Lessons of history on the sidelines of Munich conference

Organizers of the conference set the pace of public debates titled "Nagorno Karabakh Renovation".

However, renovation went wrong despite questions from the floor steering Premier Nikola Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev on the constructive course, their vision for perspective ways of the 30-years conflict resolution. It will suffice to mention that tactical digression from the renovation topic went to show that the parties were far from conclusion of peace treaty in the fashion of Peace of Westphalia that in 1648 that put an end to the 30-years war in Europe.

The point to be emphasized is that the parties made a retrospective journey into the history in an attempt to prove that Nagorno Karabakh had historically belonged to Azerbaijan or Armenia. In this respect, the two leaders looked like teachers of history rather than leaders of the countries waging latent, undeclared war with clouded prospects.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the discussions were bogged down in the past history, and an impression arose that the parties deliberately shied away from public exchange of views on their vision of conflict resolution. Here it is worth citing that the historical aspect in the system of Karabakh conflict resolution instruments is threadbare, particularly topical at the initial stage of the conflict where the two parties sought to substantiate pleas for justice by historical arguments.

Account has to be taken of the fact that the historical aspect of the issue gained a second wind last view where at an October summit of CIS heads of states and governments in Ashgabat President of Azerbaijan accused Armenia of German fascism glorification. What was meant here was the fact of erecting a monument to Armenian collaborationist Garegin Ter-Arutyunan (NJde).

It must be acknowledged that Aliyev’s attack was meant to emphasize a negative historical continuity in the Armenian policy. Note that Aliyev charged Premier’s predecessors with fascism bearing in mind killings and deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia and occupied territories. 

The public debates mentioned above are not a subject of closed talks between Pashinyan-Aliyev. Before the public discussions the two leaders held closed face-to-face talks which Munich conference participants were unaware of. In the course of 45-minute polemics Aliyev and Pashinyan didn’t say a word about their meeting nor aspects of closed reasoning.

Making references to parties’ emphasis on excursion into the historical domain, it can be affirmed that Baku and Yerevan rolled back in the negotiation process and actually left behind all earlier decisions achieved with the participation of international institutions within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Conference on Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

One must bear in mind that the closed aspect of relations left behind closed curtain by the Armenian Premier and the Azerbaijani President is indicative that the two leaders have something to hide especially as oppositions in Yerevan and Baku are charging the negotiators with inadmissible concessions and betrayal.

Added to this can be domestic tensions in the two countries caused by economic difficulties, growing public expectations and self-affirmation of new teams of Pashinyan and Aliyev.

It has to be kept in mind that Pashinyan is still engaged in struggling with former authorities, currently in opposition and away with its revanchist ideas. In turn, Aliyev is busy with personal reshuffling of the team after giving the sack to his old opponents from his father’s team. In other words, both participants of the Munich discussions will in the short term be engaged in addressing domestic issues and gaining public sympathies.

The essential point to remember is that Aliyev’s cheeky refusal from Pashinyan “mini-revolutions” offer may be taken seriously. Note that Baku has traditionally stood up for a stage-by-stage resolution as distinct from Yerevan standing up for package-resolution.

It should be remembered that a Pashinyan’s new initiative has actually been tied to the traditional Armenian strategy, so it may trigger Aliyev’s association with the Trojan horse. According to Pashinyan, mini-revolutions are none other than direct talks between Baku and Karabakh Armenians, social network discussions, mutual visits and other assortment of people’s democracy arsenal. It must be borne in mind that since 2003 Baku rejects Yerevan’s policy seeing attempts of occupied territories’ legitimization. 


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