Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Tens of thousands bid farewell to Morgan Tsvangirai

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Afrin: 'a war without images'

Read more

THE DEBATE

Syria on the Brink: Can Assad help the Kurds against Turkish forces?

Read more

FOCUS

Inside the murky business of cobalt mining in DR Congo

Read more

ENCORE!

100% Pure Parisian: Comedian Julie Collas helps locals laugh at themselves

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Chinese textile wholesalers open Marseille site

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Meet Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer: Angela Merkel's 'mini-me'

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Major French student union rocked by sexual assault claims

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Photographer Pete Souza shares his ‘portrait’ of Obama

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

2018-02-16 Africa

Video: Girls in Malawi victims of 'sexual cleansing' ritual

In the remote southern regions of Malawi, a violent tradition is practised on young women. Girls who reach puberty are forced to have sex with a "hyena", a man chosen by their...

Read more

2018-02-09 China

Video: The victims of China’s forced disappearances

In China, the authorities go to great lengths to control civil society, even resorting to forced disappearances. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, political...

Read more

2018-02-02 Europe

Video: Crossing the Alps with Guinean migrants on a perilous journey

Since last summer, more migrants have been trying to cross the frozen plains of the Col de l'Échelle mountain pass in the Alps in a bid to reach France from Italy. In 2016 only a...

Read more

2018-01-26 France

Video: French Guiana battles with migrant influx, drug trafficking

In Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, French Guiana's second-largest city, one in three residents is foreign and often there illegally. To reach this South American region of overseas...

Read more

2018-01-19 Iraq

Exclusive: On the frontline with Shiite militias in Iraq

In December 2017, the Iraqi government announced with great fanfare the "official end of the war against the Islamic State group". The announcement marked the end of three years...

Read more