The negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh collapsed Oct. 9 after two days of intense talks in Moldova between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, France and the United States. Talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh region — where Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war in the 1980s — have taken place for decades, but continually collapse. Negotiations in recent weeks had seen much progress, however, with a clear roadmap between Baku and Yerevan emerging over how to proceed with the disputed region. Under the current negotiations, Armenia would halt military and political support for Nagorno-Karabakh while Azerbaijan gave the region special status inside Azerbaijan and opened a travel corridor between Nagorno-Karabkh and Armenia. The reason publicly given by both countries for the talks' failure was that not all regions inside of Nagorno-Karabakh had signed on to such a deal, and many were unhappy they did not have a seat at the negotiating table. There were two much larger tussles taking place that could have been the real cause of the talks' collapse, however. First, Turkey — which closed its borders with Armenia after the war in Nagorno-Karabakh in solidarity with Azerbaijan — has been in negotiations to normalize relations with Armenia, much to Azerbaijan's dismay. To calm Baku, Ankara has said it will push for a resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh before Turkey and Armenia normalize relations. The signing of the protocol for normalization between Turkey and Armenia is set for Oct. 10. With the talks on Nagorno-Karabakh having collapsed, however, such a signing seems uncertain. According to STRATFOR sources in Baku, because of the collapsed talks, Turkey will not sign the full protocol. Instead Turkey will sign a more vague protocol calling for a future normalization. No set rules would be established on exactly how that normalization will take place, meaning more negotiations would be needed. The agreement between Armenia and Turkey thus may be highly symbolic, but it would still not be substantive. The second tussle impacting both the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations and the normalization of Turkish-Armenian negotiations is the escalating U.S.-Russian standoff. Russia has been fully involved in — if not the puppet master of — the negotiations between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. But the United States has resumed its involvement in the negotiations. Washington recently tried to prevent Russia from striking side deals strengthening Moscow's relationship with Yerevan, Baku and Ankara. And Washington has constantly competed with Moscow on whether Turkey is to be allowed to strengthen Ankara's relationships in the Caucasus. So as the talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan collapse, STRATFOR has two main questions:
What was the main cause for the Nagorno-Karabakh talks collapse — the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Yerevan, Baku, Ankara, Washington or Moscow?
Will Turkey honor its agreement with Azerbaijan not to normalize relations with Armenia until after the Nagorno-Karabakh situation is settled?
The answers to these questions will tell us how each country will proceed in their various regional struggles, along with how well the United States and Russia can use these countries within their much larger competition.
Armenia, Azerbaijan: The Nagorno-Karabakh Talks Collapse