The desirability of short-term or long-term peacekeeping forces in the region
Armenia and Karabagh -as long as possible.
Azerbaijan, Turkey and MG -as short as possible.
Clearly, the strategic thinking of the immediate parties to the conflict is completely different from what is discussed in the negotiations and gives a much more adequate explanation of the origins and essence of this conflict. Thus, from its very inception in 1992, Minsk Group efforts have suffered from three fundamental functional shortcomings.
First, the strategic worldviews of the parties to the conflict (PTCs), which, incorporate, inter alia, the deepest historical-psychological layers, have not been addressed. In fact, the international mediators have been regularly pooh-poohing the strategic thinking and ensuing wider strategic aims of each of the parties.
Second, Turkey, one of the immediate PTCs, is not identified as such but was instead included in the group of mediators.
Third, another of the immediate PTCs, Armenia, has failed to clearly and openly present, and indeed to fully realize and face, its strategic concerns. Let us consider for a moment a relevant analogy. A small Israel borders a Germany that is by all accounts a non-democratic state.This Germany engages in an ongoing civil war against its biggest minority (analogy with Kurdish problem), occupies part of another country (analogy with Cyprus), and makes raids into another country (Northern Iraq). This Germany also denies the Jewish Holocaust and organizes large scale international campaigns of denial in diplomatic and academic circles; tells this imagined Israel on its borders that it intends to "teach it another lesson" (as, for example, the late Turkish President OzaI as well as other high profile politicians, threatened Armenia); and, finally, imposes a complete blockade on this Israel, the economic result of which equals the result of a full-scale war. There is no doubt that the Israeli government would have tried to explain to the outside world its legitimate security apprehensions. This is something that the Armenian government, for some reason, has not yet done, and this lapse has contributed to the complete indifference of the OSCE mediators to Armenia's long-term strategic security requirements.
In September 1997, Armenia and Azerbaijan accepted the peace proposals presented by the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group.The plan envisaged a two-stage settlement of the conflict. During the first stage, Karabagh Armenian troops were to withdraw from the six occupied districts, the OCSE multinational peacekeeping force was to be deployed between the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, and the blockade of Armenia and Karabagh was to be lifted. However, the second stage was designed so vaguely that it allowed for diametrically different interpretations. Thus, according to the Azerbaijan official understanding, during the second stage, simultaneous negotiations were to be held about the final status of Nagorno-Karabagh and the restoration of full Azerbaijani control over the Lachin corridor and Shushi.  The interpretation of Yerevan and Stepanakert excludes any change in Armenian military control over Lachin and Shushi since the return of Lachin and Shush to Azerbaijan would mean nothing less than the removal of the last vestiges of military security for Nagorno-Karabagh. Consequently, the Azerbaijani position had the effect of negating the entire second stage of negotiations. Moreover, President Aliev, during his much ðublicized July 1997 trip to Washington, created an excellent pretext for Baku to ruin the peace process by appearing to make a concession by "agreeing" to leave the Lachin strip under Armenian control until the second stage of negotiations with the full knowledge that Armenia considered Lachin essentiaI to its security.
It is true that the demilitarization of the "occupied territories" was stipulated in the Minsk Group proposals, but there were no mechanisms to ensure they would remain demilitarized înñå Armenian forces left. Azerbaijan could hàvå violated the demilitarization provision by various means; for example, by introducing regular army units disguised as police, or claiming that Armenian forces had violated the agreement and re-entered those regions, or some other pretext. Second, as we shall see, the OSCE Karabagh peacekeeping force, if implemented, would only remain for a brief period of time, thus making the remilitarization of the currently occupied district by Azerbaijan a matter of inevitability.
The following is a brief discussion of major systemic-structural, and irremediable, flaws of the OSCE Minsk Group plan.
The most notable flaw in the MG peace plan is that it envisages only a very short-term PKF around Karabagh. As I have already mentioned, throughout the last îne hundred years (not to go deeper into history) the development of Armenian-Azeri/Turkish relations has been proceeding along the same lines of antagonism. Unfortunately, there is no rational reason to believe that this situation will change. Despite this, the Minsk Group peace plan calls for a short-term ñîmmitment of peacekeeping forces.The reasons are extraneous to the conflict.
The first reason is financial. According to the calculations of the OSCE High Level planning Group (HLPG), $300 million is required to keep that force for one year, while the OSCE normal annual budget is $30 million. Another source gives an estimated figure of $40 million during the first six months of Karabagh peacekeeping. The current budgetary contours for OSCE render long-term peacekeeping in Nagorno-Karabagh impossible regardless of need.
The second reason concerns the OSCE mandate. The CSCE Helsinki Summit of July 1992 adopted a mandate for all future peacekeeping operations by CSCE. Article 25 of Chapter 3 reads: "Peacekeeping operations cannot be considered a substitute fîr a negotiated settlement and therefore must be understood to be limited in time." The officers of the High Level Planning Group, which has been responsible for planning the Nagorno-Karabagh PKF mission, also specifically state: "it should be emphasized once more that the operation will only last for a set period of time and will be terminated at the earliest possible date."
The third reason is that Azerbaijan will be hostile to the peacekeeping force. After the re-establishment of Azerbaijani control over the six occupied districts, Baku will try to use the PKF against Armenian forces. If that does not work, Azerbaijan will seek to nudge the PKF out at the earliest possible date.
Even if we suppose for a moment that this PKF would stay in the region for ten or even 20 years, it is going to leave at some point. The PKF would eventually abandon the region without leaving behind any stable solution. This is à major systemic reason for the failure of àll attempts to reach a negotiated solution. The Minsk Group tries to solve the Armenian-Azeri/Turkish conflict that carries a long-term prognosis within a very short-term framework. This approach cannot work and is doomed to failure.
Thus, the inevitable transience of the OSCE peacekeeping force mission in the region makes the whole operation senseless from the viewpoint of attaining a stable, lasting peace. At the same time, it provides Azerbaijan with an excellent opportunity to try again to solve the crisis militarily.