Dialogue for Peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan

April 25, 2016

Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 the two former Soviet Republics, Armenia and Azerbaijan are in the state of war over Nagorno-Karabakh. But the present-day conflict has its roots in the decisions made by Joseph Stalin and the Caucasian Bureau (Kavburo) in the early 1920s. The small region of Nagorno-Karabakh, about 4.000 square kilometers and less than 200.000 inhabitants, was allotted by the then Commissioner for nationalities to the Republic of Azerbaijan despite the fact that about 3/4 of the people living there were ethnic Armenians. To respect their cultural rights Nagorno-Karabakh got the status of an autonomous district (“oblast”) within the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.

But already in the last years of the Soviet Union, starting in 1987, tensions and armed conflicts broke out, and the fighting had grown into a full-scale war by the end of 1991. While the majority Armenian population of the oblast unilaterally declared their independence as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the Parliament of the Azerbaijan SSR abolished the autonomous status of the Oblast and its internal administrative borders. When the Soviet Union dissolved, the Nagorno-Karabakh region was reaffirmed by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884 as part of the newly independent Republic of Azerbaijan. So there is an unsolved conflict between the right to self-determination and the right to territorial integrity that cannot be decided by weapons, but only through negotiations and a genuine dialogue.

As a result of the fighting not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also surrounding other Azerbaijani districts came under the control of the ethnic Armenian forces of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani minority of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as the Azerbaijani majority population of the surrounding districts has fled to the territory under Azerbaijani control. By the end of 1993, the conflict had caused thousands of casualties and created hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides. On May 12, 1994 a cease-fire was reached through Russian mediation.

But the cease-fire has been very fragile from the beginning. Again and again there were violations of the cease-fire with casualties and regularly both sides blamed each other to be responsible. At the beginning of April there was again fighting with soldiers and civilians dying. The Presidency of WPFDC reacted with concern and deplored the cease-fire violation and warned against the outbreak of a new war.

The World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” declared its readiness to assist in a dialogue of the parties of the conflict. We are prepared to set up a special working group of experts from the countries concerned and their neighborhood that could work out new acceptable principles for dialogue and conflict prevention in the times of turbulence. The Executive Committee of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” is pleased to invite interested experts, researchers and representatives of business to participate in this endeavor.

Contributions can be published in a special forum of our website following the principles below:

- We do not take side in the conflict but want to open a constructive dialogue.
- Contributions should not deal with mutual allegations but should concentrate on solution and compromise.
- It is not the past but the future without war and a peaceful neighborhood of Armenia and Azerbaijan we are interested in.

If you want to contribute or to participate in the working group please contact info@wpfdc.org