Submitted by James Collins
The most recent military outbreak between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is the continuation of more than three-decades-long dispute over this East-European region. This is not the only active quarrel in Europe in which involved parties cycle between armed conflict and temporary ceasefire, which leads us to the question of why are there so many territorial issues that can’t be resolved for so long either through diplomacy nor international law?
To answer this question, we’ll try and analyze the circumstances and international involvement regarding long-term military conflicts that seem to have no mutually acceptable solution.
Nationalist agenda or ethnic struggle
After the First World War, the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empire lead to the birth and reinstatement of many national states. Also, many countries expanded their territories or created unions that allowed different people to live in the same country; the kingdom of Yugoslavia was one such example, as well as the USSR. However, the dissolution of these unions led to ethnic unrests because newly formed national states now included areas inhabited by people of another ethnicity.
Historic claims and the modern legislature can be confusing, especially for law practitioners and students. If you are studying law and the early history of Europe is giving you problems with writing your assignments or writing an essay, you can try using modern services such as Wrightix. There you can ask about law essay help with experienced writers, which have already made thousands of law essays for students from the United Kingdom.
The problem with international law in these cases is that it views as equal a country’s right to defend its territorial integrity as well as the people’s right to self-determination. That’s why Azerbaijan’s control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region can’t be disputed no more than the right of Armenians who live in this province could be disproved of their right to join their mother state. The same principle applies to ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, or the Russian people living in the eastern part of Ukraine.
In a report issued at the University of Konstanz, Germany, a review of nationalist literature shows that self-determination and civil wars are most likely to persist if the disputed territory is assigned with some sort of symbolic national value, a higher purpose than economic or strategic value. For example, Serbian persistence to maintain control over Kosovo and Metohija, even though the region is vastly inhabited by ethnic Albanians and demands for secession since 1988, is based on historic and cultural sentiments. The southern Serbian province is home to hundreds of Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries, which is the banner under which the Serbian community in Kosovo & Metohija and beyond rallies to dispute the Albanian claim.
On the other side, the Albanians are keeping the flame of freedom alive through the idea of unification with their mother state in an effort to create a Great Albania, a state that will encompass all territories inhabited by ethnic Albanians. In the meantime, Kosovo and Metohija region shows devastating economic metrics, with GDP lower than in any neighboring country. Therefore, the economic motive for dispute falls out of the window, leaving only ethnic struggle as the fuel for ongoing quarrel.
Foreign influence – “divide et impera”
Behind most military disputes there is, almost by rule, a foreign power with a plan of their own. Azerbaijan is a close ally of Turkey and one of its main suppliers of natural gas, while Armenia keeps a close political and military connection with Russia, even hosting a 3000 people strong military base on its territory. NATO-oriented Ukraine represents a potential host for additional US troops next to Russian borders, and Kosovo and Metohija already keeps the largest NATO base in this part of the world. In short, all these troubled regions are screaming with foreign interests.
Through political and military support, Turkish president Erdogan keeps his country’s supply of resources secure as well as the domination over this part of the world. Azerbaijan and Turkey are also tied by national sentiments, which is making their alliance even firmer. However, the Russian Federation, a close ally to Armenia, is still biding its time for deeper involvement in the conflict, which raised more than a few eyebrows at the beginning of the war.
Besides relatively positive diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan, there’s another reason why Putin is still waiting to take more concrete steps, and its depicted in the current political situation in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. The current Armenian PM is not highly regarded in Moscow for his pro-western stand, so one might think that Kremlin is hoping to weak out the public support for the current Armenian government by withholding diplomatic or military support. Both Russia and the people of Armenia know that Azerbaijan is a tough nut to crack without outside assistance.
With the political interests of two powerful players at stake, it’s clear that both Armenia and Azerbaijan will have difficulties solving the issues on their own. At the same time, even if the two parties come to a solution, who’s to say that either Russia or Turkey would not spark the flames when it fits their aspirations.
A valuable mention of foreign influence in long-term conflict is mass media and their undying thirst for international law disputes and war topics. Throughout the years we’ve seen the influence of large cable news networks on international conflicts, their escalation, and declination. For the international community to act, the public opinion needs to be built properly, and sponsoring a certain newsgroup as well as keeping the national media powerhouses under strict control is another way to keep two sides far from a peaceful agreement.
The influence of super-powers oiled with populist politicians heating national unrests is among the main causes of long-term military disputes. At the same time, those in whose name the battles are being waged suffer the consequences. When territorial unrests start taking lives, one has to ask who will enjoy freedom if everyone dies for it.
Author Bio: James Collins is a freelance content writer engaged with several online publishers and content writing services. His work is based on deep research and authentic information. As a writer, Jeremy tends to bring inspirational stories that raise interest and inform the readers.