Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh

Delivered in Plenary - 6th July 2011

Mr President

The Nagorno-Karabakh question is often described as a frozen conflict but this is far from the truth. It is actually thawing very rapidly with an increase in sniper fire at the line of contact, escalating Armenian casualties and the possibility now of a full-scale war breaking out, dragging in Iran and Russia on one side and Turkey on the other. This is extremely dangerous.

The massive flow of petrodollars is now financing a regional arms race, with Baku buying large amounts of big-ticket military items, trebling its defence budget and making increasingly bellicose noises about recapturing NK, and with the much smaller Armenia, with Russian help, desperately trying to catch up.

It is clear to all of those who know the region that Stepanakert will never accept direct Azeri rule, but of course, Armenia must withdraw from the surrounding occupied raions and allow all the IDPs to return. In my view and I am sorry to contradict Mr Provera who is a great friend neither self-determination nor territorial integrity are absolute principles. Everybody has to be flexible in foreign policy so we cannot apply them absolutely.

I urge the Minsk Group now, particularly after the failure at Kazan, to try to resolve this dispute and to redouble their efforts, particularly with the help of the EU Special Representative for frozen conflicts. I would say to Lady Ashton that this is her chance to win a Nobel Peace Prize if she can resolve this one.