus — hardly surprising given Israel’s painfully well-targeted assassination and computer hacking campaigns against nuclear staff and facilities — and especially its growing security and military ties with Azerbaijan, with whom Iran shares a 765km (430 mile) border. Iran has also voiced concern about the presence in the region of Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries, who were used as Azeri assault troops last year.  

Much of the anger has been played out in military exercises. The Azeri military has been busy since its victory, exercising near the strategic Lachin corridor which connects the separatist region to Armenia, and in the Caspian Sea, where it has jointly exercised with Turkish personnel. Iran, in turn, sent units to the border region this month for drills of an unstated scale. 

This week, the Azeri and Iranian foreign ministers agreed to dial down the rhetoric amid much talk of mutual understanding. Whether that involved promises regarding the Israeli presence or a pledge by Iran to abandon a newly promised road to Armenia was not stated. 

Iran’s behavior is a recognition of the long-term strategic changes caused by the Armenian defeat last year. Iran has been sidelined. Its diplomatic initiatives have failed, and it has been unwelcome in post-conflict discussions. 

It is true that Iran was never a dominant power in the South Caucasus. Unlike Russia or Turkey, the traditional power brokers, it has not had a true ally. Iran was certainly part of the calculus for states in the region, but it was not feared, like Russia or Turkey. And yet, the South Caucasus represents an area of key influence, based on millennia of close political and cultural contacts. 

Seen in this light, it is unsurprising that Iran ratcheted up tensions with Azerbaijan. Firstly, this reasserted the involvement of the Islamic Republic in the geopolitics of the South Caucasus. It was also a thinly-veiled warning to Turkey that its growing ambitions and presence in the region are seen as a threat. In Iran’s view, Turkey’s key role as an enabler of Azeri irridentism is unmistakable. 

Turkish involvement has disrupted the foundations of the South Caucasian status quo established in the 1990s. To expect Turkey to become a major power there is an overstretch, but it nevertheless worries Iran. For example, the recent Caspian Sea exercises between Azerbaijan and Turkey appear to run counter to a 2018 agreement among the sea’s littoral states stipulating no external military involvement. 

The Caspian Sea has always been regarded by Iranians as an exclusive zone shared first with the Russian Empire, later the Soviets, and presently the Russian Federation. Other littoral states play a minor role. This makes Turkish moves in the basin and the recent improvement of ties between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan an unpleasant development for Iran — fewer barriers to the Trans-Caspian Pipeline threatens the Islamic Republic’s ability to block the project.  

This is where Iranian views align almost squarely with the Kremlin’s. Both fear Turkish progress and new energy routes. The new Iranian leadership might now lean strongly toward Russia. With Russia’s backing, opposition to Turkey would become more serious; Iran’s foreign minister said this month that his country was seeking a “big jump” in relations with Russia. 

The fact is that the region is increasingly fractured and is being pulled in different directions by the greater powers around it. This state of affairs essentially dooms the prospects of pan-regional peace and cooperation initiatives. Take the latest effort by Russia and Turkey to introduce a 3+3 platform with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well as Iran. Beyond excluding the West, disagreements will eventually preclude any meaningful progress. There is no unity of purpose between the six states and there are profound disagreements. 

Thus, trouble will at some point recur between Iran and Azerbaijan, and by extension Turkey. Given the current situation, and Iran’s visible discontent, it is likely it will take some kind of initiative lest it loses completely its position to Turkey and Russia. 

Author’s note: first published in cepa

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Eastern Europe

Right-wing extremist soldiers pose threat to Lithuania

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It is no secret that Lithuania has become a victim of German army’s radicalization. Could this country count on its partners further or foreign military criminals threaten locals?

It is well known that Germany is one of the largest provider of troops in NATO. There are about 600 German troops in Lithuania, leading a Nato battlegroup. According to Lithuanian authorities, Lithuania needs their support to train national military and to protect NATO’s Central and Northern European member states on NATO’s eastern flank.

Two sides of the same coin should be mentioned when we look at foreign troops in Lithuania.

Though Russian threat fortunately remains hypothetical, foreign soldiers deployed in the country cause serious trouble. Thus, the German defence minister admitted that reported this year cases of racist and sexual abuse in a German platoon based in Lithuania was unacceptable.

Members of the platoon allegedly filmed an incident of sexual assault against another soldier and sang anti-Semitic songs. Later more allegations emerged of sexual and racial abuse in the platoon, including soldiers singing a song to mark Adolf Hitler’s birthday on 20 April this year.

It turned out that German media report that far-right abuses among the Lithuania-based troops had already surfaced last year. In one case, a soldier allegedly racially abused a non-white fellow soldier. In another case, four German soldiers smoking outside a Lithuanian barracks made animal noises when a black soldier walked past.

Lithuania’s Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said later that the investigation was carried out by Germany and that Lithuania was not privy to its details. The more so, Lithuania is not privy to its details even now. “We are not being informed about the details of the investigation. […] The Lithuanian military is not involved in the investigation, nor can it be,” Anušauskas told reporters, stressing that Germany was in charge of the matter.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, German defence minister, said that these misdeeds would be severely prosecuted and punished. Time has passed, and the details are not still known.

It should be said Germany has for years struggled to modernize its military as it becomes more involved in Nato operations. Nevertheless problems existed and have not been solved yet. According to the annual report on the state of the Bundeswehr made in 2020 by Hans-Peter Bartel, then armed forces commissioner for the German Bundestag, Germany’s army “has too little materiel, too few personnel and too much bureaucracy despite a big budget increase.” Mr Bartels’ report made clear that the Bundeswehr continues to be plagued by deep-seated problems. Recruitment remains a key problem. Mr Bartels said 20,000 army posts remained unfilled, and last year the number of newly recruited soldiers stood at just over 20,000, 3,000 fewer than in 2017. The other problem is radicalization of the armed forces.

Apparently, moral requirements for those wishing to serve in the German army have been reduced. Federal Volunteer Military Service Candidate must be subjected to a thorough medical examination. Desirable to play sports, have a driver’s license and be able to eliminate minor malfunctions in the motor, to speak at least one foreign language, have experience of communicating with representatives of other nationalities, be initiative and independent. After the general the interview follows the establishment of the candidate’s suitability for service in certain types of armed forces, taking into account his wishes. Further candidate passes a test on a computer. He will be asked if he wants study a foreign language and attend courses, then serve in German French, German-Dutch formations or institutions NATO.

So, any strong and healthy person could be admitted, even though he or she could adhere to far-right views or even belong to neo-Nazi groups. Such persons served in Lithuania and, probably, serve now and pose a real threat to Lithuanian military, local population. Neo-Nazism leads to cultivating racial inequalities. The main goal of the neo-Nazis is to cause disorder and chaos in the country, as well as to take over the army and security organs. Lithuanian authorities should fully realize this threat and do not turn a blind eye to the criminal behaviour of foreign military in Lithuania. There is no room to excessive loyalty in this case.

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Eastern Europe

Lithuanian foreign policy: Image is everything

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It seems as if Lithuanian government takes care of its image in the eyes of EU and NATO partners much more than of its population. Over the past year Lithuania managed to quarrel with such important for its economy states like China and Belarus, condemned Hungary for the ban on the distribution of images of LGBT relationships among minors, Latvia and Estonia for refusing to completely cut energy from Belarus. Judging by the actions of the authorities, Lithuania has few tools to achieve its political goals. So, it failed to find a compromise and to maintain mutually beneficial relations with economic partners and neighbours. The authorities decided to achieve the desired results by demanding from EU and NATO member states various sanctions for those countries that, in their opinion, are misbehaving.

Calling for sanctions and demonstrating its “enduring political will”, Lithuania exposed the welfare of its own population. Thus, district heating prices will surge by around 30 percent on average across Lithuania.

The more so, prices for biofuels, which make up 70 percent of heat production on average, are now about 40 higher than last year, Taparauskas, a member of the National Energy Regulatory Council (VERT) said.

“Such a huge jump in prices at such a tense time could threaten a social crisis and an even greater increase in tensions in society. We believe that the state must take responsibility for managing rising prices, especially given the situation of the most vulnerable members of society and the potential consequences for them. All the more so as companies such as Ignitis or Vilnius heating networks “has not only financial resources, but also a certain duty again,” sums up Lukas Tamulynas, the chairman of the LSDP Momentum Vilnius movement.

It should be said, that according to the Lithuanian Department of Statistics, prices for consumer goods and services have been rising for the eighth month in a row. According to the latest figures, the annual inflation rate is five percent.

Earlier it became known that in 2020 every fifth inhabitant of Lithuania was below the poverty risk line.

Pensioners are considered one of the most vulnerable groups in Lithuania. In 2019, Lithuania was included in the top five EU anti-leaders in terms of poverty risk for pensioners. The share of people over 65 at risk of poverty was 18.7 percent.

In such situation sanctions imposed on neighbouring countries which tightly connected to Lithuanian economy and directly influence the welfare of people in Lithuania are at least damaging. The more so, according Vladimir Andreichenko, the speaker of the House of Representatives of the Belarus parliament, “the unification of the economic potentials of Minsk and Moscow would be a good response to sanctions.” It turned out that Lithuania itself makes its opponents stronger. Such counter-productiveness is obvious to everyone in Lithuania except for its authorities.

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