THE “BLACK GARDEN” OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY: NAGORNY KARABAKH AND THE POST-COLD WAR WORLD ORDER
Vladimir Priakhin, Ph.D. (Hist.), member, Russian National Committee for Support of the Club of Rome and Russian Association of International Research (Moscow, Russian Federation)
The “Frozen” Conflict
The words “kara bakh” mean the “black garden.” Regrettably, it describes the fruit the Azerbaijanian and Armenian nations have been reaping in the last 14 years in the Nagorny Karabakh “garden.” Among the regional conflicts in the CIS that attracted the world community’s close attention the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh is one of the largest where its political and humanitarian consequences are concerned.
Vladimir Kazimirov, the plenipotentiary representative of the president of the Russian Federation for a political settlement of the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh in 1992-1996, has pointed out: “The very name of the region has become a common name for all armed conflicts on the former Soviet territory (probably because it was the first, the longest, the fiercest and the least rational). It is also used to describe the conflicts in which blood has already been shed in different corners of Eurasia and those, which have just developed or continue developing.”1
The conflict clearly demonstrated that the Soviet nationalities policy had collapsed. It was also the first in a series of events that four years later undermined the Soviet Union. The consequences of the tragedy in Nagorny Karabakh are much wider than that: the conflict revealed the global problems of the existing world order and pointed to new challenges to the world security and to our civilization’s continued existence.
Besides its fierce nature, its large scale and its role in the world history as a detonator of a total collapse of the system of national relations that existed in the Soviet Union the conflict has something else that brings it closer to other conflicts on the post-Soviet expanse and elsewhere. It, and the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and as we see it, on Cyprus, in the Middle East and Northern Ireland have no prospects of being settled in the foreseeable future. This tragic lack of prospects suggested the term the “frozen conflict” to the OSCE. In this sense Karabakh has become the “black garden” of the Soviet nationalities policy and of the world order in general.
Looking into the Past
The conflict is rooted deep in the past and both sides can offer ample and fundamental legal arguments to support their claims. Prof. Audrey Altstadt,2 an American student of the problem, has correctly pointed out that both historical considerations and the arguments can play a counterproductive role and move those who try to settle the conflict away from the main goal: to ensure peaceful coexistence for all Karabakh people, whether Azerbaijanians or Armenians, in their common historical homeland.
Meanwhile an objective analysis says that there is no fetish of the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh. The area knew ethnic clashes in the past that were invariably settled when the balance of interests replaced the balance of forces. One of them, the 1920 conflict, happened within the living memory when “fire and iron treaded across Karabakh.”3 “After mad cruelties and total poverty the population seemed to preserve the bitter taste of shame. There is a collective agreement to push these memories back—nobody speaks of it, the past is sealed off with a full stop; all are stubbornly working and do not waste words; there is a passion for a revival. The Turks and Armenians who have been placed at the head of a small government are wisely steering the country toward this harbor of oblivion. As a result, the local economy is reviving as if created out of nothing because the budget of this small country is tragically small, the smallest in the Union… The small country is like a bird still sitting yet ready to flight.”4 This was what famous Soviet publicist writer Marietta Shaginian wrote about the cities of Stepanakert and Shusha after several years of cruelty and violence in Nagorny Karabakh.
One would think that the arsenal of peacekeeping has been widened many times over since that time. Yet today, 14 years after the events of 20 February, 1988 in Stepanakert that started another political crisis there is nothing like a “collective agreement to push these memories back.”
In an attempt to explain this we should go back to the above quote: Shaginian did not conceal the fact that the “Turks and Armenians” had been “placed at the head of a small government” by a decision of the Caucasian Bureau of the C.C. R.C.P. (B) of 5 July, 1921 that determined the status of Nagorny Karabakh within Soviet Azerbaijan. It was thanks to this decision that irrespective of the degree to which it heeded the interests of varied political forces in the region that Karabakh began its slow revival after the tragic events of World War I and the 1917 October Revolution. I want to say that a successful settlement of a military confrontation of two equal sides is impossible without an active involvement of a third force prepared to shoulder political responsibility for the remedy it applies.
In 1921, the 11th Army of the Red Workers’ and Peasants’ Army played the role of the third force. Its formula of peace among the Armenians and Azerbaijanians in Nagorny Karabakh and the Caucasus in general was not perfect in the same way as the Soviet regime was not perfect either. However, the truth is that this formula was maintaining ethnic peace and cooperation for 75 years. It was abandoned and this cost 30 thousand lives, huge material losses, and incomparable moral suffering.
In 1920-1921, success was achieved not because it was a Soviet formula of settlement but because it stood on the classical principles of peacemaking rooted in the history of ethnic relations and the general development laws of nature and society.
In his Eternal Peace Immanuel Kant, founder of classical German philosophy wrote that peace between neighboring nations was not status naturalis. What was natural was war either in a form of an incessant warfare or of a constant threat. From this it followed that peace should be established.5 This is especially true of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Demilitarization of both states and strict control by the Center that shouldered responsibility for peace and personal safety in Nagorny Karabakh were the only and natural answers to the problem of settlement between Azerbaijanians and Armenians in 1921. In fact, this is the remedy applied across the world—it was not invented by the Soviet nationalities policy. Stalin used it to bind together the multinational state he had built up and thus betrayed a fairly sober assessment of the situation.
In the 1920s, the benevolent neutrality or support of Turkey (that patronized Azerbaijan) was a sine qua non in which the Soviet republics in the Southern Caucasus could be created with a view to their subsequent inclusion in the Soviet Union (something that Stalin had in mind). Being completely aware of this and irrespective of his personal sympathies and antipathies of a Georgian he used Nagorny Karabakh as a small coin in his big strategic game. In his telegram to Georgi Ordzhonikidze of 8 July, 1920 he wrote: “I think that meandering between the sides cannot go forever. We should resolutely support one of the sides without vacillations. In this case, this is undoubtedly Azerbaijan and Turkey. I spoke to Lenin and he had no objections.”6
Why did he say: “undoubtedly”? Because this was prompted by the balance of forces in the region. It was impossible to create Soviet republics in the Southern Caucasus and to incorporate them later into the Soviet Union if Turkish interests and those of pro-Muslim forces were ignored. In fact, Bolshevik Stalin followed in the footsteps of Major-General Thompson, commander of the British forces in the Southern Caucasus, who back in April 1919 had sanctioned the joining of Nagorny Karabakh to Azerbaijan.
Having ceded the rich regions of Kars, Sarikamis, Olta, Kagizman, Kulp, Igdir, and others7 that used to belong to the Russian Empire Stalin managed to incorporate the Southern Caucasus into the future Soviet Union. Sorting things out with Turkey was postponed. It would have inevitably taken place had in 1942 Ankara joined the war on the German side. Providence and the Stalingrad victory saved Turkey from an imminent defeat that would have deprived it of the territories adjacent to the Southern Caucasus in favor of Armenia and Georgia.
It should be said in all justice that there were politicians in Soviet Russia who tried to delineate the states within the boundaries of the former Russian Empire in accordance with geographical distribution of ethnoses. One of such politicians was Georgi Chicherin, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. On 4 July, 1920 he signed an instruction to the Revolutionary Military Council of the Caucasian Front that obliged the commander of the 11th Army of the Red Army to explain to the local population that “the Russian troops were occupying the territories to prevent ethnic strife and that this occupation was a temporal measure until it was decided whose territories they were. The territorial conflicts would be settled by a mixed commission chaired by a Russian representative and it would guide itself by the population’s ethnic composition and its will”8 (italics mine.—V.P.).
Chicherin’s idealistic line totally coincided with the ideals of national and social justice of which the founders of scientific communism had written a lot. This line, however, went against the realistic and completely sober imperialist policies pursued by Stalin. According to it, administrative delineation had nothing to do with ethnic and historical realia and was aimed at a political consensus (balance) that would ensure stability within a unified multinational state, the U.S.S.R.
It should be said that Stalin had hardly invented any new political criteria of state and administrative delineation. Before him, too, state borders had been altered “in a waltz” like it happened at the Vienna Congress of 1815. It is next to impossible to draw state borders according to geographical boundaries of ethnoses: such boundaries that are very hard to identify stir up heated debates. It seems that it would be more realistic and more just to liquidate all state frontiers and recognize equal rights of all citizens of the Earth irrespective of their ethnic affiliation and social status. So far, the existing state or administrative borders in places where debates are most heated (Nagorny Karabakh is one of them) can exist only if supported by a third force.
In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks played the role of a third force in the region. The Bolshevik Party, too, had to follow the real alignment of forces and the changes of political situation in the South Caucasian countries and regions. This was why Nagorny Karabakh changed hands several times during a very short period while Soviet power was asserted: before 1918 it, together with a large strip of what today is Azerbaijan, was part of the Elizavetpol9 gubernia of the Russian Empire. It is hard to say whether the gubernia was Azerbaijanian or Armenian. Between May 1918 and June 1920 Karabakh and Azerbaijan were locked in an armed conflict. It was at that time that the League of Nations recognized Karabakh as a disputed territory the state of which was to be decided by a peace conference. This status remained unchanged when the 11th Army established its control over the area.
By late 1920, it had become clear that the changing fortunes of political struggle in the Southern Caucasus and the Civil War demanded wide-scale propaganda efforts to attract the popular masses to the Bolsheviks. Stalin knew that to succeed the Armenian Bolsheviks needed a trump card. On 4 December, 1920 he supplied them with it in a form of an article in Pravda in which he outlined the concessions Soviet Azerbaijan was prepared to make in favor of Soviet Armenia.
“On 1 December, 1920,” wrote he, “Soviet Azerbaijan voluntarily abandoned its claims to the disputed provinces and declared a transfer to Soviet Armenia of Zangezur, Nakhchivan, and Nagorny Karabakh.”10 On 4 July, 1921 the Caucasian Bureau of C.C. R.C.P. (B) confirmed this by passing a decision “to include Nagorny Karabakh in the Armenian S.S.R.”11
On 5 July, 1921, however, after a long and dramatic discussion in which Stalin took part the Caucasian Bureau decided: “In the interests of national peace between the Muslims and the Armenians and to preserve economic ties between Upper and Lower Karabakh, and its constant contact with Azerbaijan Nagorny Karabakh should be preserved within the AzS.S.R. with wide autonomous powers. Its administrative center will be in the city of Shusha that is part of the autonomous region.”12 Under the 1921 territorial arrangement the Shaumianovsk and Lachin districts of the Azerbaijanian S.S.R. were included in Nagorny Karabakh.
The point is too sensitive to discuss whether it was “just” or “unjust”—I can only say that in this case the criterion of justice was not applied. The decision was a political one. No references to referendums and congresses supplied by the sides can clarify the situation. The lengthy process of deciding the future of Nagorny Karabakh says that within the Soviet nationalities policy it was used to buy Azerbaijanian loyalty.
Those who shaped the nationalities policy of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) believed that Armenia that was living under constant Turkish threat “had nowhere to go.” Stalin was creating good relationships with Turkey to promote the Soviet nationalities policy.
Later, Semen Budenny, the legendary commander of the First Cavalry Army of the Red Army, wrote in his memoirs that at that time he had failed to grasp the meaning of Stalin’s order to give up Batumi to Turks. He had incurred Stalin’s obvious displeasure when he disobeyed and occupied the city. Meanwhile the Batumi directive was a logical part of Stalin’s policy of strengthening the Soviet state. By abandoning Batumi he probably hoped to tighten the ties with his strategic partner Kemal Ataturk, to scare the Georgians and Armenians with the Turkish threat, and to show that Soviet power and their future incorporation into the Soviet Union were their only shield.
Back to the Southern Caucasus of the 1920s… The decision of the Caucasian Bureau of the C.C. R.C.P. (B) that separated Nagorny Karabakh from Soviet Armenia was undoubtedly of a pro-Azerbaijanian nature and fitted perfectly into Stalin’s policy of friendship with Turkey and its supporters in the Soviet state. The Armenian side was lavishly rewarded from the common Soviet stock with appointments to high posts of national importance and economic aid—traditional means of Stalin’s nationalities policy.
Armenia was the only Soviet republic that attracted many members of its diaspora. Armenians returned even from France and other developed countries. Undoubtedly, they were patriots but they were also attracted by high living standards in Armenia as compared with other union republics.
The conflict over Nagorny Karabakh was unfolding as an “anti-Soviet” movement of the Armenian bourgeois nationalists against the “pro-Soviet” Azerbaijanian authorities in Baku because it was Soviet power that had transferred the region to Azerbaijan. Even in Armenia this movement did not enjoy a whole-hearted support. In Azerbaijan where the nationalist underground movement in Karabakh (liquidated but not disheartened by the KGB of Azerbaijan headed by Heydar Aliev in 1967) it was another factor that preserved more loyalty among the common people to Soviet power than in Armenia despite the frenzied efforts of the enemies of the Soviet Union.
Naturally enough, at all times Nagorny Karabakh remained a potential seat of ethnic contradictions. They became obvious when the third force, the Union Center that had been preserving political balance in the region, weakened.
Where Are Pacificators of Today?
If all that is needed for a settlement in Karabakh is a respected and fairly powerful intermediary then one might wonder: can it be found? The settlement has already acquired an international mechanism that like all other mechanisms of this sort takes into account the objective interests of the world community and the conflicting interests of individual states.
So far, the complex combination of these interests has not yet produced the leading force capable of urging the sides to show more flexibility, to oblige them to fulfill reasonable conditions of a possible political settlement, to guarantee its observance by both sides and to render an adequate assistance to the war-ruined economy.
In the 1920s, Soviet Russia assumed this role while actively cooperating with Turkey. The active nationalities policy that took local conditions into account; considerable military potential; rich diplomatic legacy of czarism propped by Soviet fairly flexible diplomacy that allowed Soviet Russia to keep the great powers away from the southern approaches to the Southern Caucasus through an alliance with Turkey that had lost the war; an ideology of social and national equality that was advanced at that time helped Soviet Russia promptly stabilize the situation.
The South Caucasian nations flattered with the promotion of their compatriots (Stalin, Mikoian, Narimanov) to the highest posts in Soviet leadership and having felt the strong hand of the Center quickly recognized its power and achieved a lot during Soviet times.
Today, the situation is different. Russia is weakened by a deep political and economic crisis. While the devastation of the 1920s was compensated with a powerful ideological expansion that drew to the side of the Bolsheviks the broad exploited masses of the East and the Southern Caucasus by the early 21st century Russia was left without allies in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. There are few old communist supporters of Russia and they have no power. Their potential allies in Moscow have no power either and have no prospects, as far as one can see, of regaining their former monopoly on power. The new nationalist leaders in the region and their young supporters are mostly looking at the wealthy Western democracies. Yet they will be waiting in vain for an involvement in the South Caucasian affairs equal to that demonstrated by Russia in the 1920s. Neither the U.S., nor Britain, nor Germany, nor any other Western country is willing to send numerous armies to the region, to pacify the mutinous Azerbaijanian and Georgian provinces and to pour billions of dollars into their national economies. They do not need an aircraft plant in Tbilisi, or the petrochemical industry of Azerbaijan, or electronic goods from Armenia. As before, during World War II, today they need the local raw materials and look at the Southern Caucasus as a strategically important link between the West and the East that connects the Atlantic European shore with the Asian Pacific Region.
The United States is obviously interested in securing certain military-political positions in the area partly by its active involvement in the Karabakh settlement. The U.S. will not find it an easy task. First, the American taxpayers will hardly approve of an involvement in a conflict settlement that may claim American lives in a far-away place. Second, even this rich country may find a settlement too dear to achieve because all the sides will be insisting on numerous concessions. Third, it is hard to identify where military force should be applied during a peace settlement.
All previous peacekeeping actions that involved the United States and NATO (in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, etc.) proceeded from the “presumption of culpability” of one of the sides: in cases of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo the Serbian community was appointed the culprit. Irrespective of whether the choice was a just or an unjust one, military interference was based on it and brought political stability, even if somewhat conventional.
In Nagorny Karabakh neither the U.S. nor any other potential peacemaker can select the culprit at random. If they side with the Armenians Baku will be set dead against them and deprive them of the hope that they will participate in developing the oil riches of the Caspian. If they prefer Baku the peacemakers will attract the ire of the influential Armenian diaspora. The Turkish experience has amply demonstrated that none, even the largest country, can afford this.
In these conditions it is wise to invite an influential international organization able to present the interests of the international community in the region and reach a just settlement with due account of the legal interests of all sides.
It seems that the OSCE is the best option. As distinct from all other international structures it officially placed human rights above the interests of individual states and by the same token placed itself above the traditional international rivalry for the spheres of influence and promotion of economic interests. The OSCE unites all large countries that possess huge military and economic potentials. Finally, it concentrates diplomatic services and academic schools with conflict preventing and peacemaking expertise. Realization of these prerequisites, however, turned out to be far from simple.
The OSCE and Karabakh Settlement
The OSCE emerged in the forefront of the conflict’s settlement due to a natural course of events. When the Soviet Union disappeared the hopes were pinned on the OSCE. It was expected to provide effective intermediation during peace talks and subsequent monitoring of the future agreement on a full-scale political settlement. However, the Nagorny Karabakh context, like all other problems addressed by international organizations, shed light on the convulsions of the world order at the turn of the millennium. Unfortunately, the OSCE has not yet become (and is very far from becoming) a voice of the international democratic public of the most industrially developed part of the world. Its position on all most urgent problems, of which the Karabakh conflict is one, can be described as a resultant of many political factors in any definite period of time.
One has to say that a group of “grandees” (in which the U.S. and the EU members dominate) plays the key role in this organization when it comes to conflict settlement. Russia is heard when the question under discussion directly affects its interests while all other OSCE members discuss those political problems that are directly related to them. On all other issues they side with the European Union and with certain political combinations such as the Vishegrad Group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) and the GUUAM.
This balance is clearly demonstrated by the OSCE involvement in the Kosovo settlement and by the fact that the key posts in it are filled with citizens of the NATO members or the most active claimants to such membership. Late in 2001, out of 1,199 posts in the missions and other structures 504, or 42 percent, were placed in conflict or potentially conflict zones: 184 posts were filled with U.S. citizens; 136, with German, 109 with British, and 75 with French citizens. These countries cover 42 percent of the OSCE budget with their fees that shows that the organization has found itself in considerable structural disbalances that creates other disbalances (the functional and the geographic ones). By this is meant that the organization scrutinizes the human dimension mainly in the post-Soviet and post-Yugoslavian countries and that it sometimes disregards the interests of the subjects of such scrutiny.
It seems that the main OSCE countries do not always work toward stability in the conflict regions. The “managed instability” conception is the key to their position: strengthening their political and economic positions, rather than stability is their main aim. Prof. Michael Mihalka, prominent American specialist in the questions of international security, has supplied a clear description of this conception: “Some commentators have credited the relatively peaceful disintegration of the Soviet empire to the CSCE13 process because of its promotion of the ‘human dimension.’ Thus security, at least in the CSCE context does not necessarily mean stability. At best, any new security model based on CSCE principles can only provide a kind of managed instability. This becomes apparent when considering the current sources of stability and instability within Europe.”14
If Prof. Mihalka is right and since there is at least a share of truth in what he has said then the “main states” are working not toward a political settlement in Nagorny Karabakh but toward influencing this settlement so that to promote their geopolitical and strategic positions in the Southern Caucasus.
The Role of Russia in International Ceasefire Efforts in Nagorny Karabakh
Due to the above factors the active phase of the conflict (between 1991 and 12 May, 1994) when Azerbaijan and Armenia used their armed forces betrayed certain elements of rivalry between Russia and the OSCE over the leading role in the peacemaking process. To be exact, this was not a rivalry but rather the failed attempts of the “grandees” to capture the initiative.
Unable to influence the situation in the region the United States, Germany, and other “grandees” acted through the OSCE in an attempt to join Russia’s mediation efforts. The Budapest summit of the OSCE held in 1994 “strongly endorsed the mediation efforts of the CSCE Minsk Group and expressed appreciation for the crucial contribution of the Russian Federation and the efforts by other individual members of the Minsk Group.”15 With these words the world community expressed its appreciation of the results of four years of persistent talks when the Russian peacemakers had to persuade the sides to demonstrate their will for cooperation for the sake of saving the lives of thousands of their own citizens.
The years 1991-1994 marked a sort of a transition period when there was no longer a powerful Center responsible for the stability in Nagorny Karabakh and between Azerbaijan and Armenia (independent states since 1991) inside the Soviet Union and outside it. In that period the sides were still looking at Russia with hope as the great power closest to them that still realized what should be done but had been deprived of political will and material resources to realize possible peacekeeping plans.
On the other hand, the states that “won” the Cold War possessed considerable peacemaking potential but knew next to nothing about the region and lacked the necessary experience. For example, Altstadt has written that the U.S. intelligence community well aware of all details of the Kremlin life proved to be unprepared for procuring information in the former Soviet republics.16
Amid euphoria created by stormy democratic developments in Russia and because of an absence of Western resources to actively interfere in peacemaking on the post-Soviet territory Russia briefly was holding a carte blanche supplied by the international community for peacekeeping in the former Soviet republics. Since Russia was obviously unable, for political and economic reasons, to cope with the mission single-handedly the West was seriously discussing possible material and technical support in the sphere.17 I am convinced that this would have opened the road toward a real settlement.
This period was a short one. The first Chechen war that started a week after the Budapest summit convinced the West that Russia was not too weak to protect its legal national interests.
The discussion of the Karabakh problem at the Budapest OSCE summit of 1994 demonstrated that the “main countries” feared Moscow’s greater involvement in the settlement that could have boosted its influence in the Southern Caucasus as a whole. This was why the summit steered toward a collective settlement effort with which the Russian delegation fully agreed.
The Chairman-in-Office was empowered to set up in Vienna a High-Level Planning Group “to make recommendations on, inter alia, the size and characteristics of the force, command and control, logistics, allocation of units and resources, rules of engagement and arrangements with contributing States.”18
“On the basis of such preparatory work and the relevant provisions of Section III of the Helsinki Document 1992, and following an agreement and a formal request by the parties to the Chairman-in-Office through the co-chairmen of the Minsk Conference, the Permanent Council will take a decision on the establishment of the CSCE peacekeeping operation.”19
Despite the fact that the abovementioned relevant provisions of Chapter III of the Helsinki Document 1992 were extremely weak and presupposed that peacekeeping operations could be conducted only with an agreement of the directly involved sides and without coercive measures the very possibility of setting up OSCE own military groups was of a revolutionary nature. This was a real step toward the organization’s system-forming role in shaping a new system of international security in the post-Cold War world.
On 20 December, 1994 the High-Level Planning Group was set up in fulfillment of the decisions of the Budapest Summit. Though the documents made no mention of this had the events unfolded according to the Budapest script the HLPG might become an analogue of the Military Staff Committee accountable to the U.N. Security Council and would have even reached a higher level. This would have created a real possibility of setting up a military staff structure under the OSCE. In future, this initiative might have replaced all military peacekeeping mechanisms acting between Vancouver and Vladivostok, including NATO and the EU. These prospects, however, did not suite the “grandees’” political aims.
Real Roads to Settlement
The good intentions expressed in the document of the OSCE Budapest Summit remained on paper for many reasons including the sides’ refusal to cooperate, the problem’s objectively complex nature, and domestic instability in Azerbaijan and Armenia, etc. The main factor, however, was the OSCE’s failure to develop into an efficient mechanism of realization of the international community’s political will to maintain stability and achieve a just settlement of regional issues. It should be said that so far there are no alternatives to the Budapest Summit’s decisions, therefore they should be fulfilled. What is needed is detailed and painstaking negotiations designed to achieve an all-embracing agreement; efforts should be made to dispatch an international peacekeeping contingent of the OSCE to the conflict zone.
One cannot exclude a possibility that in future this organization will finally arrive at a conviction that a peacekeeping operation is necessary. This will involve a revision of Points 22 and 23 of Section III of the Helsinki decisions of the OSCE summit related to early warning and prevention of conflicts and crisis settlement by adding to them new provisions about peace enforcement. The present OSCE procedures that require consensus will make it hard to pass this radical decision.
If these barriers that are more than mere procedural obstacles are overcome a successful peacekeeping operation will become probable. In case of need, it could be extended to demilitarization of all sides of the conflict and probably of the adjacent districts of the sides’ neighbors if they are satisfied with security guarantees. At the same time, an international police contingent should be moved to Karabakh territory to maintain public order, protect civil rights and the key freedoms of those living in Karabakh and other victims of the conflict (registered by 20 February, 1988). This operation could include the return of the refugees (Armenians and Azerbaijanians), and compensations to the victims of ethnic purges on both sides of the dividing line. The area will need new ethnically mixed self-administration bodies based on the European standards and norms. As soon as the structure of power was restored economy and transport, including international communication lines running across the area, could be revived.
Today, the talks have been running against a dead-end of the status and state affiliation of Nagorny Karabakh, therefore the question should be removed from the agenda till more suitable times.
Objectively speaking this is quite possible if we take into account the largest OSCE members’ potentials, yet such decision requires something much more valuable than their joint investments and material support: it calls for the international community’s common political will based on generally shared moral principles.
This will and these moral principles are taking shape now, partly within the OSCE. Its members are coping with practical tasks: how to prevent conflicts and affirm the principles of the rule of law. There are several factors that interfere with the process, the major of them being continued rivalry for political domination and the local energy sources.
It is generally believed that the state that will make the largest contribution to the Karabakh settlement will considerably strengthen its political and economic positions in the Caucasus (the region of key importance especially where the Caspian oil transportation routes are concerned).
This approach pushes back the major aim—a just settlement of the conflict—and pushes another aim to the fore—to prevent any one-sided peacekeeping efforts of any great power.
This is applied, first and foremost, to the Russian Federation. However, other states are also drawn in this rivalry (France and Germany, for instance, which were competing for a co-chairmanship in the Minsk Group). Turkey is very active in the region. It acts on the side of Baku and arouses Greece’s jealousy that is coping with similar problems on Cyprus and is prepared to cooperate with Armenia.
This transformed an ethnic conflict over a tiny territory in the Biblical lands where Noah had been looking for a place to get out of the ark into a large regional problem that left its imprint on the interests of dozens of states and the international community as a whole.
* * *
Many researchers are convinced that the Karabakh conflict and other regional problems were “frozen” because of increasing instability and the changing political and military structure of the world order. Guided by this, experts in Russia and abroad believe that we are watching how the Westphalian system (a state-centrist international model, which rests on the idea of a nation-state as the key subject of international relations) is being replaced. In the conditions when the state is being destroyed (as one of the elements of the current global crisis) the role of nongovernmental organizations, on the one hand, and international organizations, on the other, is gaining importance.20
There is another opinion: some analysts ascribe the accelerating centrifugal tendencies in the world order to another global trends, that of the diffusion of power.21
I believe that both groups are right yet their ideas do not reflect the problem’s entire range: the level of thinking and the international community’s degree of organization are trailing behind the qualitatively new developments in science and technology at the turn of millennia. This gap is growing wider.
Today, when probing deep into the Karabakh conflict we can see that its specific features apart it (like any other local conflict on the post-Soviet territory and elsewhere) contains universal elements that make these confrontations varied manifestations of one thing—a global crisis of human civilization. To overcome it mankind has to ascend to a new level of organization and to abandon state rivalries for the spheres of influence and world leadership typical of the old state order.
1 V.N. Kazimirov, “Karabakh. Kak eto bylo,” Mezhdunarodnaia zhizn, No. 5, 1996, p. 41.
2 See: Audrey L. Altstadt, “O Patria Mia: National Conflict in Mountainous Karabagh,” in: Ethnic Nationalism and Regional Conflict. The Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, ed. by Duncan W. Raymond and Holman G. Paul, Jr. Westview Press, Boulder, Co, U.S.A., 1994, p. 112.
3 M. Shaginian, Nagorny Karabakh, Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo Publishers, Moscow, Leningrad, 1927, pp. 4-5.
5 See: I. Kant, Sochinenia v shesti tomakh, Vol. 6, U.S.S.R. AS, Institute of Philosophy, Mysl Publishers, Moscow, 1965, p. 266.
6 Central Party Archives at the C.C. C.P.S.U., rec. gr. 558, inv. 1, f. 4018, sheet 1 (telegraph form).
7 Quoted from: Nagorny Karabakh v 1918-1923 gg. Collected documents and materials, ed. by V.A. Mikaelian, AS of Armenia Publishers, Erevan, 1992, p. 640.
8 Archives of the C.C. C.P.S.U., f. 44-3/3-a, sheets 67-71.
9 This city was Kirovobad during Soviet power; today it is Gianja, known as Ganzak in Armenia.
10 I.V. Stalin, “Da zdravstvuet Sovetskaia Armenia,” Pravda, 4 December, 1920.
11 Protocol No. 11 of a plenary session of the Caucasian Bureau of the C.C. R.C.P. (B) published in Vestnik arkhivov Armenii, No. 2, 1989, document No. 13, 76-77.
12 From a protocol of a plenary session of the Caucasian Bureau of C.C. R.C.P. (B) published in Vestnik arkhivov Armenii, No. 2, 1989, document No. 14, 77-78.
13 Until 1995 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was called the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).
14 M. Mihalka, “Restructuring European Security,” Transition, Vol. 1, No. 11, 30 June, 1995, p. 3.
15 BUDAPEST SUMMIT DECLARATION. Toward a Genuine Partnership in a New Era [http://www.osce.org/docs/English/1990-1999/summits/buda94e.htm/].
16 See: Audrey L. Altstadt, op. cit., p. 125.
17 See, for example: S. Shmemann, “Yeltsin Suggests Russian Regional Role,” New York Times, 1 March, 1993.
18 OCSE. BUDAPEST DOCUMENT 1994. Toward a Genuine Partnership in a New Era. BUDAPEST DECISIONS. II. REGIONAL ISSUES. Intensification of CSCE Action in Relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict [http://www.osce.org/docs/English/1990-1944/summits/buda94e.htm/].
20 See: J. Fergusson, “Global’noe obshchestvo v kontse dvadtsatogo stoletia,” Mezhdunarodnye otnoshenia: sotsiologicheskie podkhody, Moscow, 1998, pp. 195-221.
21 See: W. Rostow, United States in the World Arena, Harper and Row, New York, 1960, p. 414.