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International mediation in Karabakh

Genocide?

A shower of peace initiatives fell upon Karabakh. But it came to nothing. Last week, Turkey, Great Britain, the European Commonwealth and Czechoslovakia, chairing in CSCE, came up with proposals to settle the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. According to observers, this is evidence of the fact that the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is brought to the foreground of global diplomacy.

However, all peace plans imply cease-fire by the conflict sides as a precondition for sending international peacekeeping forces to Transcaucasia. But judging by the course of military operations, that condition is currently unrealizable.

The new series of peace initiatives began with Turkish deputy prime minister Erdal Inonu's visit to Paris, where he proposed French president François Mitterrand to use the CSCE mechanism to ensure security for imposing an embargo on armament supply and cease-fire in Karabakh. However, experts say that Inonu's one-sided plan will not be continued as it implies as a precondition disarmament of Karabakh self-defense detachments and acknowledgment of Karabakh's belonging to Azerbaijan. CSFR foreign minister Jiří Dienstbier also insists on declaring Nagorno-Karabakh a territory of Azerbaijan; he announced his intention to visit Nagorno-Karabakh in late March with a new peace plan.

British deputy foreign minister Douglas Hogg was the first to make an attempt to get to know the demands of the sides on the ground at the end of the week, visiting Baku and Yerevan. In his opinion, the CIS countries "are currently unable to independently solve such complex issues as settlement of regional conflicts."

The CIS leaders, however, may once again try to stop the war in Karabakh. Russian presidential advisor Galina Starovoytova said that the creation of united commonwealth forces (analog of the "UN blue helmets") to support peace, with regard to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, will be discussed at the March 20 meeting in Kiev. Russian secretary of state Gennady Burbulis' close circles said that neither Belarus nor Ukraine is prepared to take part in that initiative, however, Kyrgyzstan agreed to balance the Slavonic factor with the Muslim one in the limited contingent of CIS Armed Forces. Burbulis himself tends to think that the decision on establishment of peace by means of CIS troops should be made by the formula "consensus minus one" (that is, consent of one of the conflict sides is sufficient). According to observers, even if "blue helmets" units are created, they will hardly appear on the Karabakh front: the Armenian side still may agree to deployment of troops on Azerbaijan-Karabakh border, while the Azerbaijani side, insisting on republic's territorial integrity, as before, thinks that they can be deployed only along Azerbaijan-Armenia border.

Observers note that cease-fire continues to be the baseline condition for all international peace initiatives. However, summaries of operations are evidence of both sides' preparation for a decisive battle for Shushi – Azerbaijan's last stronghold in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the Armenian side's information, up to 120 cars with ammunition and manpower arrive daily in Shushi, from where Stepanakert is shelled from Grad rocket launchers. Experts think that the Armenians may be out of luck in the war. The last action by the Armenians to capture weapons, in Artik, on March 8, is known to have failed, while Azerbaijan's national army will get the equipment of two motorized infantry regiments of the 4th army (230 units of armored equipment, 3,000 units of small arms), which deputy commander in chief of CIS ground forces Boris Gromov promised to provide back during the January negotiations on division of Soviet Army property in Azerbaijan.

Konstantin Kostin

Kommersant magazine № 111(111), 16.03.1992


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