So long there is no peaceful co- existence prospects between the societies, it is unlikely that the Nagorno Karabakh (NK) conflict will resolve peacefully

By Ulvi Telmansoy

We often talk and discuss the Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, all the while thinking whether the conflict will find its resolution through peaceful or military means. Often we find ourselves reading news and updates with both countries blaming one another- for being not constructive with regard to the resolution of the conflict.

Something else however makes me wonder. Let us just think for a moment that the Karabakh conflict finds some kind of resolution- without blood shed and resorting to military power, with no loss of civilian lives, and the return of all those displaced people back to their homes.

In these new circumstances we have to acknowledge that there are Armenians living in Karabakh. Under these new conditions, Azerbaijanis and Armenians will become neighbors once again. They will now live in one community, area, or a city. I find it hard to imagine this. Just think of it, over the last 20 years since the conflict began new generations of Azerbaijanis and Armenians were born. These generations were raised hearing that Armenia is Azerbaijan’s enemy and visa versa. So it is interesting, how these people are simply going to forget and start living side by side? How are they going to live together once again? I think at its best its going to be very hard to adjust, and at its worst it wont be possible given the current circumstances.

Official sides declare their support of solving Karabakh conflict through peaceful means. But if the conflict is resolved through peaceful means, will people abide to this peace? Just in general, how ready are Armenians and Azerbaijanis and the NK community for peace? This is something worth thinking about. Especially as there are no concrete answers.

I think, reaching resolution of the NK conflict someday, won’t mean full resolution of the conflict. For the NK community to live in peace, first there must be peace established between the nations. And politicians should not be the only ones involved in carrying out this peace process work but civil actors should too actively get involved. Even if there will be a solution on paper, its going to take few years before displaced people would return to their homes. Peace keeping forces will have to function for several years in the region.

A little while ago, I addressed the following question to a political scientist and journalist Zardush Alizada “Do you think, carrying out peace work among the nations would affect the resolution of the conflict in the long run?” to which he gave the following response:

“People’s diplomacy cannot create peace by itself. However it could help in creating an environment that would demonstrate the good will from the two sides and replace anger. During the initial years of conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis it was actually civic activists like Arzu Abdullayeva, Anahit Bayandur and Karen Ohancanyan that helped with prisoner’s exchange and determined faiths of over 500 people. And it was the civil society that suggested “permanent status” and “road map” ideas that were placed later at the negotiation table”.

I then addressed another question: “How realistic it would be for both communities from Armenia and Azerbaijan to live together if the conflict is resolved and under which circumstances that would be possible?”

Alizada gave the following answer: “In 1905 Tzarist Russia organized the ‘Armenian- Muslim’ slaughter. Once it reached its aim, it silenced the carnage and settled the conflict. In 1918- 1920 the conflict erupted. After occupying the region, Russia once again settled the conflict. Nations once again lived in peace and good relations up until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then, Russia pushed Armenia to the battlefield playing on Armenia’s territorial expansion desire, conflict erupted, and the two nations forgetting about the peace engaged in animosity. And now, both Armenia and Azerbaijan are Russia’s slaves. Azerbaijan has oil and gas to continue the conflict. Armenia on the other hand doesn’t have its own resources to stand the war. These resources are provided to Armenia by so- called sponsors like Russia, US and the European countries. Once these countries reach their economic and geo- strategic mission, they will cut the support to Armenia and the conflict will end naturally. Armenians and Azerbaijanis will live in peace once again. As long as no another vicious states decide to meddle between these two countries and push Armenia to another insurrection.”

I want to believe that peace does come to the Caucasus at some point and establish itself in our region and all nations will live in peace here. I don’t know how realistic that is. Whether it is going to happen or not, but I want to believe in this. And if you tell me that “the two nations that once were in good relations have become enemies and that it wont be the same after the resolution of the conflict” then I would tell you this: “yes, indeed relations could become even better than they used to be. Just like Russians and Germans, French and English that too were enemies once”.

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