According to a recent study by the peacebuilding organization International Alert, the Nagorny Karabakh conflict has been so impactful to the people of the region that it has begun to shape their identity. Comprised of over 100 in-depth interviews with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh communities, the study “Envisioning Peace: an analysis of grassroots views on the Nagorny Karabakh conflict” gathered data on how the the conflict has affected their lives and their views on the possibilities of peace in the future. The group of people were from urban and rural areas as well as those living in capital cities and internally displaced people settlements. Participants iterated that conflict was a normality within these nations. They basically admitted that their lives’ have been shaped by conflict—they have adjusted to this way of life. What’s more, the responses of the participants pointed to the difficulty of conflict resolution. However, respondents also expressed desire or hope for resolution.
Despite the unfortunate normal nature of the conflict, the participants had views on resolution and who should be responsible for working towards resolution. Those living along the Line of Contact or international border who have been affected by the conflict personally, push for peaceful resolution. However, those in Armenia and Azerbaijan who live further away hold more patriotic opinions. Furthermore, most of the respondents believe that the road to resolution lies in the hands of the older male generation as they tend to uphold patriarchal gender roles. However, those from Nagorny Karabakh feel that all people should hold responsibility in resolving the conflict. Regardless on the opinions of who should deal with the conflict, many of the respondents stated that conflict resolution is too great a feat to complete on their own and that OSCE Minsk Group, the United States or Russia should aid in the situation.
Carey Cavanaugh, retired US ambassador and former co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and now Chairman of the Board of International Alert, states that this study is significant when looking for ways to resolve this conflict. Based on the responses, Cavanaugh supports and believes in peaceful attempts at resolution for these people affected by constant conflict.
As time passes, “Envisioning Peace” will hopefully help lead to a peaceful and successful resolution to the conflict in the Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh communities.
By Shirin Mahdavi