Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Judicial reforms: Polish government on collision course with EU

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Euro, stocks slide on Merkel's lacklustre election win

Read more

#THE 51%

Hola 'Ellas Hoy' - The 51 Percent welcomes its sister show on FRANCE 24 Spanish

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Donald Trump Vs NFL: America's divider in chief or America's saviour?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

National security or personal freedom? French MPs discuss anti-terrorism bill

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Dotard: An educational insult

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Power Play in Barcelona, May's Brexit speech

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Brexit and the city: Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin vying for new business

Read more

#TECH 24

Medtech: Repairing the human body

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

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

2017-09-22 Middle East

The torment of Christians living in Syria’s Khabur valley

In the last few years, Syria’s Christians have been subjected to violent attacks and kidnappings by the Islamic State group. Churches have been burnt and entire villages in the...

Read more

2017-09-15 Middle East

Video: How the Haredim, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, make their own rules

In Israel, the Haredim community (or "Those in awe of God") lives separately from the rest of Israeli society. Dressed all in black, these ultra-Orthodox practise a strict form...

Read more

2017-09-07 DR Congo

In DR Congo, karate helps rape victims rebuild their lives

For the past three years, Frenchwoman Laurence Fischer, a three-time world karate champion, has travelled to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo to help female victims of...

Read more

2017-09-01 Japan

Video: Returning home to Fukushima

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, in 1986. Just like in the Soviet Union,...

Read more

2017-08-23 Africa

Video: The fight for survival in drought-hit Somaliland

Since the beginning of this year, Somaliland, an autonomous territory in the Horn of Africa, has been ravaged by severe drought. As eighty percent of the region’s livestock has...

Read more