Kenan Allahverdiev, Ph.D. (Philos.), associate professor at the Political Science and Political Administration Department, State Administration Academy under the President of the Azerbaijan Republic (Baku, Azerbaijan)


Why Karabakh? Why has this small patch of land been a bone of contention in the Caucasus for so long (since the 19th century)?

The answers, not infrequently placed in political and ethnic contexts, are numerous:

Historical memory of the various Caucasian nationalities about alleged ethnic insults;

Antagonistic ethnopolitical contradictions due to the absence of ethnic complementariness among the main local ethnic groups;

The clash between two major postulates of international law: the territorial integrity of states and the right of nations to self-determination;

Territorial claims that develop into aggression;

The geopolitically conditioned continuous conflict caused by the neo-imperial intentions of the main players on the world political scene;

The opposing interests of the ethnic elites and clans that started the conflict in the first place to gain their own political and economic advantages, etc.

The list is much longer than that, but the questions and answers should not be taken for abstract theorizing; an adequate description of the nature and genesis of the Karabakh conflict affects, in the most direct way, whether it can be resolved at all. Everything that politicians and academics have said so far about the conflict can be reduced to several paradigms: historical, civilizational, ethnopolitical, and geopolitical.

Since the first three have been extensively covered in the academic literature, I selected the geopolitical context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as the centerpiece of the present article. This analysis should not:

First, be limited to the recent events and concentrate on the geopolitical collisions among the actors of current international politics;

Second, be described in the terms of classical geopolitics (the regional context calls for internal and applied geopolitics);

Third, ignore the ethnic (ethnopolitical) element invariably present in the seats of geopolitical tension of the so-called discontinuous belt of the Eurasian continent (to which the Caucasus belongs).

This explains why my analysis of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict concentrates on retrospective ethnic geopolitics.

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