Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles (part 2)

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Over 70 killed in Nigeria bus station terror attack

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Pornagraphy without borders is key benefit of EU, says French MEP

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

ENCORE!

“Booty Looting” memory and mediums

Read more

WEB NEWS

Another Google Glass wearer attacked in San Francisco

Read more

LIFESTYLES

Sustainable cuisine

Read more

DEBATE

Eastern Ukraine: the escalation (part 2)

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2012-12-19

Nagorno-Karabakh, the time bomb on Europe's doorstep

The enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is a powder keg at the centre of a decades-old dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Its people are mostly Armenian, but under the Soviet Union it was ruled by Azerbaijan. In 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh declared itself independent. A three-year war followed, killing around 30,000 people. A fragile truce still holds, but Armenian forces occupy large swathes of Azeri land, and oil-rich Azerbaijan says it will take back the territories by force if there's no peace deal.

Armenians and Azeris inhabit two different worlds. The Karabakh Armenians do not see themselves as occupiers, but as keepers of their ancestral lands. They will tell you that they were effectively occupied by Azerbaijan for 70 years. Azeris will tell you that they did no harm to the Armenians in those 70 years, and that it was the Armenians who sparked the conflict. War trauma and national pride prevent the two nations from communicating directly with each other. Occasionally their presidents or foreign ministers will sit around a table with a Russian or Western mediator. The smiles are wooden; the suits seemingly made of concrete.

The worry, of course, is that Azerbaijan’s oil-infused defence upgrade will make for a much more devastating second Karabakh war. Russia, Turkey and Iran could be sucked in. But over coffee at one of the smarter hotels in the Karabakh "capital" Stepanakert, a presidential aide offered France 24 a surprising perspective. Despite Azerbaijan’s public threats to retake its lands by force, Baku privately prefers the status quo, he said. Azerbaijan has pledged to give Karabakh a "very high degree of autonomy" if and when it regains control. That, the aide told us, could open a pandora’s box of claims by other minorities inside Azerbaijan, such as Lezgins, Talysh and Kurds. Eventually, the aide suggested, the integrity of the Azerbaijani state could be seriously compromised – and over a larger geographical area than just Karabakh.

If he’s right, perhaps we shouldn’t expect a second Karabakh war after all.

By Willy BRACCIANO , Markus Meyer , Armen GEORGIAN

Comments

COMMENT(S)

 
 
Archives

2014-04-11 Algerian presidential elections

Is Algeria’s civil society mobilising?

Algeria goes to the polls on April 17th with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika vying for a fourth term. Yet the ailing 77-year-old president, who spent most of past year in hospital...

Read more

2014-04-04 United Nations

Rwanda: The last genocide of the 20th century

On April 6 1994, the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down by a missile. Within a day, the country was gripped by a murderous wave of violence. Between...

Read more

2014-03-28 World Cup

Worked to death in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

Every day Nepalese workers venture to the Gulf States in search of a better life. Some of these workers will not survive. Those who do receive little or no wages and are given...

Read more

2014-03-21 Sahara

Mali's peace caravan

In Mali, thousands of civilians are still displaced in neighbouring countries. In an effort to encourage their return, musicians have organised a huge caravan crossing the Sahara...

Read more

2014-03-14 Syria

The inside story on when Assad crossed the ‘red line’

A chemical weapons attack targeted the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013. The West threatened air strikes in response, and Syria agreed to destroy its chemical arms stockpile....

Read more