Since the April War, there has been no let-up in Azeri sponsored violations. Azerbaijan has continued to attack our forward position with sniper fire, mortar and artillery shells, and never ending probing actions causing casualties that we can ill afford to sustain indefinitely. The Minsk Group countries seem more concerned with protecting their geostrategic interests vis-a-vis Azerbaijan (as well as with Turkey) than in responding to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s military adventurism that creates a potentially explosive situation along the LoC.
Given the parochial national interests of the Minsk Group countries, their hands-off policy with respect to Azerbaijan is not about to change in the near future, if at all. In fact, the Co-chairs are as much a part of the problem as is Azerbaijan.
As a result, the passing year has brought us no closer to independence. Negotiations continue, but without any substantive results. President Aliyev’s constant reference to Azerbaijan’s military strength and setting-up Armenians as the strawman for his country’s ills has actually benefitted us. As a result, he has put himself in a position where any compromise could very well result in a coup d’etat by the military, which would end his family’s political and financial dynasty. To strengthen his hold on power, a rigged referendum in 2016 created the position of Vice President, to which the President appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva. He is engaged in a high stakes gamble that has no guarantee of success.
Objectively, we are on the losing end of the negotiation process through no fault of our own. However, as has been mentioned many times in the past, the negotiation process was never meant to result in Artsakh’s independence.
Let us look at the recent comment of President Francois Hollande of France, a friend of Armenia. When he met with the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations of France in Paris recently he commented that “we must open real negotiations for the resolution of the [Artsakh] conflict. We need to find elements of conflict resolution. We know them: they have been fixed; these are the Madrid principles… They will lead, if they are applied, to the self-determination of Nagorno-Karabagh.” Note the reference to Nagorno-Karabagh and not Artsakh. How can that be of comfort to Artsakh; to the Diasporan Armenians; or to Armenian President Serge Sarkisian (though Sarkisian seems to support evacuating the liberated territories to achieve peace in the region)?