Azerbaiyán

En Arménie, la ligne rouge n’a pas été franchie. Mais l’Azerbaïdjan franchira-t-il la ligne de démarcation ? En Arménie, depuis le 13 avril, tout au long du mouvement #Im Kayle (ma démarche), initié par Nikol Pachinian contre le gouvernement de Serge Sarkissian et favorable à un changement de pouvoir, une question circule dans toutes les têtes : le conflit du Haut-Karabakh, province arménienne rattachée à l’Azerbaïdjan en 1921 et théâtre d’une guerre entre Arméniens et Azerbaïdjanais (1990-1994) – dont le règlement de paix est placé sous l’égide du Groupe de Minsk de l’OSCE (Organisation pour la sécurité et la coopération en Europe) coprésidé par la France, les Etats-Unis et la Russie – va-t-il dégénérer ?…  Seguir leyendo »

Politics and Security Hold Each Other Hostage in Nagorno-Karabakh

Sniper fire can hit almost every open-air spot in Nerkin Karmiraghbyur, an Armenian village in the Tavush region on the border with Azerbaijan. Nargiza, who runs a well-stocked shop out of an abandoned railway coach in the village centre, laments the locals’ fate: “We never feel safe. We hear shooting at night, and fear it during the day. My neighbours have stopped cultivating their vineyards. They were being shot at while at work.”

Nargiza means “daffodil”. It’s a common name in Azerbaijan and other Muslim cultures, but not in her native Armenia, especially since the start of the three-decade-long conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.…  Seguir leyendo »

After 21 years of negotiations, the littoral countries of the Caspian Sea – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan – are apparently close to agreeing the sea’s legal status. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the text of a convention on delimitation was settled at a December meeting with his four counterparts. According to Lavrov, the Caspian presidents will meet in the first half of 2018 in Astana to finally sign.

Russia has been trying a change of tack. Rather than carrying out unwieldy five-sided negotiations, President Vladimir Putin now seems to be favouring bilateral and trilateral approaches. This may be yielding results beyond mere carving up of the sea: Russia has had more effective and flexible separated dialogue with neighbouring countries, based on common interests with each of them, but which are not necessarily shared by all five countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

For almost three months now, there has been an astonishing lull along the Karabakh frontline. Instead of grenade launchers, guided missiles, drones, and guns, the sound of relatively less harmful small arms has been heard. For the first time since the clash of April 2016, both sides have put their weapons aside to take a breather before the long-awaited meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

There have been no negotiations at the presidential level for more than a year. All prior requests to resume meetings by international mediators yielded no results. Instead of conversing at the negotiation table, the leaders occasionally donned military uniforms, and set out with binoculars to examine each other’s military positions.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the last two weeks of September, Azerbaijani police launched a violent campaign of “arresting and torturing men presumed to be gay or bisexual, as well as transgender women,” according to Human Rights Watch and local advocacy organizations. On Oct. 2, by all accounts, police released all the detainees, officially acknowledging that 83 had been detained. Local advocacy organizations claim that beatings, electroshock, coercion, blackmail and other abuses were carried out based entirely on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Azerbaijan is “the worst place to be gay in Europe,” the 2015 and 2016 Rainbow Europe reports by ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) concluded.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dans mon pays, le journalisme est un crime. Les chiffres le montrent : sur les 158 prisonniers politiques actuellement détenus en Azerbaïdjan, 10 sont des journalistes. La semaine dernière, la dernière agence de presse indépendante, Turan, a cessé son activité. Braver cet interdit se paie le prix fort. On m’a fait chanter à coups de vidéos filmées à mon insu par les services secrets dans l’intimité de mon foyer. J’ai été jetée en prison pour une longue liste d’accusations inventées de toutes pièces. Et je ne suis pas la seule.

Le régime azéri a de bonnes raisons de mener une telle répression.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenia

Anahit Shirinyan

As the world tries to decipher what Trump presidency means for the global world order and security in Europe, the same questions are asked in Armenia. The US continues not to have a clear-cut policy towards the South Caucasus, and Trump’s tenure is unlikely to change this. Instead, Washington’s relations with Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku are likely to remain an undertone to the larger dynamics of US relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as developments in the Middle East. In this context, some potential pitfalls might affect the overall geopolitical environment in which Armenia operates with implications for Armenian foreign policy.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Southern Gas Corridor, a $45 billion dollar pipeline project delivering gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey, is supposed to start operations by 2020.

But Azerbaijan’s ability to uphold its financial commitments towards the project is under serious pressure from continued low oil prices. The drop in the price of oil was initially treated as temporary by Azerbaijani officials, but has already had a devastating impact on most sectors of the country’s economy, exacerbated by the state’s mismanagement of funds.

Baku has only secured $1.4 billion of the at least $4 billion needed for the Trans-Anatolian pipeline (TANAP), the first part of the route, and needs to secure an additional $2-3 billion for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) which brings the gas to Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

El neodemócrata Evgenii Ambarzumov acuñó en 1992 la expresión “el círculo próximo” para designar a los nuevos Estados que acaban de independizarse con el desplome soviético: el reconocimiento de los mismos no debía oponerse a la defensa de los intereses de Rusia en el espacio de la antigua URSS. Surgió así una voluntad hegemónica en quienes habían lamentado su hundimiento, entre ellos un desconocido, Vladímir Putin. La primera ocasión llegó en 1992, con la guerra que separó de hecho al territorio rusófono, Transnistria, de Moldavia. Más grave aún fue en 1993 una nueva contienda de secesión, de Abjazia contra Georgia: Rusia intervino mediante una “guerra no declarada” (Shevernadze).…  Seguir leyendo »

The room housing refugees in the former Soviet sanatorium just outside Baku was getting a much-needed facelift: new black-and-silver floral wallpaper “to make it more attractive to the future in-laws of my daughter who are not displaced like us”, said Bayram, an Azeri veteran of the 1988-1994 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Bayram remained steadfast in his support for Azerbaijan’s role in last spring’s violent clash with Armenia. “Of course I know what war is and what the consequences can be”, he explained. He pointed to his leg, maimed by artillery fire almost 25 years ago, and to the poor conditions of the refugee shelter where his family has lived for over twenty years.…  Seguir leyendo »

The last year has demonstrated the resilience of Armenian-Azerbaijani deadlock in resisting movement in the direction of either war or peace. On 2 April it will be one year since a major escalation, widely referred to as the four-day ‘war’, that claimed more than 200 lives. Yet while pundits warned plausibly of contagion, the violence quickly subsided as Moscow brokered a ceasefire.

A few weeks later at talks in Vienna brokered by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan gave their formal assent to long called for confidence building measures. …  Seguir leyendo »

Similar to other Eurasian regional groupings, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is an alliance of inconvenience at best. But for Armenia, which seeks a security umbrella – and for the South Caucasus region in general – the failure of the CSTO has broader repercussions. The organization’s failure to act as a coherent military bloc might become the failure to prevent the next war in the Caucasus.

The contradictions inherent in the CSTO were brought to light in December, when the member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan – failed to agree on a secretary general to replace the Russia incumbent, Nikolay Bordyuzha.…  Seguir leyendo »

The forward trenches in the hills just beyond the abandoned village of Talish, in Nagorno-Karabakh, are reminiscent of World War I: long, endless, slits in the ground, the dirt buttressed by wood, with periodic firing posts and dugouts. Stacked tires packed with dirt stand in for sandbags, but otherwise it looks like the Western Front 100 years ago. Behind the trenches, alongside the road, tanks are angled to counterattack.

On the first day of September, the sky cerulean, Capt. Gegham Grigoryan, 32, stood with me and pointed toward the northeast — toward Azerbaijan and the minefield and buffer zone less than a mile away.…  Seguir leyendo »

In early August, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in a trilateral summit with his Azerbaijani and Iranian counterparts in Baku. Though the meeting was initiated by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, one of Moscow’s main goals was to strengthen relations with Iran, a key partner for Russia in Syria and the Caspian region and in energy. The relationship certainly needed a boost.

Syria is not enough

An obvious sign of trouble between the two is the decline of Russian−Iranian trade. In 2015 trade between the two was worth $1.24 billion – the lowest value in a decade. By mid-2016, long-discussed joint projects in the energy sector were still on the drawing board and the construction of the second and third power units of the Bushehr nuclear power plant had not yet begun.…  Seguir leyendo »

This weekend, the Formula 1 European Grand Prix will run through the beautiful streets of Old Baku, in the heart of the Azerbaijani capital. The thought of a collision during the race fills me with dread.

The likes of Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown and Enrique Iglesias were slated to entertain race fans, helping to promote the ruling Aliyev family’s projection of my country as a happy, normal nation.

But Azerbaijan is a country that runs on corruption. Officials can be bought and sold, blind eyes can be turned and crimes can be overlooked if the price is right. The only thing you can’t buy is freedom of speech.…  Seguir leyendo »

Il y a quelques semaines le conflit du Haut-Karabagh s’est réveillé, le temps de prélever en quelques jours un tribut d’une centaine de morts, principalement militaires. Puis il a disparu à nouveau de l’actualité, mais pas des préoccupations de certains analystes qui, comme Jacques Attali, y décèlent le détonateur possible d’une troisième guerre mondiale parce qu’il se superpose à la ligne de haute tension russo-turque.

Pour l’opinion internationale, c’est plutôt l’incompréhension qui domine. Comment peut-on se battre, aux portes de l’Europe et au XXIe siècle, pour une zone enclavée de 4000 km carrés ? Comment prendre au sérieux une guerre picrocholine ?…  Seguir leyendo »

After the end of the ‘four-day war’− a brief but violent outbreak of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorny Karabakh − there are muted hopes for a renewal of peace negotiations. This bodes poorly for Baku – despite Azerbaijan’s military advantage over Armenia, it has increasingly limited diplomatic choices.

Timing

Azerbaijan’s offensive was clearly the result of planning and training but it was not a blitzkrieg aimed at liberating territories under Armenian occupation – once the mission was completed, Azerbaijan announced a unilateral truce. Baku gambled on psychological factors such as a demonstration of the technological advancement of its armed forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

With its early-April offensive against Nagorny Karabakh, Azerbaijan might have sought to prove its long-standing rhetoric that it can take lands by force. Gaining control over some territories would allow Baku to speak from a position of strength at the peace talks, whose format and principles it is unhappy with.

With over 200 fatalities on both sides, the flare-up reportedly ceased upon Azerbaijan’s request and with Russia’s brokering, when a Karabakhi counter-offensive was underway and most positions that changed hands were restored. The Russian diplomatic intervention prevented the army of Nagorny Karabakh from shifting the Line of Contact beyond its established borders.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week’s outbreak of Armenian-Azerbaijani fighting along the Line of Contact (LOC) has yet again demonstrated that preserving the status quo – a self-regulated ceasefire and a defunct political process – is unviable. Azerbaijan’s exasperation, and capacity to challenge the status quo, has been made clear once again. New ceasefire support infrastructure is essential, but this alone is insufficient. It needs to be coupled with a re-activated political process to re-validate politics over frontline violence.

Components of an agreement

Diplomats leading the shuttle diplomacy effort have affirmed that the components of an agreement are in place. This is true: for nearly a decade the OSCE Minsk Group, the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents and their foreign ministers have discussed the Madrid Principles, presented in 2007.…  Seguir leyendo »

Not everyone can find the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where military clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan have resumed, on the map. Yet the ripple effect of the crisis in the hinterlands of the Caucasus can be felt far and wide.

That kind of connectivity was hardly the case 25 years ago, when the conflict started. For the great powers of East and West, the 1989-1994 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan looked not like a geopolitical challenge but a humanitarian catastrophe: 30,000 people died and 1 million were displaced in the fight over a meager 4,400 sq. km (roughly twice the size of Tokyo).…  Seguir leyendo »