In spite of the fact that a truce has by and large held between the two nations for over eighteen years, people continue to die on the line of contact. In lobbying for Azerbaijan to renounce any future use of force to resolve the drawn-out conflict, Armenia has met with disbelief from its neighbor. Azerbaijan believes that with 20 percent of its territory under occupation, such conditions are out of the question. Each side continues to see the conflict exclusively from its own viewpoint – a fact which brings it no closer to resolution. Under these circumstances, armed skirmishes and confrontations on the front line may not come as a surprise.
However, recent events, including the rapid increase in casualties on both sides, have attracted the attention of the broader international community, members of which have expressed their concern about the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. Such concern over the state of affairs spurred public figures from Azerbaijan and Armenia to meet in the Georgian village of Tekali, which borders both countries, to carry out civil hearings on the topic “Ceasefire violations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border: is it realistic for the public to intervene?”
This meeting saw the first urgent discussion of the prospects of public intervention to manage the Karabakh conflict. In the opinion of the participants, society has, to this day, taken no steps to end hostilities, and remains far removed from what goes on at the border. Participants emphasized that over the course of the 24 years of conflict, a huge divide has emerged between the two peoples, and that Armenian and Azerbaijani civil society organizations now need to cooperate with one another in order to resolve the situation.
The discussion ended with a vote on the initial question – whether public intervention to ensure the cease fire on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border was realistic. The majority – 58 of the meeting’s participants – said it was, while only six expressed doubts.
And so the meeting in Tekali demonstrated once more the Armenian and Azerbaijani public desire for peace to be established in the conflict zone as quickly as possible – and that hope for an effective means to regulate the conflict lives in the hearts of many of the two countries’ citizens. As we say, hope never dies.