The statements of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, voiced during their recent visit to the region, once again showed their lack of initiative in the negotiations to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The co-chairs traditionally noted the importance of maintaining an atmosphere of trust for intensive negotiations to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
International mediators merely confirmed the obvious fact that after the meeting of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, which took place on the sidelines of the CIS summit in Dushanbe in September, the tensions on the contact line of troops decreased noticeably.
Indeed, after the meeting of the leaders of the two countries, the tensions on the line of contact decreased.
For example, while previously the units of the Armenian armed forces violated the ceasefire 160 or more times during a day, the statistics of recent weeks show that the number of violations does not exceed 30 times per day.
But, given that the leadership of Armenia still shies away from substantive negotiations with Azerbaijan, the observed decline in tension is nothing but another attempt by Yerevan to mislead the world community, to show Armenia “as a supporter of peace”, not war.
To this end, the Armenian prime minister often speaks about Armenia’s “commitment to peace”, saying that the parties should work out mechanisms of trust, and take other security measures.
The populist statements of the Armenian PM are of the same declarative nature as the traditional statements of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the necessity of mutual concessions of the parties. Meanwhile, the immediate task of the co-chairs is to intensify the negotiation process and apply mechanisms of influence on Armenia – the cause of the conflict.
As practice shows, the meetings at various political forums to resolve the Karabakh conflict would be more effective if there was a pressure by international mediators (representing the leading powers) on the occupant country – Armenia. As a result, the illegal practice of Yerevan to keep the territories of Azerbaijan under occupation and maintain the status quo unequivocally violates the norms and principles of international law, and this fact should primarily concern the co-chairs, who, according to the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group, have pledged to fulfill their mediation mission in accordance with the international law.
It is just the OSCE MG which, as the only and important mediation forum, is obliged to force Armenia to comply with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the Helsinki Final Act. The co-chairs should intensify the negotiations in this vein in order to achieve positive results in resolving the conflict. Azerbaijan, in turn, is making efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully, and this fact also does not remain beyond the attention of world powers, and in particular the United States.
This is noted by senior officials in the US presidential administration and the State Department. For example, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, during his visit to Baku, said there was progress towards resolving the conflict after the New York meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the Dushanbe meeting of the leaders of the two countries.
The fact that the Dushanbe conversation is of great importance for the intensification of the negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was also stated by the former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, former co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza. He noted that this event is a key factor ensuring a certain degree of mutual trust, which gives prerequisites for a breakthrough in negotiations.
Azerbaijan, as a party affected by the conflict imposed by Armenia, along with statements by the leading powers supporting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, expects practical steps from the OSCE Minsk Group to intensify the negotiations, and in particular, force Armenia to de-occupy the occupied territories.
But the international mediators are passive and, apparently, still untenable, which was confirmed once again by their last visit to the region.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.