[Editorial Analysis] Crisis in Caucasus: On Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
Mains level: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Context:

• The ongoing fighting between Armenian rebels and the Azerbaijani Army in Nagorno-Karabakh, a self-declared republic within Azerbaijan, risks becoming a wider regional conflict.

Origin of the Conflict:

• Though Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russia-mediated ceasefire last week after days of fighting, the truce crumbled immediately amid a blame game.

• Whatever the truth is, an emboldened Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, seems determined to press ahead with its offensive.

• The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is decades old. The region, largely populated by ethnic Armenians, is located within the international boundaries of Azerbaijan.

• Under the Soviet Union, it was an autonomous province that was part of the Azerbaijan republic.

• In 1988, when the Soviet power was receding, the regional assembly in Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join Armenia, triggering ethnic clashes.

• After the Soviet disintegration in 1991, Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over this largely mountainous, forested enclave.

• By the time a ceasefire was reached in 1994, the rebels, with support from Armenia and Russia, had established their de facto rule and extended their influence to the Armenian border.

• Ever since, the border has remained tense.

Intervention:

• What makes the clashes now far more dangerous is the external intervention.

• Turkey has called Armenia a threat to peace in the region; the Azeris and Turks share ethnic and linguistic bonds.

• Also, the pre-Soviet Azerbaijan was a local ally of the Ottomans when they invaded Transcaucasia in the last leg of World War I.

• For Turkey, which, under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is trying to expand its geopolitical reach to the former Ottoman regions, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is an opportunity to enter the South Caucasus.

• Turkey also has a particularly bad relationship with Armenia. But its problem is that Armenia is a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

• Russia enjoys good economic and defence ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

• But Armenia, as a CSTO member and host to a Russian military base, has more weight.

• In a wider conflict, Armenia could trigger Article 4 of the CSTO treaty and ask for Russian help.

• And if Moscow responds favourably, that would pit Russia against Turkey, a NATO member.

• Russia, already involved in military conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Libya, may not like opening another front.

• That is why it has re-emphasised its neutrality and hosted talks in Moscow for a truce. But it will be forced to take sides if the conflict spills into Armenia.

• Both sides should understand the volatile situation and call off the hostilities.

• Nagorno-Karabakh has in the past witnessed large-scale ethnic violence.

• Instead of risking a regional war, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Karabakh rebels should go back to the ceasefire and open up diplomatic channels.

Conclusion:

• Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Karabakh rebels should go back to the ceasefire.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Diffie–Hellman key exchange, consider the following statements:

1. Diffie–Hellman key exchange is a method of securely exchanging cryptographic keys over a public channel

2. The method allows two parties that have no prior knowledge of each other to jointly establish a shared secret key over an insecure channel.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Describe the origin of Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict. What are Madrid principles? What are the roles can be played by India to resolve the conflict?

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