The recent flareups in Nagorno-Karabakh have shown that the conflict is far from a “frozen” one. As the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalates, Russia has increasingly pursued the role of the leading mediator between the two sides, working alongside the United States and France within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.
But what are Russia’s own goals in mediating — or perpetuating — the conflict? And what are the limits to its control of the situation? On May 26, 2016 the Center on Global Interests hosted a discussion with Sergey Markedonov, a leading Russian expert on the Caucasus, and John Evans, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.
Markedonov outlined the reasons for the current impasse in the conflict, saying the main roadblock to an agreement was that both sides are exerting “maximalist demands” on the other side. According to Markedonov, in the absence of a possible agreement, Russia’s main interest is to preserve the status-quo in order to avoid an escalation of violence. Ambassador Evans discussed the role of the OSCE in mediating the conflict, and said the process must continue despite its shortfalls in achieving a resolution. However, according to Evans, the main task of reconciliation must be devolved to local people on the ground, who have past experience with coexistence and the greatest stake in achieving lasting peace.
About the Speakers:
Sergey Markedonov is an Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. He has previously held visiting fellowships at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 2010-2013, the Center for Russia and Central Asia Studies at Fudan University (Shanghai, China) in 2015, and at the Center for Central Eurasian Studies at the University of Mumbai in January-February, 2016. His extensive writings on security issues in the Caucasus and Russian foreign policy have been published in the journals Central Asia and The Caucasus Journal of Social and Political Studies and Russia in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, openDemocracy, and many others.
John M. Evans, a career Foreign Service Officer who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia from 2004 to 2006, stirred controversy in February 2005 by publicly dissenting from the policy of the Bush Administration on the 90-year-old issue of the Armenian Genocide. A native of Williamsburg, Virginia, educated at Yale and Columbia, Evans served in Tehran, Prague, Moscow, Brussels (NATO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, St. Petersburg and Washington, reaching the rank of Minister-Counselor. He is the author of Truth Held Hostage: America and the Armenian Genocide: What Then? What Now?which was published in April and is available at Amazon.com. Now retired from the State Department, he lives with his wife in Washington, D.C.