Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Burkina Faso: Calls for probe into 1998 murder of journalist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

All dogs may go to heaven after all

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MP's debate whether or not to recognize Palestine

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Ferguson and race relations in the US

Read more

DEBATE

Hollande and Africa: French President Speaks to France 24

Read more

FOCUS

Thiaroye: a dark chapter in France and Senegal's common history

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

The 'Stagnation Trap', with Catherine Mann, Chief Economist at OECD

Read more

ENCORE!

'An American in Paris', a truly transatlantic collaboration

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Oil prices 'could fall further' without OPEC output cut

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

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-11-21 National Front party (France)

France’s National Front in the spotlight

With the National Front on the rise in France, our reporters returned to three towns where the far-right party’s mayoral candidates won the most recent local elections.

Read more

2014-11-14 Somalia

Somaliland: A would-be nation state

In the eyes of the international community, Somaliland is an autonomous region in Somalia, on the Horn of Africa. But most of its 3.5 million inhabitants do not consider the...

Read more

2014-11-07 Liberia

Liberia: The daily threat of Ebola

Liberia is one of the countries most affected by the outbreak of Ebola, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Read more

2014-10-31 Mexico

USA - Mexico: A danger-ridden border

It’s one of the most porous borders in the world. Each month, abetted by smugglers working with drug cartels, thousands of Hispanic immigrants try to cross the frontier between...

Read more

2014-10-24 Spain

Why does Catalonia want to leave Spain?

On November 9, 2014, Catalans were due to vote in a referendum on independence. But the poll was cancelled by the Constitutional Court after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s...

Read more