Opinion - UNPEELING THE ONION: Dennis Sammut wonders why Vladimir Kazimirov is focussing on a very narrow part of the Karabakh story.

This website (commonspace.eu), today published an interview with Vladimir Kazimirov the veteran Russian diplomat who for many years was the key Russian point man on the Karabakh conflict. Kazimirov in today’s interview strongly criticises Baku for the way it is handling the conflict settlement process. The interview is unprecedented in its tone, given who is giving it.

I met Kazimirov on many ocassions, and have found him to be an able and charismatic diplomat of the old school. He came to Baku a few years ago at the invitation of LINKS to speak about the Karabakh conflict. It was an odd affair, attended by senior Azerbaijan government officials including Novruz Mammedov the president’s foreign policy advisor and a number of western ambassadors. As Kazimirov was about to speak five members of the so called “Karabakh Liberation Organisation” KLO disrupted the meeting and started haranguing Kazimirov. This went on for fifteen minutes. There was no violence, and they left quietly, even apologetically after they made their point, and the meeting continued as if nothing had happened.

Meetings attended by Senior state officials are not interrupted in this way often in Baku, and later on I wondered why everybody  remained so calm and composed. But then I have learned a long time ago not to take things at face value in the Caucasus. There is always another angle of the story that one has to look at. In any case it was clear that there was no love lost between Kazimirov and Azerbaijan, and things seem to have taken a turn for the worse this summer as the propaganda war heated up after the failure at Kazan.

But back to Kazimirov’s interview. It sheds light on one or two asspects of the Karabakh conflict settlement process. Kazimirov in this regard has provided a mini Russian version of Wikileaks. Unusually for a Russian diplomat he has written and spoken about his days as the key Russian diplomat dealing with the issue much more than his western counterparts ever did. The commonspace interview is in this mode too, as was an earlier interview he gave to the website in June. In as much as Kazimirov is opening up what has been nearly twenty years of secret negotiations on Karababkh one can only welcome his contribution.

Kazimirov however goes further. He takes exception to the way Baku has been spinning the conflict and conflict settlement process, and in rather strong language. A lot of what he says may or may not be true – I can only judge on the public side of things since unlike Kazimirov I was never directly involved in the negotiations. But what he is saying is clearly a very narrow part of the story. It is not what Kazimirov is saying that I am worried about, it is what he is not saying. And I wonder why?

The Karabakh conflict is like an onion. You unpeel one layer only to find that there are many others left to go. Kazimirov has unpeeled one layer of the onion and thinks that the job is done. Far from it.


(c) commonspace.eu

Dennis Sammut is the Executive Director of LINKS and a regular contributor to the international media on issues related to the Caucasus and European security. he may be contacted at www.links-dar.org

Related articles

Editor's choice
Borrell tells the European Parliament that the situation in Afghanistan was critical, but the EU will remain engaged

Borrell tells the European Parliament that the situation in Afghanistan was critical, but the EU will remain engaged

Borrell underlined that the European Union will make every effort to support the peace process and to remain a committed partner to the Afghan people. "Of course, we will have to take into account the evolving situation, but disengagement is not an option.  We are clear on that: there is no alternative to a negotiated political settlement, through inclusive peace talks.