What does Azerbaijan do better than Turkey?

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict"Russia and Turkey have to come to one table"

The conflict in the southern Caucasus has existed since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. At that time, Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent. The province of Nagorno-Karabakh, predominantly inhabited by Armenians, was located on Azerbaijani national territory. In the same year she broke away from Azerbaijan, supported by Armenian troops. Since then there has been repeated fighting between the two countries. The situation escalated particularly violently this weekend. According to information from Nagorno-Karabakh, 16 soldiers and two civilians were killed on Sunday (27.09.2020). More than a hundred people were injured. It was the hardest argument in decades.

Sergey Lagodinsky is a member of the European Parliament for the Greens. Among other things, he is a deputy member of the Caucasus parliamentary delegation, which is also in contact with Armenian and Azerbaijani parliamentarians. For Lagodinsky, peace can only succeed in stopping arms deliveries from Russia and Turkey.

(afp / Armenian Defense Ministry) after heavy fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia (04:05)
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been involved in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is predominantly Armenian, for almost 30 years. Now the dispute over the Caucasus region has escalated.

Silvia Engels: How dangerous is this escalation this time?

Sergey Lagodinsky: The escalation is dangerous. We say this every five years because it keeps coming to a head. This time it's a little different, because for the first time in many years the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, was shot directly. That is, of course, something that is of a completely different quality. This is the first time since 1990.

Sergey Lagodinsky, European Parliamentarian of the Greens and member of the Caucasus parliamentary delegation (imago images / IPON)

"Three cultural areas collide"

Angel: It's an old territorial conflict. But what other elements play a role here?

Lagodinsky: This is a regional conflict where three cultural areas have practically clashed for centuries. You have spoken for decades. For centuries this has been a conflict, a region of conflict between the former Persian cultural empire, the Ottoman and the Russian, and for centuries this has been the limit of this clash. Now it goes on like this. We have Russia with a more pro-Armenian role, also historically strengthened with Russian troops that are also stationed in Armenia, a Russia that also supplies arms to Azerbaijan and cultivates rather destructive relations in both directions. We have Turkey. Just before this escalation, military exercises between Azerbaijan and Turkey took place, and the Armenian side claims that this has something to do with this escalation, that the Turkish involvement is also due to this latest escalation. There is a cultural proximity between Azerbaijan and Turkey. And on the Armenian side there is also historical trauma, because that is also part of the painful Armenian history in the confrontation up to the genocidal genocidal campaigns with the Turkish-influenced cultural population. Some of this also took place in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Angel: A multifaceted conflict with many actors. Who can mediate here?

Lagodinsky: We have the format of the so-called Minsk Group, not to be confused with the Minsk Group, which looks after Ukraine. That is a different constellation. France, Russia and the USA chair this group there. This is an OSCE format and I believe that this is something the two parties and we as an international community should go back to. This group fell asleep a bit. We had the last aggravation in the region in 2016. But there are already specific proposals that are on the table. For example: everyone agrees. Your correspondent said that too. Nagorno-Karabakh has not been recognized by any single state, including Armenia so far. Everyone agrees that it is the territory of Azerbaijan. But everyone also agrees that most of them are culturally Armenian - especially after Azerbaijani refugees were expelled during the military action. And that there has to be a solution in the direction of strong cultural autonomy. But how to get there is the big question. In any case, seven districts belong to the occupied territories, and there is no doubt that even Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh do not belong to this conflict area. They are clearly occupied and they should be evacuated from Armenia.

"Azerbaijan is militarily much stronger than Armenia"

Angel: You mentioned the Minsk Group of the OSCE. The key data of a solution have in fact been known for years. I quote: Armenia should withdraw its soldiers from Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani refugees are expected to return. An international peacekeeping force to ensure order and the next step would then be international economic aid to allow the region to prosper as a whole. - Such efforts always get stuck in the beginning, for years, for decades. It shouldn't sound cynical, but who is more interested in keeping the conflict smoldering?

Lagodinsky: I think the big powers in the background definitely, but in this case too, I would say, the Azerbaijani government, because it made no sense for Armenians to escalate now. In Azerbaijan, on the other hand, there were large demonstrations in the capital, in Baku this summer, where the population demanded - we have just heard this military rhetoric from the Armenian side in the contribution - to recapture these countries, this region. Azerbaijan is militarily much stronger than Armenia, one has to say, and has a very strong ally in Turkey.

I would say that pressure on Turkey is necessary here, from my point of view. It is also an interesting question for me personally why this is taking place with Turkey at the moment when the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is worsening. I have the feeling that Ankara would like to emphasize its regional geostrategic importance here again. But at the same time I say very clearly that this territory is a territory of Azerbaijan under international law. The Armenian side also has to move here. A solution can only be found together and Russia and Turkey, as guarantee powers, to a certain extent, have to come to the same table. What I hear from Russian media, from Russia Today, for example, from the editor-in-chief, is just as militaristic as there is already a fantasy about a war between Russia and Turkey. This is also not the right way. Here the path leads only through peace and through talks and through stopping arms deliveries. Both sides, Turkey and Russia supply a lot of weapons and here in this conflict, in this escalation even drones were used very successfully by the Azerbaijani side, there are also new arms deliveries. That has to be stopped. Perhaps this is a new way towards pacification, to stop an arms delivery from all sides.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.