Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 22-29 April: Back to earth

In the last two weeks there was not a single day without a violation of the ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In the last days, violations resulted in casualties.
Incidents are recorded non only along the former administrative boundary line of Karabakh, but also on the border between the two states.
When the Karabakh war erupted, more than twenty years ago, something was different: there was not the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) yet, and Armenia and Azerbaijan were under the same umbrella.

Things have changed since then. Armenia belongs to CSTO and Azerbaijan is not aligned.
In case of aggression, Armenia would most probably call for the protection of the Organization.
The key question is if this low intensity conflict will turn into an open war, that is to say, if one of the two - Azerbaijan, which is more interested in changing the status quo - will try and invade Karabakh and strategically useful sites in Armenia.
The escalation seems at present unavoidable.

Still, in May Azerbaijan is hosting Eurovision, so any military action right now should be ruled out.
In September Armenia will host CSTO drills. Again, it would be unwise to start military operations then. Not to mention that Russian ones, Kavkaz 2012, are planned in the same period.
A summer tentative blitz? The new Azerbaijani armory called for a huge investment. Why, if not for a war?

Someone is playing with fire, but most probably someone else is determined to back the player to earth.
Perhaps someone who is investing a lot in a huge event like Olympiads in the Caucasus and who is well aware that a blitz will never be successful in Karabakh.

So to speak, Abkhazians policy took off, as well.
Separatist officials took an extremely tough stance against EUMM head of Mission and - without even the shortest notice - cancelled the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting in Gali.

It's clear that De facto President Ankvab is not Bagapsh.
Still, in the last three years IPRM proved to be a very valuable instrument, so pragmatically, it would make sense to land, back to earth... in not to the earth of Gali, as EUMM head of Mission is not "persona non grata", to Ganmukhuri or Zugdidi...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 9-15 April: Nothing will be the same again

... it will be worse.

Actually, it's hard to say when the "before" benchmark should be fixed.
One thing is for sure: the permanent, growing use of hate speech as the standard political communication in South Caucasus.

In Georgia President Saakashvili, according to, after attending Orthodox Easter service in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi on Sunday said that "Evil force", which occupies parts of Georgia where "our churches are trampled down", will "retreat and definitely be defeated", and that occupation of 20% of [Georgia's] territory by the enemy" [is]"of course a temporary situation". He said that the Easter was symbolizing victory of good over evil and this holiday was fitting well to "the optimistic nature of the Georgian nation."

Was it necessary and appropriate to comment in such a way Orthodox Easter?
It should be recalled that there are specific provisions in UN Resolutions about Georgia/Abkhazia/South Ossetia which address the use of militant rhetoric: Resolution 1666/2006, point 6; Resolution 1582/2005, point 8; Resolution 1554/2004 point 7, which clearly states, to quote one example: "[...] publicly dissociate themselves from all militant rhetoric and demonstration of support for military options".

Georgian President Saakashvili is not an exception in South Caucasus. And the results of the systematic use of hate speech is visible. You don't have to wait for a war to appreciate its fruits. Not even for a slightest threat of national security, to be more exact.
Take the case of the Azerbaijani Film Festival in Gyumri, Armenia.
In the days when Yerevan is promoting the program of the National cinema center of Armenia in Cannes, this is what happened with the film Azerbaijani Film Festival, organized by the Armenia-based Caucasus Center for Peace-Making Initiatives and supported by the U.S. and UK embassies:

«STOP» Azerbaijani Film Festival in Armenia has been blocked as a result of a terror and blackmailing carried out by pressure groups that try to disguise their actions by an alleged "wave of public outrage." The organizers and potential viewers of the festival receive threats of physical revenge through the internet and phone. Those who threaten disseminate information about planned actions of vandalism and terror to take place during the festival. At the same time the festival is blocked by blackmailing and putting pressure on the owners of the premises rented by our organization. In all these cases people are so scared that they refuse to provide any information about the blackmailers.Several mass media outlets and individuals are involved in this anti-festival campaign. They actively disseminate false information and libel about the activities of the Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives (CCPMI). The pressure on people related to CCPMI increases every day. (

The title of the Armenian movie to be presented in Cannes is: “Your grief is mine”
Hate Speech is the grief of whoever has to deal with South Caucasus.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 25 March - 01 April: On uneven legs

Quotation from the Geneva International Discussions (GD), XIX Session, 28-29 March, Co-Chairs' press communique:

"In Working Group I, the participants reviewed the security situation on the ground and welcomed the relatively stable environment, despite an increase of the number of the violent incidents along the Inguri river. The value of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms in ensuring continued stability was reiterated by all participants. The participants continued to discuss Non-Use of Force and International Security Arrangements. A new contribution was tabled in the context of the discussion on non-use of force commitments by participants. Deliberations on these topics will be resumed at the next round. The Co-Chairs encouraged participants to engage in confidence-building, based on positive practice of the IPRMs.

In Working Group II, the participants reviewed the humanitarian situation, focusing on the needs and challenges of displaced persons and vulnerable populations. In addition, specific issues such as missing persons, education and cultural heritage preservation were discussed. In an information session, participants were given the opportunity to increase their knowledge of the legal framework governing the preservation of cultural heritage. The participants were given an update on various water-related projects led by the OSCE and financed by the EU.

An incouraging routine, which is working for the last three and half years.

A far less encouranging quotation from International Nuclear Summit, Seoul, 27 March, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's speech:
As for the disinformation broadcasted here by the President of Azerbaijan regarding the Armenia NPS, it doesn’t surprise me a bit because vilification of Armenia has become a modus operandi for Azerbaijan long ago. Not only every issue related to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh is presented from the highest podiums in the most perverted way but also the documents adopted by the international community, i.e. by us and by you. Even the UN Security Council resolutions related to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict are distorted, neglecting the fact that they were the ones who started the military actions; they were the ones who refused to cease them, they are the ones who voice belligerent statements on a daily basis and refuse to solve the NK issue in accordance with international law[...]”

The GD are deemed unsatisfactory by many, and unfortunately even when participants assess a session positively, as Georgian ones this time, they cannot influence mutual relations among the parties involved or their behaviour or choices outside the process itself. And that's something that endangers their continuity and prospects.
Still, they're definitely much more than the limping cease-fire arrangements in force between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The term limping sounds optimist, actually. Falling is a term describing better what's going on.
Stability does not proceed on uneven legs.