Peace in the South Caucuses

On Wednesday 9th October the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Room witnessed a variety of speakers discussing what has been called a forgotten issue. It is rare to hear the words Nagorno-Karabagh in the Houses of Parliament, and even when it is mentioned it seems to quickly have a shadow cast upon it by the more ‘relevant’ issues. The event was organised by the foreign policy centre, supported by the European Friends of Armenia. The Keynote speaker was Ambassador Phillipe Lefort, EU special representative for the South Caucuses. Other speakers included Craig Oliphaunt, senior advisor at the Safer World NGO; Dr Michael Kambek Secretary General of European Friends of Armenia; Dr Laurance Broers, Caucuses Project Manager at Conciliation Resources and Con Coughlin; defence editor at the Daily Telegraph. The event was chaired by Gemma Doyle MP, a Shadow Defence minister in Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet.

The speakers explored issues such as the role and success of the OSCE, the role of various nations in the peace process, the issue of border friction and confidence building attempts to help remove this hindrance in the peace process, and the future of the peace process, among many other issues. After a series of short speeches there was a string of questions from the floor, most notable of which came from Baroness Cox, who mentioned the horrible treatment of Armenian refugees during the war in places such as Baku and Sumgait, and the aftermath of these.

All in all the event highlighted that the Karabagh issue is not completely forgotten and the general tone of the seminar seemed to suggest a general indication from the entire panel that Azerbaijan is the more stubborn party, it also generally seemed to indicate that Russia’s involvement in the process was counter-productive as they follow their own agenda. Though the seminar answered many questions, even more still remain unanswered. Perhaps the most important unanswered question is how long must the people of Karabagh watch other de-facto nations in similar positions be internationally accepted while they wait for a guarantee of territorial integrity and peace?

— Vahe Boghosian

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