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Commentary on Thomas de Waal’s report “The Karabakh Trap: Threats and Dilemmas of the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict” - MFA NKR

Commentary on Thomas de Waal’s report “The Karabakh Trap: Threats and Dilemmas of the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict”

2009-02-23 16:51

 In the middle of January Thomas de Waal’s report “The Karabakh Trap: Threats and Dilemmas of the Nagorno Karabakh Conflict” was published in a number of Azerbaijani internet resources (as it was mentioned in the foreword to the report, it is the rough draft for discussion).

The report covers the force majéur scenarios of the development of the Azerbaijani-Karabakhi conflict and gives a number of recommendations both to the Armenian and Azerbaijani parties, as well as to the mediators. According to the author himself, his work aimed at persuading the parties that “neither of them can completely “win” in the NK conflict”. 

In a wider context, the author’s aim was to convince all the actors, involved in the Azerbaijani-Karabakhi conflict settlement process, of the necessity to change the present status-quo. The author’s task was complicated by the fact that the current state of affairs, to this or that extent, suits both the parties directly involved in the conflict and the main centers of power. This circumstance influenced the arguments and theses brought by the author, which in most cases were of declarative character, were not corroborated with real facts and very often contradicted one other.

The author had chosen the “scare tactics” as a means of persuading the Armenian party. In particular, in the part “The situation in the region: the Armenian party” the author tried to describe the development prospects of Armenia in the darkest colors by using the following formulations: “Isolation of Armenia”, “Armenia’s vulnerability within its closed borders”, “global economic crisis presents a real threat for Armenia”, “Russia stops subsidizing the gas exported to Armenia”, “ten-year development “boom” comes to an end”, etc.

Meanwhile the situation in Azerbaijan is described in a rather different way: “Azerbaijan is changing due to its rich oil reserves” , “the international reputation of the country is today much more influential”, “today Azerbaijan has 50 embassies abroad”, “a grandiose military parade took place in Baku”, “Azerbaijan demonstrates its newly-acquired military might to the world”. The author compared the military potential of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the analogous manner.

Speaking about Azerbaijan the author has used such assertions as: “in 2008 the military budget of Azerbaijan exceeds the military budget of Armenia three times”, “Azerbaijan buys a great number of new equipment”, “American and Turkish instructors train the personnel”, etc.

Whereas Armenia was favored with only one positive evaluation – “deeper martial traditions exist in the Armenian Armed Forces, and they continue playing a leading role in the Armenian society”. However, it was immediately leveled with the statement that “this, in its turn, brings to the corruption and distortions in the economy”.  The assessment of the military might of a state is one of the actual tasks of military-scientific researches. The methodology of the solution of this task is not simple, as it deals with heterogeneous indices, characterizing various resources. 

In the technical sense the correlation of the potentials of the two republics was reduced to the comparison of the air park of the air forces and the reactive systems of volley fire of high caliber, as a result of which the author came to the conclusion that “the technical basis of the Armenian air forces is much more modest”.

In the meantime the military might of any country involves several potentials: economic, scientific, military, moral-psychological and social. The author superficially touched only two of the above-mentioned potentials. Whereas it’s hardly possible to get an objective assessment of the military might of Armenia and Azerbaijan, without analyzing the whole complex of the mentioned aspects.

With this comparison the author also tries to lead the key players to the idea that it is impossible to keep the status-quo in the future, as “the defeated party feels itself surer and surer and impatiently craves for changing it (the status) in its favor”.

Meanwhile, fearing that the analysis of the situation, suggested in this report, may somehow play into the hands of the revanchist forces in Azerbaijan, the author of the report warns against hasty conclusions: “To conclude with I would like to say that there is not any real military solution of the conflict for Azerbaijan and that the military aggression may lead to a catastrophe for the country”.

Three possible scenarios of war have also been covered in the report. From the military viewpoint, the given modeling may hardly present any interest, as it is of superficial character and contains general phrases.

On the whole, Thomas de Waal, justifying his surname, under the cover of an expert-peacemaker practically calls Azerbaijan to unleash a new big war in the South Caucasus. Meanwhile, it seems to him that he and his like will not be responsible for anything. But he is mistaken… 

The Analytical Service of the NKR MFA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
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