Andrey Kaspshik: "If a pink elephant appeared in Nagorno-Karabakh, it would be shot in"

08-06-2011 14:57:29   |   |  Interviews
IA REGNUM publishes an interview of Andrey Kaspshik’s ,the personal representative of the OSCE acting Chairman, in the sphere of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, given to Polish magazine Nowa Europa Wschodnia ("New Eastern Europe"). "For several years, you have been participating in peace negotiations to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Can you say that today we are closer to the solution of the problem than we were 10 years ago?" "Absolutely. Today we already know that it is impossible, so everything came to a rapprochement. It turned out that some of the proposed solutions were not likely to succeed. This applies mostly to those who would put a point over the "i": this or that country did not agree. A concept was proposed to leave Nagorno-Karabakh with broad autonomy conserved within Azerbaijan. However, the Armenians did not agree to this. There was also an idea of separating the region from Azerbaijan, but Azerbaijanis were against it. Once it was suggested to establish Azerbaijan-Karabakh common state, but it failed. The conception of land swaps has not been realized. As a result, before Heydar Aliyev's death in 2003, nothing has been changed in Karabakh issue. This conflict is still unresolved. First and foremost, it is necessary to minimize the threat of war. Co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group also agree with this, as well the Armenians and Azerbaijanis also see no other possibility. In this case, both sides, as a result of the negotiations, would like to receive as much as possible. It's a complex situation: the conflict looks like as a dynamite for the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia that will explode in case of false step.They may lose their positions, therefore, they should be more careful. It is obvious that they are trying to reflect as long as possible. Azerbaijan is in the advantageous position that has gas and oil, from which receives a large profit. Its military spendings are more than the entire budget of Armenia. In their turn, the Armenians occupy a much better position in the mountains, while the Azerbaijanis are deployed in the valleys." "What exactly has been achieved up to now?" "Since 2004, we have been moving in the direction of designation of general frames of the arrangement and in this regard much has been achieved. Consensus proposals were publicly declared to the presidents of the co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group that are France, Russia and the USA. They relate to the liberation of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh with the abandonment of the Lachin, the corridor linking it with Armenia, the return of refugees to the returned lands, as well as ensure of the safety by countries that can do it, that are, the members of the UN Security Council. Further, prior to the signing of the definitive peace that will happen after the referendum in the territory there is a question of interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh. The special status should not be significantly different from the status which Nagorno Karabakh Republic has at the moment. Iinternational acceptance of the interim education would be necessary at this time. After the adoption of the framework arrangements negotiations over the details will take place." "How?" "There are still many unresolved questions. For example: if you're talking about the corridor connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, it is known to remain.The Azerbaijanis officially agree to this. However, it is necessary to agree on details, that is, how wide this corridor should be, or who should control over it before signing the peace agreement. These specific issues often determine the safety, as it is seen by Armenians, or determine the issue of returning the territories, as it is understood by Azerbaijanis. The problem is also in the referendum, which the Armenians see as the prime voice of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh according to the 1989 census; at that ttime Armenians were almost three times more than the Azerbaijanis. Baku, in its turn, assuming Nagorno Karabakh as a part of its territory, refers it to its own Constitution, involving voting, covering the whole Azerbaijan. Therefore, a specific date for the referendum has not been spoken yet. As I've already said we are still trying to reduce the tension with the method of small steps caused by a feeling of unending war, a threat of which still exists. The Azerbaijanis always use the argument that unless the negotiations yield the expected results, they are ready to use force. Only patient negotiations can lead to an agreement. Currently, both parties do not agree, and they are negotiating on the following meetings. Such a solution, at least, does not lead to an armed crisis. With a view of asserting the ways of holding a referendum and determining the status of Karabakh, a separate committee is likely to be created, but it all happens after stress subsides. It is already clear that this conflict cannot be resolved in one fell swoop, because either one side or the other one will be dissatisfied." "Negotiations are conducted on the basis of three main principles of the Helsinki Final Act: no use of force or threat of force, the right of peoples to self-determination and territorial integrity. Are the last two principles mutually exclusive?" "We need to find a middle ground. If every region could be separated, then in Europe itself, we would have more than a dozen states (it is noteworthy that the way it is - IA REGNUM). Armenians commends the emergence of new states, when the others recognize their right to self-determination. The latest example is southern Sudan, earlier - in Kosovo. However, they fail to recognize Karabakh's independence. You cannot create new facts, while there are negotiations, it may be unsafe for them." "All the time we are talking about the requirements of Baku and Yerevan, not remembering the position of Nagorno-Karabakh. But he was also a party of the ceasefire agreement in 1994." "Yes, indirectly. We must remember that under the ceasefire agreement, however, there were Armenian, Azerbaijani and Karabakh signature, but on separate documents. The Azerbaijanis did not want to subscribe on the same piece of paper on which the representative of Nagorno-Karabakh did.The statements were sent separately by fax to the Precast and the Russian mediator countersigned them. Thus, Azerbaijan has escaped legal recognition of legal capacity of Karabakh, which up to now does not participate in the peace negotiations... The Azerbaijanis do not want somehow to indicate that they recognize Karabakh too independent. They say: "we can speak to Karabakh on what autonomy they want, but only when Armenian troops abandoned it. Meanwhile someone else's army is on our territory, it is a conflict between Armenia and us." "Does this mean that NK conferred powers to Armenia to represent him in negotiations, in which it cannot be involved? Do Armenia and NK speak in a unified voice?" "Armenia believes that unless Azerbaijan does not agree to talk with Karabakh, then it has no exit and must act on behalf of the residents of Karabakh, to help them. But nothing happens without the knowledge of Stepanakert, they are always informed and the positions are clarified, they have their contributions to that, around which negotiations are under way. When it comes to concrete results, Karabakh will have to take them." "Feel the Armenians of Karabakh and Armenia themselves as people of one nation?" "Yes, they feel. . Furthermore, the proof of this is the fact that both former and current presidents of Armenia come from Karabakh. If they felt difference, it would be difficult." "You're talking about the threat of renewed war. In this context, is it justifiable to call the Karabakh conflict "frozen"?" "Sorry, this conflict is not frozen, instead, its decisions are frozen. According to my estimates, over the last year as a result of violations of the ceasefire agreement 36 people from both sides were killed. Several times I have intervened in the situation when the use of fire could escalate into major conflict when preparing heavy weapons: artillery and tanks. I called then to Washington, Paris and Moscow, so that to try to stop them together." "What were the reasons?" "Different. A year ago, there has been such a situation: Azerbaijani soldier decided to become a hero and passed 60 meters : such distance separates the trenches of both sides. Armenians strengthened the positions, hence they have to clear the land partially. Azerbaijanis rushed into the Armenians' sanctuary, shot and killed four soldiers and as many wounded. Another Armenian shot him.The tension lasted for several months. Azerbaijan soldier was recognized as a national hero, a street and a school was named after him.There is much fear and it often leads to skirmishes between the trenches. At another occasion, the Azerbaijanis, reducing the distance between the lines of trenches, took up positions that threatened the pump supplying water to Armenian two villages. Armenians could not agree with it and started shooting. When monitoring the ceasefire line, I heard the whistle of bullets. If a pink elephant appeared there, it would be shot in , just in case." "And regardless of the peace negotiation process, whether the solutions of front-line commanders or unforeseen situations lead to a resumption of conflict?" "If such decisions on individual segments leads to tension, it is naturally can grow into something more. The commander at the time of threat will not listen to politicians, it will execute orders received before on defense position. He knows that he will be responsible if he does not do his best not to leave. As a battalion commander in his presencethere is a large caliber weapon, but in this case, indeed, it may be unsafe. "Is it favorably for Russia to preserve the status quo in the conflict on the principle of "divide and conquer" in the region?" "For Russia it is important to stress reduction. The entire Caucasus is mined, the explosion of the Karabakh war, even more destabilized the North Caucasus. In this case, the control over the borders, over the movements of arms and it could reach the movement of extremists. Moscow does what it can so that to prevent the spread of the things happening in Chechnya, Ingushetia or Kabardino-Balkaria. Russian conduct business in Azerbaijan, as well as in Armenia, thus avoiding a situation in which one of these countries will set the enemy to them. Black and white thinking of the fact ,that Russia supported Armenians,and Azerbaijanis Turkey, is too simplistic. "The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are considered to be hostages to their own citizens. Armenians are pressuring on the government to make it not to come to compromise in negotiations. In the meantime, if they agreed to concessions, it might be warming in relations with Ankara and the partial independence from Russia. Baku would have received benefit from the conflict, at least in the issue of increasing the country's investment attractiveness. Would it be beneficial for Azerbaijan and Armenia to abandon Karabakh and find peace?" "Of course. If you look at it purely from a pragmatic point of view, it would be advantageous for both sides .But unfortunately, this is an emotional topic. It will be impossible to manage. After 1991, there were two independent countries: Armenia and Azerbaijan. Previously, the short period between the demise of tsarist and Bolshevik intervention they were independent. Conflicts that already existed between them had never been solved. And now, when both states are again independent, boundary disputes flares again. Previously, these countries were part of the Soviet Union, and the population was mixed. Azerbaijanian village near the Armenian. Therefore, inevitably the question on boundaries - arose subsequently : by what river, through what hill they must pass. Fortunately, the Karabakh war, despite the fact that it was bloody, it was not a disaster: the two states could continue to build their independence. But the wound still festers. People were killed, the emotion has not subsided yet . Authorities will be happy to get rid of this concern, but thet do not know how. Their every mistake could be exploited in domestic politics. "Does the population of Armenia and Azerbaijan understand that loses when stretching a war? Why do not the politicians explain people that the war over Karabakh is not paid off?" "There are no voices of politicians, representing the issue in this way. You can constantly hear the slogan "We shall not give up any inch of land", and it still more pumps public sentiment. In addition, it is impossible that someone wanted to give up his territory. Frankly, this region is small, may be, even beautiful, but there was nothing but stones. It does not matter from an economic point of view." "And may be this conflict is a need for authorities? Society signed an agreement with the politicians: we will not look at you and you will win this war for us. Society is held in the fear." "Ther is no doubt, that the state in war conditions ceases to be a fully democratic state. Both presidents see the benefits arising from the resolution of the conflict." "That is, if we had a choice, we would have chosen calm, isn’t it?" "I think so."
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