Review of Armenian and Azerbaijani media and official commentary shows an increase in nationalist rhetoric in both countries since the brief but deadly war fought in April 2016, according to analyses published in the Caucasus Edition. The review was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office through the “Joint Platform for Realistic Peace in the South Caucasus,” a joint program of the Imagine Center for Conflict Transformation and the Center for Independent Social Research – Berlin.
The Armenian chapter authored by Mikail Zolyan, considers the stand-off between a group of Karabakh war veterans with police in July 2016, the so-called Azerbaijani apple scandal in Armenia in April 2017 and the poor performance of the Karabakh compromise-minded ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan in May 2017 elections, as reflections of nationalist hardening in Armenia. Most recently, the Armenian foreign minister’s comments about territorial compromises that have been discussed in negotiations since the 1990s produced a widespread backlash.
Fact that the identity of the author of the Azerbaijan chapter was kept under a pen name reflected the restrictions on speech in that country, as well as the particular sensitivity of the Karabakh topic. The Azerbaijani author noted that the regime in that country has framed the April War as a victory over Armenians, while Azerbaijani losses were intentionally played down. “A new myth that is built on triumph rather than mourning [over losses in the 1990s] has taken a stronghold in the official discourse.” At the same time, the focus on the “Nagorno-Karabakh problem has shifted public attention away from poverty and corruption to the need for unity between the authorities and society.”