Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Child refugees: Inside Turkey's hidden sweatshops

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'The Red Turtle', 'Camping 3' and 'The Balkan Trilogy'

Read more

FACE-OFF

After Brexit, is a Frexit possible?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Vodafone warns it could move HQ out of UK

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French people against a 'Frexit' referendum

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Turkish Airport Blasts

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

France slammed for support of ex-Chad dictator Hissene Habre

Read more

THE DEBATE

The big breakup: The EU after Brexit

Read more

FOCUS

France struggling to recruit prison imams

Read more

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

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

2016-06-23 World War I

World War I: When northern France was on German time

During World War I, thirteen of France's regional departments were under German occupation. For four years, two million French citizens took their orders from Berlin. No more...

Read more

2016-06-17 USA

Video: American conservatives strike back

Some southern US lawmakers have launched a legislative offensive to protect the "religious freedom" they believe is under threat. In Mississippi, homosexuals can now be denied...

Read more

2016-06-09 Iran

Video: A year of change for Iran since nuclear accord

It’s now been a year since Iran struck its historic nuclear accord with six world powers under which Tehran vowed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of...

Read more

2016-06-03 Nigeria

Welcome to Nollywood: The world’s second-largest film industry

In just a few years, Nigeria has climbed the cinematic ladder and pushed Tinseltown into third (with Bollywood in India holding the top spot). Today, Nigeria is inundated with...

Read more

2016-05-26 Ukraine

Ukraine: Searching for missing people in Donbass

For the past two years, Ukraine has been divided. Despite several truces, clashes continue in the eastern regions between pro-Russian separatists and government forces. According...

Read more