Un article traduit de l’anglais par une collègue traductrice pour un de mes clients et publié dans « Le Point » le 8 juin 2015 :
Ancien professeur à l’université de Georgetown, Rob Sobhani estime que François Hollande peut concrétiser la paix entre l’Arménie et l’Azerbaïdjan…
Et voici le texte de cet article en anglais
Hollande’s Karabagh Moment
Armenians around the world recently commemorated the 100th anniversary of the mass murder of their ancestors in the Ottoman Empire. President Francois Hollande visited Armenia to pay his respects and lent his moral support to those impassioned calls on governments that have not recognized the murder of Armenians as genocide.
While it is important for France to observe with solemnity the tragic events of 1915, this anniversary offers a rare yet historic moment for President Hollande to take the lead in solving one of the most intractable conflicts of the former Soviet Union; namely, the “frozen conflict” between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabagh. In 1991, full-scale war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan and despite a cease-fire in 1994, border skirmishes and fighting has continued. Over one million people have been displaced as a result of the conflict and today close to 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory is occupied by Armenian forces.
France, along with Russia and the United States, is the co-Chair of the Minsk Group tasked with resolving this conflict. Until now, Moscow has treated Armenia as its own aircraft carrier in the Caucasus. In addition, Russia has provided military support to Armenia thus prolonging the conflict. And sadly, Washington has been too busy with distractions in the Middle East to take a lead role in establishing a lasting peace between Yerevan and Baku. And yet, both Armenia and Azerbaijan deserve a permanent peace. President Hollande can deliver this dream of a new beginning to the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan by leading a robust diplomatic initiative resulting in a permanent solution that is fair to both sides.
As one of the few countries that has recognized the murder of Armenians as genocide, France is very well positioned to become an honest broker urging Armenia to vie for a permanent peace with its long-time neighbor Azerbaijan. The message from President Hollande to the Armenian people is simple: the best way to remember the memory of those 1.5 million killed by the Ottoman Empire is to build a vibrant, dynamic and inclusive Armenia at peace with its neighbors. As professor Arman Grigoryan noted recently in the Washington Post, resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict is of vital interest for landlocked, poor and vulnerable Armenia.
Indeed, despite millions of dollars that continues to flow into Armenia from its diaspora, since gaining independence, Armenia’s GDP per capita has remained stagnant. Today it stands at $3500 and its GDP is $10 billion with remittances making up a large percentage of the GDP. In comparison, Azerbaijan’s economy is growing at an average annual rate of 20%. GDP per capita is three that of Armenia and its GDP is $76 billion – seven times that of Armenia. And while it is true that Azerbaijan’s phenomenal growth has been largely fueled by energy exports, the fact remains that this economic growth has allowed millions of Azeris to enter the middle class. According to the UNDP, poverty rates have dropped from 47 percent to 8 percent.
Despite this asymmetric economic reality, both Armenia and Azerbaijan would benefit from a peace dividend. A French led diplomatic resolution of the conflict would unleash the engine for growth in a post-conflict environment. Trade and commerce between Armenia and Azerbaijan – two cultures with a deep entrepreneurial spirit written into their DNA – would have an immediate impact on the lives of millions.
George Clemenceau once said: “It is far easier to make war than to make peace.” President Hollande can prove this truism wrong by presenting the following outline of a peace agreement. First, the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from territories occupied within Azerbaijan. Second and in exchange for this withdrawal, Azerbaijan agrees to build an extension to its gas export pipeline to Europe through Armenia. Theses gas deliveries can be coordinated by French companies like Total or GdF. Third, getting both sides to agree to the highest level of autonomy for the region of Nagorno-Karabagh: short of independence, Armenians within N-K would enjoy full autonomy from Baku. French troops would be deployed to N-K as peace-keepers, the cost of which would be paid by cash-rich Azerbaijan. Fourth, the creation of a Paris-based Armenia-Azerbaijan Reconciliation and Reconstruction Fund that would invest in infrastructure projects between the two countries such a bullet train from Baku via Armenia to Nakhijevan. And fifth, the establishment of a Cross-Culture Fund headed by the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva and the First Lady of Armenia, Rita Sargsyan, with the explicit goal of re-building the religious tolerance that existed between Armenians and Azerbaijanis before 1991. And finally, the creation of a Franco-Russian partnership to jointly build a safe and reliable nuclear plant in Armenia that would replace the old Soviet-era Metsamor nuclear plant. The European Union has expressed serious concerns over the safety of Metsamor.
President Ilham Aliyev is riding a wave of popular support domestically and can deliver on a peace that is fair to both sides. The key is Armenia and President Hollande’s ability to persuade President Sargsyan that France will never turn its back on Yerevan. By presenting a clear, concise and fully funded post conflict economic reconstruction package, President Hollande can show a road-map to his Armenian counterpart that peace with Azerbaijan is in Armenia’s best interest.
Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel once said that “peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.” By being a leader of consequence, President Hollande can give the gift of peace to Armenia and Azerbaijan.