The report entitled “Nagorno-Karabakh’s Gathering War Clouds” shows the rapid increase of war danger and that the escalation can turn into large-scale military activities.
Nevertheless, there are experts who do not agree with the analysis of the report and believe that the "no war, no peace" can be maintained in the conflict zone for a long time, as long as the balance is not disturbed.
Olesya Vartanyan, Fellow at the International Crisis Group, Co-Author of Report, says that a rather hard work was conducted in preparing the report. More than 100 interviews were carried out in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh.
“We took into consideration many factors and came into the conclusion that the war risk is rather high. We talked to many experts, ordinary citizens and officials in all the sides. It turned out that since the April War of the last year, the parties strengthened their approaches. Azerbaijani side insists that in the case of the lack of progress in the talks, they are ready for new actions to return the lands, and the Armenian side says that they are ready for war and if it starts, they will not defend themselves but counterattack moving to the depths of the Azerbaijani territory,” Olesya Vartanyan said, adding that the resumption of hostilities and disposition “did not vanish, moreover, they have strengthened.”
She says that speaking about the war risk they tried to draw the attention of the international society to the problem.
Olesya Vartanyan, Alexander Iskandaryan, Director of the Caucasus Institute, Political Scientist, Stepan Safaryan, Director of the Center for International and Security Affairs, participated in a debate at Media Center on June 7, entitled “Why does the International Crisis Group Forecast a War Threat in Nagorno Karabakh Conflict Zone?”.
Alexander Iskandaryan believes that ICG report should be observed in two dimensions – narrative and analytic. “What concerns the narrative part very good and conscientious work was carried out. A database has been collected and it is well-presented,” he said.
On the other hand, the report limps from the analytical perspective. “Declares about war have always been in the ICG reports. I do not remember any case that they do not exist. Of course, there is a risk for war, but the report does not say how and with what mechanisms it can start. It says as there is the risk, the war can start but how, after what?” Iskandaryan said adding that the probability of large-scale activities in Karabagh is minimal after April war.
He said Azerbaijan prepares for war for 22 years, it spent from 20-30 billion dollars in 5 years but in April 2016 it initiated a local military escalation the goals of which were political not military. “Therefore, when talking about the real danger of war, the mechanism of its launch should be presented. When “war” is often repeated, no one would believe these predictions about the danger of war in the future. When one always says war and it does not happen, no one will believe these forecasts”, the expert says.
“April activities were well organized; it was well-planned, involving foreign experts. Moreover, the Special Forces were fighting. Their preparation is very expensive, as the training of pilots. At the same time, the result is known to all. This scenario is not a war,” the expert said, adding that “no war, no peace” situation can still sustain in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, as well as in other conflict regions.
“The war over Stepanakert was artillery training, then a tank attack. Tens of thousands of victims, social collapse, hundreds of thousands of refugees in Azerbaijan,” the expert said, adding that the Armenian side had Iskanders but did not use, like the Azerbaijani rockets.
April clashes showed the balance of forces in the conflict zone. “After that the balance was in favor of Armenia, and I cannot imagine large-scale military actions,” he said.
Stepan Safaryan talked about the probability of the involvement of Turkey and Russia in the cae of a war in Nagorno Karabagh.
He addressed a question to the co-author whether the forecast was based on concrete information from Turkey and Russia or they are just conclusions. The reply was that the forecast is based on the information received from Russian and Turkish representatives. Safaryan insisted that Ankara would not intermediate for the sake of Baku regardless the number of agreements they have.
He reminded that the Azeri side during the events of April no shots would not let border with Armenia. "It speaks to the fact that Azerbaijan is well aware of the consequences of aggression against Armenia. Baku now focuses on local escalation, "he said, adding that Karabakh is not the Middle East and has equal importance for Turkey, and Syria.
Safaryan reminded that during April war Azerbaijan made no shoots towards the border with Armenia. “It proves that Azerbaijan realizes the consequences of aggression against Armenia. Baku is concentrated on local escalation now,” he said adding that Karabakh is not Middle East and does not have the same significance for Turkey like Syria.
“Indeed, Turkey is Azerbaijan’s ally but I do not think that it will do that for Azerbaijan, particularly now when the relations with Russia are regulated. I do not think that Turkey will put its military interests and under a threat and will be involved in the conflict,” the expert concluded.
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