Entry Title: "Cold Peace of Nagorno-Karabakh"
Name: Jakob Schnetz , Germany
Category and Expertise: War/Conflict|Photo Essay and Feature Story, Student
Entry Description: The Cold Peace of Nagorno-Karabakh
Threat is normality in Karabakh, an autonomous region between Armenia and Azerbaijan. During the Soviet era, the territory was managed by Azerbaijan, and the Armenians and Azerbaijani lived next to each other. In 1988, ethnic conflicts escalated into massacres of Armenians and in the following civil war tens of thousands died. Finally, the Armenians won the battles and forced the azerbaijani people to flee the country. Since 1994 there is a cease-fire agreement, that hardly deserve its name.
Nagorno-Karabakh, which has 148.000 inhabitants, wants to be an independent state, but it is not recognized by any other country in the world. There is a lot of fertile land and a democratically elected government. But economically and military the region depends on it´s big brother Armenia. There is only one road leading to the country. The so-called »Lachin-Corridor« connects Karabakh to Armenia like an umbilical cord.
Azerbaijan claims the territory and threats to take it back by force. Therefore, the eastern border of Karabakh is a trench with the lenght of 240 kilometres. Here, young armenian men do their military service which lasts for two years.
Currently, the conflict threatens to escalate again resulting in the destabilisation of the whole caucasus. Daily, thousands of shots are fired. Again and again azerbaijani diversionary groups enter the territory of Karabakh, to attac the bases or place landmines. Meanwhile the life takes its course in a strange routine.
In Karabakh, »peace« is not an easy word. Many jars are drunk on it, by men whose sons stand in the frontline, by families who lost beloved people during the civil war.
Here, »peace« does not mean the absence of conflict or a state of harmony.
Here, »peace« means one week, one month, one year without fear of death. A piece of normality that has to be struggeled for daily.
Peace can be paradoxical. For many people here, peace is the reason to pick up a rifle.