Helsinki Commission: Karabakh among world’s most intractable conflicts
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, published a brief report on the NagornoKarabakh conflict.
The report, released on June 15, reads that the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains one of the world’s most intractable and long-standing territorial conflicts.
The history of the conflict dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century. The active phase of the conflict, a full-scale war between the newly independent Armenia and Azerbaijan, began in 1991 and lasted until the Russia-brokered ceasefire in 1994.
The authors of the report said that in this period Armenian separatist declared independence, stressing that it is still unrecognized by international community.
“Armenia claimed important strategic gains as a result of the conflict, with Yerevan seizing full control of Nagorno-Karabakh and all or part of seven surrounding provinces that the international community continues to recognize as part of Azerbaijan,” the report said.
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has remained unresolved since 1994, with fighting being erupted periodically along the 160-mile line of contact. Since 1994, there have reportedly been over 7,000 ceasefire violations, according to the report.
April 2016 marked the most serious outbreak of violence over the past two decades. The so-called ‘Four Day War’ took the lives of at least 200 people, the authors of the report noted.
“The conflict saw Azerbaijan take control of two strategic heights in addition to other modest gains, representing the first change to the status quo since the 1994 ceasefire,” said the report.
The report stressed that the OSCE Minsk Group has long been trying to achieve the settlement of this long-term conflict.
The document sets out the Madrid Principles, which list the basic points, as well as the position of Russia and the United States towards this conflict.
The policy of the United States towards the region has in many ways been framed by the NagornoKarabakh conflict, with the U.S. supporting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan while recognizing that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh should be settled through negotiations, the report said.
Since the 1990s, the U.S. Helsinki Commission has examined the prospect for the conflict’s resolution and the plight of IDPs in a number of hearings and briefings. The Commission constantly supports the activities of OSCE Minsk Group in this direction.
However, the authors suggest that the terms of most agreements remain largely unimplemented. Regardless, the authors of report are confident that the OSCE should continue to pursue “trust-building and risk reduction measures.”
The report underlined the importance of Turkey’s role in any settlement, given its close relations with Azerbaijan.
The U.S. Helsinki Commission is an independent agency of the U.S. Federal Government. For 40 years, the Commission has monitored compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advanced comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental, and military cooperation in the 57-nation OSCE region.