"Security Area" Doesn't Exist Any More: What's Happening at the Border?

    • Comments - 20 August 2016, 23:36
Photo by Hetq.am
Photo by Hetq.am
In a meeting with the high-ranking officers, the commander of the NKR Defense Army Levon Mnatsakanyan announced that currently the notion “security area” does not exist.

What does this statement mean? Of course, it is difficult to give an unequivocal assessment because the context of the minister’s words is not known. His statement can be interpreted in different ways. At the same time, there are opinions that certain international guarantees will be effective at the border, namely within the OSCE mandate.

According to official messages, there was a relevant agreement during the meeting in Vienna. Earlier the United States had come up with an initiative to introduce mechanisms of investigations and equipment in the conflict area and enlargement of the OSCE mandate, which would mark the end of Azerbaijan’s military diplomacy and generally any argument.

Russia was obviously against this because thereby the intention to station peacekeepers becomes almost impossible.

At the same time, it supposes international recognition of the status of Karabakh. And it is not accidental that after the military actions in April the new topic of the negotiations was “specified” in Vienna and Saint Petersburg – the recognition of the status of Karabakh.

Azerbaijan is trying to thwart these new tendencies, insisting that the issue of status can be discussed only after returning the territories, within Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. The Armenian side insists on the recognition of the status first.

In fact, Armenia and Azerbaijan have expressed opposite stances at the public level, and this means that there are no negotiations as such. The Armenian deputy foreign minister Shavarsh Kocharyan actually confirmed this, stating that there can be no compromise until Baku makes a compromise.

After the military actions of April the Armenian side undertook large-scale works of upgrading border installations and equipment, with capacity for deep intelligence, as the NKR Defense Army commander announced. Azerbaijan implements similar works on its side of the border.

Does this mean that Karabakh and Azerbaijan are establishing and “recognizing” the border “quietly”, at least for the upcoming stage of “normalization” which may last for a decade during which clashes are ruled out? In this context, Levon Mnatsakanyan’s words on “security area” may mean that the issue of territories is ruled out, at least at this stage.

In fact, Karabakh and Azerbaijan implemented the “introduction of investigative mechanisms and equipment” on their own, which was an American initiative. It is possible that this was a “compromise” between the stakeholder great powers and the conflict sides when the sides take on the process freeing the mediators from extra financial and political chores and disagreement.