Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Legacy of Soviet Nationalities Policy

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Legacy of Soviet Nationalities Policy

Article excerpt

Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Legacy of Soviet Nationalities Policy. By Ohannes Geukjian. Surrey, Eng.: Ashgate, 2012. 247 pp. £60.

Geukjianhas written a well-thought-out book about the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Employing a combination of historical overview and in-depth qualitative interviews to lend credence to his arguments, the author gives the reader a balanced historical analysis that provides a basis for understanding the root causes of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Geukjian, a professor at the American University of Beirut, proposes that the Bolsheviks' inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh in the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan in 1920 ultimately placed Azerbaijani and Armenian nationalists on a collision course. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, predominantly Armenian NagornoKarabakh became a potent symbol of ethno-national identity both for Azerbaijanis and Armenians. While Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of perestroïka and glasnost failed to salvage the Soviet Union, they had the unintended effect of reviving the suppressed national identities of the country's diverse peoples.

Geukjian cogently argues that while the 1994 Bishkek protocol ended the military aspect of the conflict and laid the basis for an eventual political agreement, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will not be resolved unless the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe accommodates Russia's guidelines for reaching a lasting settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia. …

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