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New data on attitudes to Nagorno Karabakh conflict resolution (and Armenia-Turkey relations)

26 April 2012 12 Comments

16.7 kilometers south of Lachin © Onnik Krikorian

By Onnik Krikorian

On 1 March 2012 the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) and Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) held a one-day conference on Turkey’s South Caucasus Agenda: Roles of State and Non-State Actors. Examining the country’s potential role in the region, new data from the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) was included in a presentation by Dr. Hans Gutbrod, its regional director.

In particular, CRRC’s 2011 Caucasus Barometer included questions formulated by Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, which identify current views on resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh. It should be noted, however, that Dr. Gutbrod says CRRC’s Armenian database is still undergoing final cleaning so final numbers may deviate by up to three percent.

The results, of course, will come as little surprise to many following attempts to resolve the conflict since the 1994 ceasefire. The data, however, does provide a clearer picture of the obstacles that need to be overcome.

With the International Crisis Group (ICG) warning of the dangers of an accidental war, coupled with massive military spending and rhetoric from Azerbaijan, the perception of a new conflict from respondents is perhaps most interesting.

Unfortunately, however, opinion on how the conflict can be resolved show the two sides as far away from the idea of mutual compromise as ever.

How the Karabakh conflict is viewed internally also varies, with only three percent of Armenians considering it most pressing. In Azerbaijan that figure is 33 percent.

The potential for external bodies and countries to play a role in mediating the conflict was also examined.

Although speakers and participants at the conference considered that attempts to resolve the Karabakh conflict and normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey were two separate initiatives, some also believed that the two issues were linked.

Data from the 2010 Caucasus Barometer, however, indicates that there is still much to do in that regard. The results are from the survey conducted in Armenia. For now, no such data from CRRC exists on attitudes in Turkey.

Again, it should be noted that the data on Nagorno Karabakh from the 2011 Caucasus Barometer is not finalized and could change by as much as three percent even if the trends indicated might remain the same. A report on the conference, detailing opinions on Turkey’s South Caucasus Agenda as well as possibilities to resolve the three frozen conflicts of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno Karabakh will later be available from EPF and TESEV.

Onnik Krikorian was contracted by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) and Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) to work with conference organizer Aybars Gurgulu on the report, containing policy recommendations, which will be released in the near future.

The above slides are courtesy of Dr. Hans Gutbrod, Caucasus Research Resource Centers.

Onnik Krikorian


  • Armenia-Azerbaijan: Attitudes to Nagorno Karabakh resolution · Global Voices said:

    […] Voices posts early data from a 2011 household survey by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers revealing attitudes to the long-running conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed te…. Tweet Caucasus Conflict Voices posts early data from a 2011 household survey by the […]

  • Danny said:

    The results of the polls (BTW, would be great to know how many participants were polled on both sides, the geography, were there Armenians from NKR polled etc.) among other things show how successful the Aliev regime is in using the conflict as a fig leaf to cover the acute problems of corruption and lack of democracy (see freedom House and Transparency International) in modern Azerbaijan.

  • admin said:

    Danny, the number of respondents for CRRC survey are typically 1,500-2,000 nationwide. Also, no, the surveys are not conducted in Karabakh. Only Armenia and Azerbaijan (and actually Georgia too).

    • Danny said:

      …like, who cares what actual Karabakh residents think, right?

      This type of polls play into Azerbaijan’s propaganda thesis that the whole conflict is about ‘territorial claims’, which i am sure you know is a pure BS. I don’t really care whether Armenian’s territory is 30 sq km or 40 sq km, what I care is that the free will of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian majority is honored, as well as their security guaranteed. It’s all about their will (just like it was about the will of Bosnian Muslims or Kosovars in the conflict with central government in Belgrade). What an average guy from, say, Gyanja thinks about it is as relevant as what an average guy from Gyumri does. That is – largely irrelevant.

  • admin said:

    Danny, I don’t think it has anything to do with that. Instead I think it has to do more with where organizations can conduct their activities. Interestingly, for example, even many peace building activities don’t include participants from Nagorno Karabakh, not because they don’t want to, but because it’s politically sensitive. That situation, of course will change eventually, and just as you mention the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh, there will also be mention of the need to involve the Azerbaijanis from Karabakh too.

    For now, though, as it is Armenia and Azerbaijan directly involved in peace talks, not that there seems to be much progress, what matters most at present is the attitude in both countries, especially as it is kind of related to whether the two presidents have the political will to sign up for a settlement and also whether they are preparing their populations for peace or not. When that’s clear, I suspect that yes, Karabakh has to be involved, and that will likely include the defacto leadership as well as both communities.

    • Danny said:


      Azeri community of Karabakh should have a voice, I agree -just like Serbian community of Kosovo and Bosnia had. That however doesn’t mean Bosnia or Kosovo are not independent today, and that should not mean Armenian ethnic majority of Karabakh doesn’t have the right for independence – no matter what is the wish of the minority (“cultivated” during Aliyev’s years).

      The conflict’s essence, again, is not a “piece of land” both Armenia and Azerbaijan are “laying claims to” but the Armenian majority of Karabakh having a legitimate desire to get out of the oppressive (during the Soviet period) and downright murderous (post-Soviet) central government in Baku. Armenia proper at the end of the day serves just as a guarantor of security and self-determination of Karabakh. I am sure if all the questions to Armenians in Armenia were brought down to a single one “Would you accept any plan of settlement also acceptable to Karabakh Armenian majority population?” the overwhelming response would be positive.

      From that perspective, the poll taking place exclusively in Armenia and Azerbaijan is misleading at best.

      • Nevart said:

        Well said… pointless survey which serves to the interests of one of the parties – implicitly suggesting that it’s a dispute between Arm and Az… in reality it’s about Karabakh Armenians struggle for independence and survival. Onnik, at least you should understand this.

      • Jafar said:

        Then what about more than 200 thousands refuges from Armenia who compactly lived together? should they also claim for independence?

  • New data on attitudes to Nagorno Karabakh conflict resolution and Armenia - Turkey relations | Dimpool - Web Based Policy Center said:

    […] article was first published at blog section of the cross-border online media project Conflict Voices — http://peace.oneworld.am and republished under Onnik Krikorian’s permission. 16.7 […]

  • News and Views (May 8, 2012) said:

    […] — New data on the Armenian/Azerbaijani conflict has emerged and suggests things have changed somewhat. 23% of Armenian citizens believe the conflict will never be resolved, while 24% of Azeribajiani citizens believe it will be resolved in 2–5 years. Also, Azerbaijanis are much more likely (33%) to see the territorial issues of Karabakh as the biggest issue facing their country, while the issue is a far smaller concern for Armenia’s citizens (3%). […]

  • Refugees in Armenia | Onnik James Krikorian said:

    […] also have some interesting data collected from household surveys in both Armenia and Azerbaijan on settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. gapi.plusone.go(); Tweet Pin […]

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