Thomas de Waal, a specialist in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a senior analyst at the Carnegie Foundation, has been to Karabakh many times, he has friends who lost their homes there, but he believes it is a tragedy that has its roots from many years. de Waal stated this in an interview with the RFE/RL Armenian Service.
His hope has always been that there will be a peaceful return of Azerbaijanis to their regions, as there have obviously been ghost towns on the Azerbaijani side for many years. de Wall said he also saw Aghdam, from where the population was also driven out. So his hope was that people would either go back to their homes or stay in their homes. And he considers it tragic that Karabakh, with its age-old Armenian presence and history, is now de-Armenianized, and this makes him very sad, said de Waal.
Also, he believes that this, unfortunately, is the price of many wrong actions of not only Azerbaijani but Armenian politicians over many years, the price of maximalism that we have seen. Unfortunately, maximalism won, and peaceful compromise could not win, he added.
And when asked if he could elaborate a little on that maximalism, Thomas de Waal specified that moment was in 2019. He said we saw Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev in military uniform, those terrible scenes of celebration at the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) capital Stepanakert square. But at the same square in 2019, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan also gave a speech saying that "Artsakh is Armenia and that's it!" de Waal believes that was the moment when Azerbaijan also gave up diplomacy and compromises and started moving towards war.
The task of Armenian politicians was to give hope to Azerbaijanis that they would return their territories. And that hope, Thomas de Waal believes, ended with the "Artsakh is Armenia" talk. So, during these years, Pashinyan and other Armenian political figures definitely made mistakes that led to the war in 2020, and the war had a tragic end for Armenians. de Waal added that he always says that for people like him, who wanted to see a peace treaty, it is a very sad sight indeed.