By Sara Rajabova
2015 become another year of no effect in settlement of the long-standing Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which emerged over Armenia's territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor.
The efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group – international framework established to settle the problem – haven’t yielded desired results so far. On the contrary, the stalemate in the conflict resolution led to dangerous activation of the military operations on the contact line of the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces.
Ilgar Velizade, head of political scientists club ‘South Caucasus’ considers that the military-political situation in the conflict zone will remain tense in 2016. He told Day.Az website that the escalation of tension has already led to the fact that the ceasefire regime hasn’t been observed for a long time.
The weak dynamics in the negotiation process, obviously, "compensated" with quite high political-military activity in the region, he added.
“During the whole year, the Azerbaijani Army has carried out massive military tactical exercises near the frontline attracting all types of troops that might be involved in possible military operations in the conflict zone, working over the various scenarios of military operations, maximally close to reality. Such a scale of exercises could not but attract the attention of the opposing side, which actively tried to influence the OSCE Minsk Group in order to compel them to force Azerbaijan to abandon this line,” the expert said.
2015 can be characterized as a year of numerous clashes of the Armenian and Azerbaijani troops, increased provocation of the Armenian side, as well as more losses from both sides.
Standing strong against Armenia's unceasing operations along the line of contact, the Azerbaijani leadership further empowered the military and has moved to formulate the necessary armament policy by adhering to international requirements. The country also regularly holds military drills to check the training level and fighting capability of the army.
Velizade further noted that now the Armenian side is using its chairmanship at the CSTO with a view to hide behind this organization and send message to Baku.
“But, judging by the results, these efforts did not give the desired effect. None of the closest allies of Yerevan expressed readiness to condemn Baku, preferring loud and significant silence,” the expert underlined.
Asked about the possibility of renewal of bloody war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the expert did not rule out such a scenario.
“The probability of war always exits. In fact, the war has never ended. Today, forms and methods of waging wars have seriously changed. Today, the presence of the ceasefire is not a hindrance for the resumption of war. Latent, positional war with use of various weapons is already underway,” Velizade believes.
He stressed that only the will of Azerbaijan’s political leadership and objectively folding conditions prevent the possibility of an open conflict.
“It seems that the Azerbaijani side expects that full-scale armed conflict with Armenia can serve to the plans of external forces, which will use it to pursue their political strategy in the region, when Armenia can become a tool, and Azerbaijan will be the likely victim. Preferring to act with small but effective steps, Baku is clearly in no hurry in playing to a hand of such plans,” Velizde concluded.
For over two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict, which is a source of major instability in the South Caucasus region. Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.
A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994, but long-standing efforts by U.S., Russian and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far. Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on its pullout from the neighboring country's territories.