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January 1, 2010


Yerevan—Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) Director Richard Giragosian issued a statement today criticizing Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s renewed “threats of war.”  The statement, entitled “Azerbaijan’s New Year Message: Wishes for War,” highlighted the fact that in most countries, leaders usually address their people with a traditional New Year’s message that seeks to convey a message of cooperation, peace and prosperity.  But in the case of Azerbaijan, this New Year’s message for 2010 was one of war.  Sadly, the militant threats and aggressive rhetoric emanating from Baku was a disturbing message for Yerevan.  But it was also a warning to the international community that peace and security in the South Caucasus will not be a certainty for 2010.

In the words of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, his New Year’s message for the coming year was a stark warning that “Azerbaijan is strengthening its military potential,” which he vowed was “increasing day by day” and was “being strengthened in terms of weapons and equipment.”  Further explaining the deeper meaning behind such threatening language, the Azerbaijani leader warned that Baku has the “military effectiveness” and will “use all our means to solve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabagh conflict.”

Such militant words of war are still empty threats, however, as the exaggerated boasts of Azerbaijan’s military strength remain remote from the reality of the poor state of readiness and inferior capability of the Azerbaijani armed forces.  But the bellicose warnings and threats by the Azerbaijani leadership only threaten regional security and stability, an even more disturbing fact in the wake of the war in Georgia in August 2008.  Clearly, Azerbaijan has failed to learn the primary lesson from the Georgia war—that there is no military solution to essentially political problems.  And for Nagorno Karabagh, Azerbaijan’s bluff and bluster only reaffirms the impossibility of any return to Azerbaijani control.

Ironically, such threats from Azerbaijan only reveal their lack of sincerity and questionable commitment to international mediation efforts seeking a negotiated resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.  Such rhetoric also demonstrates the dubious and futile nature of Turkey’s demands for concessions from Armenia over Karabagh.

Thus, with the start of a new year, the South Caucasus deserves real diplomacy rather than a reliance on a war of words in which Azerbaijan only recycles the same threats of war over Karabagh.  Sadly, for the people of the South Caucasus, 2010 promises to be yet another year of challenges and threats to lasting stability and security in the region.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

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