Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

'Maduro's regime is a criminal dictatorship'

Read more

FOCUS

Kenyan authorities step up security amid Al-Shabaab threat

Read more

ENCORE!

Rock icons Midnight Oil on politics, passion and their long-awaited comeback

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Sleep tight beautiful boy': Charlie Gard's parents to take him off life support

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

South Africa's 'Guptaleaks': New website aims to reveal extent of 'state capture'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Building walls: French protesters block access to hotel migrant shelter

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Google parent company's profits hit by EU fine

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Phelps flops in man v shark challenge

Read more

THE DEBATE

Jerusalem Crisis: Who will play the peacemaker?

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

2017-07-21 Asia-pacific

Video: Afghans live in fear as kidnappings soar

Last year, more than 300 people were kidnapped in Afghanistan. Although abductions of foreigners by the Taliban tend to make the headlines, more than 90% of the victims are in...

Read more

2017-07-14 Asia-pacific

China dreams of superpower status on the football pitch

China has been redrawing the world's football map in recent months. Thanks to virtually unlimited funds, players and coaches from some of the best European clubs are flocking to...

Read more

2017-07-13 Middle East

Exclusive: Storming Raqqa, IS group's cursed capital in Syria

The city of Raqqa in northern Syria has been held by the Islamic State group since early 2014. But the terror group's Syrian headquarters is on the verge of liberation. Snipers...

Read more

2017-07-07 European Union

Poland’s love-hate relationship with the EU

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, is a maverick. On civil rights, justice and the environment, Poland is increasingly breaking away from EU...

Read more

2017-06-30 Saudi Arabia

Women in Saudi Arabia: A long road to equality

In Saudi Arabia, women are considered second-class citizens. They cannot drive or travel without the authorisation of a male guardian: a brother, father, cousin or even a son....

Read more