Why Armenia and Azerbaijan Don't Make Concessions

Armen Hareyan's picture

Mutual concessions are necessary to resolve any conflict in a way to achieve lasting peace, but for Armenia and Azerbaijan it has not been possible to achieve for nearly 20 years. However, if it was easy, Israel and Palestine would have reached peace 40 years ago. How can Armenia and Azerbaijan achieve peace.

In a very revealing story one political scientist from Azerbaijan tells Azernews that neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan want to reach peace and explains why. Arastun Orujlu, the head of East-West research center, commenting on the recent meeting of the OSCE foreign ministers in Almaty, says both parties are reluctant to make mutual concessions because those concessions will have dire political consequences in both countries.

Orujlu says the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is at national level in both countries. Because it is at nationwide level, the conflict is also "a subject of political rivalry in some sense," he continues and concludes that making concessions can in reality trigger upheavals and dire political crisis in both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“Therefore, the sides are refraining from reaching a stage of signing a peace accord by various means,” Orujlu says predicting that in the foreseeable future he does not see the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Yet, the resolution is needed and above everything the region needs peace and the Madrid principles provide a good and fair opportunity to resolve the conflict and reach a peace accord between the two neighboring countries, which have almost everything in common, except religion.

If we put these Madrid Principles in a short sentence we will have the following. Nagorno Karabakh withdraws its troops and Azerbaijan recognizes its right of self-determination and the consequence of the referendum. While Armenia has stressed that it accepts these principles as a base for continuing the negotiations, Azerbaijan has repeatedly said on various levels of leadership that it does not see the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh as a possible outcome of the conflict resolution.

Armenia will not make the concessions and withdraw unless the future status of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is agreed. Azerbaijan does not want to discuss this issue because it thinks the independence of Nagorno Karabakh will mean its defeat in this conflict. In reality it is not.

In reality both Armenia and Azerbaijan are defeated by the conflict itself when there is no peace. There is no full realization of people's potential if there is no peace. If Azerbaijan cannot sell the Madrid Principles to its people, it needs to prepare its society about the future peace with a neighbor.

Leave everything and restore trust

It is much harder and nearly impossible to make concessions to "the other side" if there is no trust. Since the Minsk Group in its last statement in Almaty says the final decision rests with the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders then here is what the leaders can do.

If the society in Azerbaijan is not ready to see the independence of Nagorno Karabakh may be it is better to leave the negotiations aside and instead negotiate about restoring the trust between the two people. According to this scenario for about 5 years Azerbaijan can back down from its request of returning the 7 regions adjustment to Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia for the time being can back down from negotiating the status of Nagorno Karabakh. Simply put, just leave everything as they are now and deal with your own societies to restore trust in the next 5 years.

The image of enemy should be routed out. Bad things happens. People in Armenia and Azerbaijan are angry. Yet, let's look to the future. Do we want to stay in this anger or look beyond the this image of enemy and try to see what other future we can build together so neither Armenian nor the Azeri mothers are afraid that their children can one day die if another war breaks out.

Azerbaijan can open the means of communications. As a positive sign Turkey can do the same. People will slowly start trading and restoring trust. This may take years. Azerbaijan should not be afraid of opening the communications with Armenia. In case this scenario does not work, it can always close it and come back to the starting point. However, the hope is that after 5 years of trading and coming closer, people both in Armenia and Azerbaijan will care less about the future status of Nagorno Karabakh and instead focus on their future together. Let the people, who live in Nagorno Karabakh, decide what future they want to have and let the societies in Azerbaijan and Armenia applaud that decision.

Written by Armen Hareyan


Submitted by Azeri (not verified) on
"This may take years. Azerbaijan should not be afraid of opening the communications with Armenia. In case this scenario does not work, it can always close it and come back to the starting point. " It is not convincing. If the borders were opened and remained so for years, it would add to Armenia's resources. Plus, closing borders after so many years would be difficult because international community would not understand it. Fact is Armenia needs open borders significantly more than Azerbaijan does. Purely economically, Azerbaijan does not need Armenia. If Armenia wants to get something from Azerbaijan, it needs to pay something. The price is return of territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. Exchange of the surrounding territories for the status would not work. It means Armenia gives one thing (the surrounding territories) and gets two things (peace + status).

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