Monday 3 November 2008

Conflict resolution in the South Caucasus: Good news from Nagorno Karabakh

After month in which the negative sides of the "Separatist Agendas" in the South Caucasus have dominated the headlines, this weekend brought one little light of hope: The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to solve their conflict around Nagorno Karabakh with political - and, hence, peaceful - means.

This conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the least covered disputes on the European continent, and books like Thomas de Waal's "The dreary language of the resolution" (summary) are rare examples of attention to this issue.

However, BBC and others report that yesterday, and thanks to the mediation of Russia's president Medvedev, the presidents of Armenia (Serzh Sargsyan) and Azerbaijan (Ilham Aliyev) have signed a joint document in which they agree to resolve the question of this breakaway region peacefully.

The document is the first joint document signed by both parties at this high level in 15 years, despite ongoing talks within the so-called Minsk Group of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) of which both countries are members, and despite constant diplomatic monitoring within the Council of Europe (through the so-called AGO-group, abbreviated "GT-SUIVI.AGO").

This step is very promising, although the basic positions of the countries regarding Nagorno Karabakh have not really changed. It is a good sign in a region that is rather seen as conflict-laden than as a centre of harmony.

And it is an intelligent and commendable move by Russia: As a successfull mediator, the country can get out of the black hole it entered with the conflict in South Ossetia, and it can show to Europe and the rest of the world that it can facilitate the peaceful resolution of conflicts in its periphery.

Altogether, this is very positive news, and we Europeans should be grateful for any step taken to reduce tensions on our continent.

I am looking forward to hearing similar news from Georgia or from Transnistria...

This issue in other blogs:

- Gail's Tail
- AriRusila