Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly announced that the Karabakh conflict is over because Baku has solved it through brute force. Azerbaijani officials, in their turn, never miss the opportunity to reiterate what their president has said since the disastrous 44-Day War in 2020.
But the actions of the international community demonstrate that Azerbaijan has not quite issued the final verdict on the situation and that for some parties involved, the conflict remains unresolved.
Recent events have brought to light more saliently that the international community, particularly the West, has been taking the issue into its own hands, to the intense displeasure of Azerbaijan.
Two specific events demonstrated the differences shown by the two sides: one was a recent gathering in Shushi, where Azerbaijan invited representatives of 60 countries, to show off the reconstruction of the city which they had bombed during the war, and the other was the appointment of a seasoned US diplomat, Philip T. Reeker, as the new US co-chair to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group.
In the first instance, the representatives of two countries, the US and France, who serve as co-chairs of the Minsk Group, along with Russia, were demonstrably absent from Shushi, drawing the ire of Azerbaijani officials, because that absence sent a clear message that the reality was not the way Baku leaders represent it to the diplomatic community.
The second initiative had scared Azerbaijani leaders stiff, because that appointment meant the resurrection of the Minsk Group and its mandate to take up the unfinished task in the South Caucasus.