The danger of implementing military power as an inducement for deepening conflicts. An analysis in the context of the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation.
The "forceful" option of solving any conflict is considered to be one of the potential alternative solutions of the conflict. However, the "forceful" option of solution, more than the other options, needs multi-sided and balanced substantiation until the moment it is considered to be the only option of solution. The history of military solutions cannot be characterized as humanistic or fair. Apart from national liberation movements and defensive wars, most military solutions pursue expansionist purposes. Military solutions have taken away numerous human lives, causing huge material damages and sometimes irreparable environmental damages. However, military solutions have always been adopted and still are.

As a weighty argument against a military, "forceful" solution (which is obvious and irrefutable for the humanity), we can mention the fact of irreparable human and material losses. Apart from losses among soldiers, no war can be free from casualties among the peaceful population. And the population may die not only from shells and famine. It can be proven by the broken fates and lives of hundred thousands of refugees and exiled people. Let's move from theoretical formulations to specific facts. In the battles of Nagorno-Karabakh, the both Armenian and Azerbaijani parts have had about 30.000 casualties. In spite of the fact that the truce signed in 1994 in Bishkek between Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan is observed, the soldiers still get killed from sharpshooter's shots and mine explosions. It is considered that there are about 50.000 anti-infantry mines located in front-line zones of Nagorno-Karabakh [Anthony Richter, “Frozen Hostility” War report, London, September 1996].

As for refugees, there are more than 350.000 of them from the Armenian party. They are mainly the Armenians that used to live in Azerbaijan (Baku, Sumgait, losted part of NK the Shahumyan region) and were exiled, losing their homes and property, and getting established mainly in Armenia. Especially for those people that have seen the horrors of war, the danger of a new war, or even the manipulation/abuse of that idea, can cause big shocks. And the abuse/manipulations do not end from the moment of signing the truce. If the abuse/manipulations can happen on behalf of certain groups or forces of the countries participating in the conflict, the threat of a direct military force, in this case only on behalf of Baku, is impermissible, directly affecting the efforts of peaceful regulation of the issue. Moreover, it can cause new crises that contradict to the idea of establishing long-term peace in the region, as well as to the establishment of an atmosphere of stability, mutual collaboration and favorable dialogues.

Let's try to comment on the warlike declarations on behalf of Baku, based on three important approaches.

==> Going for the "forceful" option of solving the problem, i. e. implementing direct force, and even the threat of implementing the force, is closely connected with the risk factor. Here, sometimes, even the risk may become unmanageable. The degree of risk, while implementing the "forceful" option, depends on the real amount of the problems and their difficulties.

It is necessary to evaluate in a right way the degree of their difficulty, as well as the possibilities to obtain real benefits from that option of solving the problem. The victory gained at the expense of big losses not always provides the expected result. And the defeat means numerous irreparable losses. Besides, the course of any war is unpredictable. That's why policy makers find themselves in dilemmas, or even hopeless situations concerning lots of issues. Such issues can be: the decision about the duration of war based on their resources, the degree of expansion of war, the degree of losses, the issue of the political and military status of the country after the war, etc. In this context, in connection with the Karabakh issue, it should be mentioned that the 250-kilometer zone of contact between the Karabakh military forces and the Azerbaijani army is a complex of two echeloned defensive lines. Apart from that, independent experts consider the Nagorno-Karabakh army the most organized and disciplined army of the region.

While adopting "forceful" solutions", the risk is connected with the absence of any kinds of guarantees: if diplomatic relations and political decisions made as a result of those relations are based on mutual guarantees that strive for more concretization in the course of further negotiations, the "forceful" option of solving problems hardly stipulates mutual obligations (with the exception of exchange of prisoners of war, or, in some cases, adoption of a temporary armistice). Those obligations are also reached through complicated diplomatic ways: the duration and extreme complications of the process of signing a truce at the Karabakh war can be an example of it.

Other arguments against the use force are that the military actions imply their escalation, which creates real possibility for both the involvement of new force and the aggravation and deepening of the confrontation itself. Besides, the military solution is incompatible with any non-military alternative. It has its own logic of development. So, as soon as the military actions start, the conflict gets a new quality and a raw of alternative solutions come to the fore. These variants have been discussed by both Parties during the peaceful- prewar period and now are considered to be useless.

So, if we approach this problem, taking into consideration the fact that the Azerbaijan party has already determined to solve the problem by means of force, the existence of the warlike statements made on various levels and the difference between the accomplishing steps and the reality is illogical The announcements about the restoration of war are made by Baku even since the ratification of the armistice treaty and periodically acquires some aggressive coloring. Actually, the negotiations are pointless if they are valid. But if they pursue certain narrow, short-term political purposes, which are closer to the reality, it should be noted that they become the useless cause of aggravation and carry the menace of creation of a new conflict. One thing is obvious. The peaceful regulation of the Nagorni Karabakh issue is the only way out. It is sought by both the broad masses of Karabakh and Armenia and the Azerbaijan broad masses and the authorities must work into this direction avoiding serious confrontations.

==> This behavior and strange announcements of the Azerbaijan party, threw a shadow on more than 30 meetings held the for peaceful regulation of the question by the President of RA, Robert Kocharian and the Azerbaijan President, H.Aliev and on the mediator work of OCSE Minsk Group which is also directed to the creation of a peaceful way of solution. After all, the behavior of Baku can be regarded as illogical if the Azerbaijan part determines to solve the problem in a diplomatic way and accept the Minsk Group's mission as a mediator fostering the peaceful regulation. Actually this behavior seems to be ambiguous.

This ambiguity carries a serious menace, since being outwardly involved in the peace negotiation activity the Azerbaijan party creates a firm ground for the possible military regulation of this question and in this case it may undertake its own unexpected steps.

==> If we approach this question from the juridical point of view, this announcements and actions undertaken by Baku can be interpreted as steps creating certain juridical consequences.

The democratization of the international relations unavoidably results in the limitation of force and its use with the aim of compulsion.

This objective regularity as a corn of the international relations has been fixed in the UNO legislation. It expresses people's democratic expectations and hope towards the justice regulation of the international postwar relations. In the legislation of UNO we find the following statement "All UN members are to be abstinent from the use of force in their foreign policy or as a means of encroachment upon this or that nation in terms of territorial sovereignty and civil independence as well as any other way of its use able to prevent the UNO objectives" [UNO Chapter, part 2, point 4]. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are full members of UN, whereas Karabakh, according to the two from three possible ways of solution suggested by the OCSE Minsk Group may be represented as being of extraordinary position in UN.

The final act of OCSE says that all the participant nations should renounce force towards any other participant nation .It should be abstinent from any economic policy of compulsion. All this indisputably witnessed that the modern international law prohibits the use of force and its menace with the aim of compulsion [International Law, Yerevan, 1996, 22p]. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are the OCSE members. But the Azerbaijan party has been imposing the economic and transport limitations to Armenia since 1988. Moreover, these limitations are imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey with the aim of inducing the Armenian party to make certain decisions. Actually, the real problem consists in the fact that if the region needs steadiness and mutually profitable relations it should at least be free from any personal ambitions for profit and ready for a large-scale conversation.

After all how the behavior of the Azerbaijan party is expressed, what kind of announcements and steps are made. In this respect it is worth mentioning the publications of last two years.

As it has already been mentioned above, the announcements made by Baku have a periodical character and typical conduct not only for the last five years. In September 2001 the parliamentary delegation of Republic of Armenia turned to the Secretariat of Counsel of Europe with the motion for a recommendation. The motion (proposal) was carried by PACE on October 8 2001. It is called ,,Renunciation of Azerbaijan`s militaristic statements on solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by the use of force,, [PACE. Document N 9257. October 8 2001].

The response of Secretary General V.Shvimer was that while becoming a member of Counsel of Europe Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan took the responsibility for solving the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh exclusively in a peaceful manner and they are obliged to follow it strictly. The two countries become members of Counsel of Europe in January 2001, simultaneously forming part of it and any new conflict completely contradicts the principles of the organization.

2002 is remarkable for the warlike announcements made both by Azerbaijani authorities and especially by the opposition. Though the ones made in 2003 surpass the announcements of the previous year. In 2003 a military cooperation agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and Pakistan. After the assignment on April 11, both sides announced:,,Azerbaijan-Pakistan cooperation develops successfully.

Pakistan is informed about Karabakh and other problems of Azerbaijan. Our President, government and people will help Azerbaijan to release Azerbaijani lands from Armenian aggressors,, said Shahid Navaz, Director of Pakistan National Colleague of Defense. Minister of defense of Azerbaijan Safar Abiyev thanked Pakistan for support and expressed that military cooperation between the two countries will develop. ,, Azerbaijan backs up peaceful resolution of Karabakh problem. Armenia doesn't understand it and we use our right to resolve our lands,, minister said [Baku Today: April 11 2003.].

On condition that the solution of the problem of Karabakh is being carried out by European authoritative structure, the annaunsements and steps made by such high-ranking officials give the least cause for concern and strain already anxious psychological atmosphere.

In Autumn 2003 the debates of the presidential elections in Azerbaijan were particularly full of announcements concerning the restart of war. If such announcements could be expected for instance from nationalist leader of ,,Party of National Independent,, Etibar Mamedov or from the leaders of extreme oppositional party ,,Umid,, i.e. ,,Hope,, , but at least two similar announcements made by the presidential candidate Ilham Aliyev at that time (Baku Today; September-October 2003) might have possible consequences in the policy of the current president I.Aliyev. It is necessary to point out that during the presidential debates in Armenia neither the extreme opposition nor the current president made such announcements.

Minister of defense of RA Serj Sargsyan stated about the official position of RA: ,,The first who start the war will suffer a defeat. Armenian army is ready to resist any danger,,. As to Karabakh, its authorities are more careful towards such announcements. President of Nagorno-Karabakh Arkadi Ghukasyan proclaimed: ,,Unfortunately, we are always ready to war. There is no guarantee that it won't restart tomorrow,,. It is necessary to point out one more expression made by A.Ghukasyan during the last meeting with co-chairman of OCSE Minsk Group, which took place on 5 December 15, 2003, in the capital of NK Stepanakert. ,, It is essentially important to put an end to ideological war,, he mentioned [Republic of Armenia. Daily newspaper: September 2003].

On the whole solutions made by force are popular in policy. The events of the last ten years show that solutions made by force often become leading, in spite of the high level of the contemporary diplomacy. Of course giving priority to such solutions sometimes has an essence of solving temporary political and more often internal political problems.

  • First, in the corresponding situation it is a powerful means to unify society.

  • Second, it is a means to distract the society.

  • The example of this can be the rapid rise of the authority of president of RF V.Putin in 1999, during the start of the new military compaign in Chechnia and also the mass distruction of Russian society from the main matters of the internal policy.

    As to the main problem of Karabakh. New war consequences in South Caucasus, which has seen numerous wars for the last 14 years, will be unpredictable and extremely hard. All the karabakh-war sides must treat very carefully to the self-controlled armistice, which lasts for already 10 years and must contribute to preserving of armistice regime and to solution of the problem in a peaceful manner. Any careless activity or even announcement contains a real danger for the beginning of new crisis and escalation of the conflict.
    © Armenian Atlantic Association