나고르노-카라바흐 둘러싼 아제르바이잔-아르메니아 분쟁, 중재자 절실

[아시아엔=메흐메트 파이트 오즈타르수 기자·번역 최정아 기자] 지난 5일(현지시간) 아제르바이잔과 아르메니아가 두 국가 간 분쟁 지역인 ‘나고르노-카라바흐’(Nagorno Karabakh)에서 휴전을 선언했다. 나고르노-카라바흐 자치구는 공식적으로 아제르바이잔에 속해있는 영토지만, 아르메니아의 지원을 받고 있는 지역이다. 아제르바이잔-아르메니아 분쟁, 어디서부터 시작된 것일까.

‘나고르노-카라바흐’를 둘러싼 양국 간 영토분쟁은 1988년으로 거슬러 올라간다. 아르메니아가 나고르노-카라바흐 자치구를 자신의 땅이라고 주장하면서 본격적인 분쟁이 시작됐다. 양국은 휴전조약이 체결된?1994년까지 교전을 이어갔다.

앞서 아제르바이잔과 아르메니아 군대는 지난 2일 새벽부터 나고르노-카라바흐 지역에서 국지전을 벌여 양측 30명이 사망했다. 지난 1994년 나고르노-카라바흐 지역 휴전 협정 체결 이후 최대 규모였다. 아제르바이잔 정부는 나가르노-카라바흐 지역의 아르메니아계 분리주의자들과의 전투로 지난 이틀 동안 16명의 자국 군인과 민간인 1명이 추가로 사망했다고 밝혔으나, 구체적인 사상자 통계는 확인되지 않은 상태다.

그러나 ‘선제공격을 누가했느냐’를 두고 양측 주장이 엇갈리고 있다. 아르메니아 당국은 아제르바이잔이 공격을 했다고 주장하고 있으나, 아제르바이잔은 이를 부인했다. 하지만, 양국 교전을 자세히 들여다보면 의문점이 몇 있다.

첫째, 아르메니아 당국은 이례적으로 사상자 수를 정확하고 신속하게 발표했다. 일반적으로 아르메니아는 사상자를 발표하지 않는다.

둘째, 아르메니아 언론들은 ‘아제르바이잔이 선공했다’는 전제 하에 교전상황을 분석하고 있다. 그리고 아르메니아는 이를 외교수단으로 활용하고 있다. 언론을 통해 아제르바이잔에 대한 부정적 이미지를 만들고 있는 것이다.

셋째, 세르즈 사르키샨 아르메니아 대통령은 아르메니아와 나고르노-카라바흐 자치구의 분리주의자 간 합의를 이뤄냈다. 아르메니아계 분리주의자들이 나고르노-카라바흐 지역의 독립을 요구하고 있는 상황에도 불구하고 이뤄졌다. 이는 아르메니아가 나고르노-카라바흐 지역의 독립을 원하지 않는다는 방증이다. 아르메니아가 원하는 것은 나고르노-카라바흐 지역을 이용해 아제르바이잔과 세력균형을 이루는 것이지, 이들의 독립이 아니다.

그렇다면 아제르바이잔과 아르메니아 분쟁을 해결하기 위한 방안은 무엇일까. 양국은 중재자가 절실한 실정이다. 사르키샨 아르메니아 대통령은 러시아의 충고를 받아들일 준비가 되어 있으며, 북서부에 주둔하고 있는 러시아 군과의 합동군사훈련을 요청하는 등의 제스처를 보이고 있다.

한편 오랜 교전끝에 나고르노-카라바흐 지역을 수복한 아제르바이잔도 아르메니아와 평화협정을 준비할 것이란 관측이 나오고 있다.

나고르노-카라바흐와 접경지인 아제르바이잔 테르테르에서 3일(현지시간) 군인들이 아르메니아군과의 전투로 부상을 입은 사람을 병원으로 옮기고 있다.

나고르노-카라바흐와 접경지인 아제르바이잔 테르테르에서 3일(현지시간) 군인들이 아르메니아군과의 전투로 부상을 입은 사람을 병원으로 옮기고 있다. <사진=신화사/뉴시스>

What Really Happened in Nagorno Karabakh?

The Nagorno Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia started in 1988 with the territorial claims of Armenians over the land of Azerbaijan. Until the year of 1994 when ceasefire treaty was signed, Armenian troops occupied 20% of Azerbaijani territories including Nagorno Karabakh region and seven more districts.

On April 2, one of the bloodiest clashes began on the contact line of Nagorno Karabakh. 12 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed but there is no specific and reliable source for common deaths and injures. According to Armenian officials, Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire regime one day before and Azerbaijani officials claim that Armenians attacked military vehicles of Azerbaijan firstly.

There is an inexplicable view if we look at into details. Firstly, Armenian officials gave the exact number of Armenian casualties quickly. Generally, they don’t give any information about soldier deaths during the routine clashes on the contact line.

Secondly, all Armenian media organizations scramble to explain the situation under the keyword “Azerbaijani aggression”. This explanation has been an important tool for Armenian state policy on Nagorno Karabakh conflict by now. Most of the news about the latest clash were written with this magic word.

Thirdly, Serzh Sargsyan, Armenian president, offered a Common Defence Agreement between Armenia and the separatist administration of Nagorno Karabakh. It is important to analyze why the president has preferred this timeline to make this type of offer. Armenia which does not recognize the independence of this separatist Armenian administrative and illegally controls the region looks for a change of status quo in the region. But the status quo might be changed by a war.

Can we expect a war?

Both Baku and Yerevan are not satisfied with the casualties of numerous clashes around the contact line since 1994 when the ceasefire agreement was signed. Domestic political developments and regional politics pinned down two sides to take radical decisions.

The ‘Shant-2015’ military exercises of Armenian Defense Ministry were conducted in the first week of September 2015. Unlike during previous exercises, the public’s preparation for a possible war was measured. ‘Shant-2015’ was interesting and important because for the first time the capabilities of a country which have had serious disagreements with Azerbaijan were evaluated in a scenario of regional warfare. The general staff also underlined preparedness for geopolitical changes and transformation, and that it had informed the military attaches of foreign missions. But the public dimension of the exercise was also interesting because Armenia was able to identify its priorities in a case of total warfare.

Shortly after the ‘Shant-2015’ military exercise, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry held military exercises on Sept. 6-13 with 65,000 troops, 700 armored vehicles, 500 units of rocket and heavy arms equipment, 40 jets, 50 helicopters and 20 vessels taking part. The authorities had announced that the goal of the exercise was to prepare the army for potential warfare, to mobilize, bomb targets with unmanned vehicles and rockets, and to prepare the army for growing challenges. Azerbaijani media said that the exercise was a response to ‘Shant-2015’. It is also noted that military strategy for Nagorno Karabakh and Nakhchivan regions was practiced.

On one hand, the army of Azerbaijan has been modernized for several years. Azerbaijan may want to use its capacity, its modern arms and its accumulated wealth. On the other hand, there is a big desire of the Azerbaijani army to recapture the lost territories. Armenia knows very well what will happen if there would be some kind of provocations in the region towards Azerbaijan. But same Armenia does not accept the offers of Azerbaijan to withdraw Armenian soldiers from Nagorno Karabakh and other regions for reconciliation.
If we look at the side of Armenia, we can see a political conflict in domestic side. The Nagorno Karabakh problem had been a lifeline for Armenian authorities. The daily agenda of the country about illegal activities of Armenian oligarchy and corruption cases would be changed by the deaths of soldiers on the contact line. “National solidarity” issue would become a new daily agenda during this period.

The term of president Serzh Sargsyan, the head of powerful oligarchy, will come to an end in 2018. If there is no intervention to law regulations, he will not be able to rule the country but he can present a candidate.

A referendum was held in late 2015 to eliminate political risks about his rule. The referendum which was aimed at bringing about constitutional changes that would decrease the authority given to the president while increasing the power of its parliament was met by a 63 percent “yes” vote. One-half of eligible Armenian voters chose to vote. Worries are already being voiced that Sargsyan, who would not be able to be president for the third time in a row, would try to remain in a powerful position through the role of prime minister.

Sargsyan, as a former commander in Nagorno Karabakh, needs a victory during this period to intensify his power. Thus war rhetoric increases and contact line violations continue as addition to blaming Azerbaijan as an aggressor state.

It is obvious that Armenian side was expecting a big clash because Armenian websites shared several videos on the internet about the downing of Azerbaijani helicopter and bodies of dead soldiers during the day.

Some Armenian analysts blamed Ankara by claiming a possible Turkish role in the tension. They defend that Azerbaijan supports Turkey about Turkish-Russian crisis so Ankara and Baku can make new plans for the region. It seems that they want to create a general view as Armenia-Russia and Azerbaijan-Turkey alliances are clashing.

There is a necessity to find a mediator. Sargsyan is also prepared to follow any Moscow directives where the now tense Turkish-Russian relations are concerned. He may well offer any support demanded secretive military operations at the Russian military base in Gyumri.

At this period, Azerbaijan can put in hand the captured lands and might be ready to offer a reconciliation

Leave a Reply