By Nasrin Suleymanli
2012 will be symbolized by the electoral process of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, which is involved in the resolution process of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Thus, the problem in the region has been frozen for a while. France and Russia have elected their presidents. According to one analytical calculation, the U.S. electoral process will result in Obama’s victory. The expert also predicted a more decisive Obama victory if he can thoroughly alleviate fears regarding Iran. However, Obama’s policy toward the South Caucasus will not differ from Bush’s politics. Currently, the Middle East and Pacific regions are more important for the U.S. than the South Caucasus.
Over the past few years, when Obama and Medvedev had been elected, there was hope that the intentions of leaders related to the resolution of the conflict in the region would not just be in their areas of curiosity but also within areas of international concern. It was thought that their approaches to the conflict could be in a different format. Within the strong cooperation of France and the U.S., during his period in the Russian presidency, Medvedev organized nine official trilateral visits with Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders. As we remember, after August 2008 Russia tried to play the main role as a stabilizer in the region. Despite that, nothing happened.
The recent visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the South Caucasus promised to apply pressure on the Minsk Group in the resolution process of the NK conflict in the coming June 18 Paris visit of the conflicting sides’ leaders. Additionally, Clinton was intent on Russia’s immediate withdrawal of armed troops from the territory of the South Caucasus. Russia did not remain silent and reacted immediately. A confrontation on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted again. Almost ten soldiers from both sides were killed, and some hospitalized. Russia even began to test its missiles .Let us note that Russia withdrew its 25,000 armed troops from Chechnya to Dagestan, closer to the border of the South Caucasus. Despite this, it has large amounts of military equipment and troops in Armenia. Even the military spokesman, Col. Igor Gorbul, told that Russian fighter jets stationed at a base in Armenia have conducted about 300 training flights since the beginning of 2012, and right now have increased the number of flying hours by more than 20 percent from last year.
Next year, Armenia and Azerbaijan’s presidential elections will start their electoral process and distract from the conflict resolution process. But the main maneuver will be in 2014 with the new active co-chairs of the Minsk Group and newly-elected presidents of the conflicting sides. It will be up to them to draw a roadmap to further the resolution process. And taking into consideration the Iran-Israel confrontation in the region, it is possible to predict a surprise change in the NK conflict resolution process within the Caucasus context. The third decade of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict promises an altering of the status of quo.