Into the Fourth Week of Second Karabakh War: How did the war affect the conflict? (OPINION)

News.Az presents the article titiled "Into the Fourth Week of Second Karabakh War: How did the war affect the conflict?" by Vasif Huseynov, a senior adviser at the Center of Analysis of International Relations of Azerbaijan.

The Second Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues despite the humanitarian truce agreed upon through the mediation of the Russian government on October 10th.  Attacking the positions of the armed forces of Azerbaijan in an attempt to re-take the lands they had lost since the outbreak of hostilities, the Armenian government disrespected the ceasefire agreement and refused to comply with the Basic Principles, adopted in July 2009. 

Seeking to expand the geography of the clashes and provoking the Azerbaijani side, Armenia did not even shy away from attacking the civilian settlements of Azerbaijan situated far from the frontline. The missile attacks on the Ganja city of Azerbaijan on October 11 and 17 were the largest of its kind by the Armed Forces of Armenia since the start of the war. At least 60 civilians were reported killed and tens of others were injured as a result of Armenian attacks over the last three weeks.

Thus, against the backdrop of the violation of the ceasefire, the war is advancing into its fourth week, while it is not clear when and how it can be stopped. The three weeks of clashes between the sides, the loss of hundreds of military servicemen and destruction of weapons worth billions of dollars have, however, made significant changes to the conflict and the perceptions about this both in the conflicting sides and abroad.

First and foremost, the resumption of the hostilities and its edging towards a full-scale war have indicated that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the occupied territories of the latter is absolutely not frozen. This constituted a wake-up call to the international community who has long disregarded the occupation of twenty-percent of the internationally-recognized territories of Azerbaijan and the frustration of thousands of Azerbaijani IDPs and took the ceasefire between the sides for granted. The reaction of the international organizations and numerous states to the restart of the war was, therefore, seen as belated and rather unhelpful.

Secondly, the new war has also demonstrated that the Azerbaijani people will never reconcile with the occupation and will always be ready to sacrifice for the liberation of the occupied territories. Seemingly, there were people both in Armenia and abroad who thought that the Azerbaijani people would forget the war of the early 1990s and gradually characterize the occupation of the historical territories as a matter of the past. The Azerbaijani people, however, proved these assumptions to be wrong by unanimously supporting the position of the Azerbaijani government vis-à-vis the conflict and rejecting any agreement that would maintain the pre-war status-quo. It is important to note that even the opposition parties sided with the government and called for immediate liberation of the occupied regions.

Third, the new situation has also disclosed the realities regarding the Minsk Group of the OSCE, the main international mission tasked with the coordination of the peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. France, as a Co-Chair of the Minsk Group supported the position of the Armenian government and as such abandoned the neutrality which it was legally supposed to maintain as a mediator. This caused an extensive outrage in Azerbaijan and many people called the government to demand changes in the composition of the institution.

On the other hand, failing to push Armenia into compromise in accordance with the Basic Principles of the resolution, the Minsk Group has reaffirmed its ineffectiveness. This was a confirmation for the fact that the international calls to Azerbaijan to return to negotiations under the existing format are nothing more than the re-establishment of previous status-quo and the continuation of the occupation for the years to come.

It is, therefore, important for the international mediators to note that neither the Azerbaijani government nor its citizens will agree to wait for another 30 years for the de-occupation of the internationally-recognized territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This determined position is perhaps the most significant change that has been brought about by the Second Karabakh War.


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