EU and US clearly have strong interest in seeing conflict in Karabakh

  26 September 2017    Read: 3464
EU and US clearly have strong interest in seeing conflict in Karabakh

by Bahram Batiyev

The EU and the US clearly have a strong interest in seeing the conflict resolved as it would bring about greater regional stability and security. Restoration of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia would strengthen regional cohesion; it would open the way for enhanced regional cooperation in many areas. That said it does not mean that the resolution of the Karabakh conflict is a top priority for either the US or the EU because it is not. In particular, the Trump Administration has shown little interest.

When it comes to Russia the situation is a bit different. Russia, which traditionally considers the entire Caucasus its sphere of interest has been quite active in the negotiation processes, sometimes beyond the framework of the Minsk Group. Russia try’s to demonstrate that it is a conflict resolver, that only Moscow can get Baku and Yerevan to play ball. However, in reality, Russia is only interested in a settlement that will protect its geostrategic interests and objectives in the region. It wants to maintain control over Yerevan and Baku and the Karabakh conflict is an important instrument in this respect. The current balance of power in the Caucasus suits Russia: It keeps Armenia isolated and dependent on Russia, while Azerbaijan has limited room for maneuver. Moreover Russia continues to supply both Armenia (its strategic partner) and Azerbaijan with arms that are used in the conflict. While Russia would not like to see another full scale war, Moscow can live with a smouldering conflicts with the odd flash point as its serves its interests.

Regarding peacekeepers to be engaged in an eventual settlement this is something that could be carried out by the UN or the OSCE rather than the EU although clearly given the EU’s experience in the Western Balkans there are many elements and lessons that could be drawn on to support what would probably be a mixed mission of military and police. The composition of the mission would to a large degree depend on which states are ready to put forward personnel. Neighbouring states Turkey and Russia may not be included, although Russia would probably like to have its peacekeepers on the ground.

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