Armenian Side Gives up on Territorial Concessions

    • Country - 22 August 2016, 17:05
The former American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and the ex-ambassador in Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza published an article in atlanticcouncil.org on new tendencies in the Karabakh settlement.

He submitted the dynamics of the process of negotiations over the Karabakh settlement and it becomes obvious that after 2007 the number of territories that the Armenian side was supposed to hand has decreased from 7 to 2 and then to 0.

Bryza writes that in 2007 the principles of Madrid envisaged the return of 7 territories surrounding former autonomous district of Nagorno-Karabakh in return for which Karabakh would get an interim status and a corridor with Armenia. Azerbaijan would lift the blockade, and international peacekeepers would be stationed on the border.

Although this system has never been agreed officially, in January 2009 Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan gave a reason for optimism by stating that these proposals could be a basis for negotiations, Bryza wrote.

However, in 2009 Sargsyan changed his stance and accepted the return of five territories. It is possible that the Armenian side, probably not without external support, tried to change the condition for five territories or to get relevant “compromise” from Azerbaijan.

Bryza reported that during the meeting with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on 20 June 2016 Putin proposed moving forward gradually, proposing to hand two territories to Azerbaijan in return for restoring transit and economic relations.

Bryza insists that Sargsyan and Aliyev welcomed Putin’s proposal though they did not accept it. On July 17, however, the armed group of the “Armenian nationalists” stormed the police regiment in Yerevan. The storming has resulted in a tougher stance of Armenia, Bryza said.

Though the American diplomat who is known to be a lobbyist of Turkish interests does not state directly that the issue of “handing territories” has been removed from the agenda, the dynamics that Bryza notes is evidence to this. Interestingly, together with the number of territories Azerbaijan’s “compromises” were “reduced” as well. If in the beginning an “interim status” and a referendum were considered, the last proposal, as Bryza noted, envisages only the lifting of the blockade by Azerbaijan.

There is an opinion that before the April war the signing of an agreement of not attacking was seen as Azerbaijan’s concession for the return of an x number of territories. This condition has become irrelevant after April.

Over the past 10 years the negotiations over the Karabakh issue have reached a point which first of all supposes waiver of the principles of Madrid and the condition of return of territories for “compromise”, whether recognition of the interim status, use of force or lifting of the blockade.

Considering the information from Bryza and other sources, ten years ago Armenia was ready to give away 7 territories for a recognition of status, in 2009 five territories were considered in return for refraining from the use of force and lifting of the blockade. After the April war two territories were considered in return for the lifting of the blockade, and after the rebellion of Sasna Ts’rer (or maybe after getting certain guarantees) this issue also got off the agenda.

Armenia is interested in lifting the blockade but now the lifting of the blockade is needed by the external forces more. Let them “pay” to Azerbaijan and not with the Karabakh territories. Karabakh is changing its constitution and soon the territorial integrity of Karabakh will be laid down in the mother law.