“I wanted to know what had really happened as Armenians and Azerbaijanis eventually fought a full-scale war, at great cost.But I searched in vain, and eventually decided to write the book I wanted to read.”
Thomas de Waal
The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and the Media Centre held a press conference followed by a panel discussion on July 2 to launch the revised and updated edition of Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War (2003) by Thomas de Waal.
The press conference and discussion took place at 1 pm on July 2, at the Media Centre.
Thomas De Waal, a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at the Carnegie Endowment, an acknowledged expert on conflict in the South Caucasus alongside with Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan were the keynote speakers.
Black Garden, a definitive study of the Nagorny Karabakh, is based on De Waal’s many years of covering the conflict, drawing on numerous interviews with actors on all sides, unique sources and archival records.
Translated into Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian, the book was hailed internationally as a meticulously researched and unbiased work. Among both Armenians and Azerbaijanis, it provoked debate and controversy.
De Waal notes that “broadly speaking, the book received a somewhat warmer reception in Azerbaijan than in Armenia”. “Armenians went through the book with a fine-tooth comb and criticized the use of this or that adjective or phrase,” he says.
Ten years after the first publication, with the Karabakh conflict still unresolved, De Waal decided it was time to update Black Garden.
“A lot has changed in the intervening decade, but the underlying grim “no peace, no war” dynamic of the past nineteen years is basically the same. With black humour, I would tell people that my working title for the new edition was Even Blacker Garden.” De Waal says in the introduction to this new edition.
“Much has been changed throughout the years past, but the most important is still unchanged. A lot is changing around the conflict, but the conflict itself is the same, moreover, the situation gets worse”, Thomas de Waal noted.
Alexander Iskandaryan thinks that the conflicts must be discussed. There will always be discontent people, but it is impossible to resolve the conflict by a book. “Tom’s book is useful. It doesn’t mean I don’t see any shortcomings. If there were 40 more similar books, we would discuss what is good and what is bad. Unfortunately, these books do not exist”, Iskandaryan said.
Iskandaryan added that OSCE Minsk group has done nothing for the regulation of the issue, and there is no country in the world where such issues are solved by consensus agreement, it especially concerns young conflicts as is the case with Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“There are enough resources to prevent the new war, but they are not enough for full conflict resolution”, Thomas de Waal is convinced, not excluding the possibility of war.
Iskandaryan is sure that a resumption of war is rationally not possible.
This event is part of IWPR’s Building Bridges/Building Capacity project, supported by the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.