‎Minsk Group Calls NKR Status Quo ‘Unsustainable’

BELGRADE, Serbia (A.W.)—The heads of delegation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group countries expressed concern about the ongoing of escalation in violence along the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border, calling the status quo “unsustainable,” in a statement released on Dec. 3.

(Photo: OSCE)
(Photo: OSCE)

The heads of the delegation—Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and France’s State Secretary for European Affairs Harlem Desir—said that they remain united in their commitment to mediating a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, and welcomed the upcoming meeting between Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian. The meeting will take place this month under the auspices of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. “There must also be dialogue between Armenians and Azerbaijanis to build trust between neighboring peoples. We encourage the sides to work with the Co-Chairs to support programs that bring together people affected by the conflict,” read a part of the statement.

The delegation also appealed to the sides to continue discussions from the Sochi, Wales, and Paris Summits of 2014 on elements of a comprehensive settlement, and to intensify their dialogue in 2016 “on the basis of proposals currently under discussion.”

The heads of delegation especially condemned the use of mortars and other heavy weaponry, and expressed “deep regret” about civilian casualties the weapons have caused. “The Co-Chairs have proposed risk-reduction measures that we encourage the sides to adopt, including an OSCE investigation mechanism. There is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and there is no justification for the death and injury of innocent civilians,” read a part of the statement.

The statement also criticized vocal attacks on the Co-Chairs and the Minsk Group format, and emphasized that the Minsk Group remains the only accepted format by the sides and that it has the full confidence of all OSCE participating States. “Any attempts to blame the Co-Chairs for setbacks in the negotiation process only mask the primary obstacle to peace—the lack of political will in Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a negotiated settlement,” read a part of the statement.

In their joint statement, they welcomed the progress made by the sides in implementing the data exchange on missing persons under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and praised Azerbaijani authorities’ decision to return an Armenian soldier who crossed the Line of Contact and an Armenian civilian who crossed the international border as “a helpful humanitarian gesture and consistent with international humanitarian obligations.” They also urged the sides to return all remaining prisoners in the spirit of the Astrakhan Declaration of October 2010 issued by the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Igor Popov, James Warlick and Pierre Andrieu, and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk, on Dec. 3, reported the Armenian Foreign Ministry.

The Minsk Group Co-Chairs together with Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, held a meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Sept. 24 and a separate meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on Sept. 25. According to a statement released by the Minsk Group, the delegation met jointly with Nalbandian and Mammadyarov to “discuss the immediate need to reduce tensions along the Line of Contact and international border, to advance negotiations on a lasting settlement, and to implement confidence-building measures.”

During the meeting, the Co-Chairs called on both the Presidents of Armenia and of Azerbaijan to accept an OSCE mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations.  “Without such a mechanism, the sides will continue to blame each other for initiating deadly attacks on the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border.  Armenia has agreed to discuss the details of the mechanism, and we urged Azerbaijan to do the same,” read a part of the statement released on Sept. 26.

In September, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) parliamentary faction secretary Aghvan Vardanyan noted that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairing countries had the power to reduce tension on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and to prevent the killing of innocent civilians, if they so willed and proceeded to work together accordingly.

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs have continuously faced criticism for manufacturing “artificial even-handedness.” In August 2014, following attacks by Azerbaijan, Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian pointedly remarked: “The OSCE Minsk Group’s unwillingness to clearly condemn Azerbaijani military strikes has fostered a dangerous atmosphere of impunity… It is time for peace negotiators to break their bad habit of answering Aliyev’s every assault with artificial even-handedness and diplomatic double-talk. Only by unequivocally denouncing Azerbaijan’s attacks can they hope to constrain Aliyev’s march toward a renewed Caucasus war.”

Similarly, in October, Kaspar Karampetian, the president of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD), sent a letter to the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, in which he urged them to steer clear of making “generic announcements” and wrongly placing equal blame on the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides following ceasefire violations.

1 Comment

  1. What is “unsustainable” is the Minsk Group’s failure to recognize the right of Artsakh to determine its own destiny.

    Let’s recall that the Russians gave Artsakh to the Azeris.

    Let’s also recall that the Russians arm Azerbaijan to the teeth, and have been so dumb as to consider Turkey to be a “strategic ally”.

    How clueless is Putin? (Answer: Very, and he should have shot down a Turkish jet in retaliation, but he does not have the guts).

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