Minsk Group 2021: Communication is on the Agenda


https://www.turan.az-The first post-war visit of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to the region of the Karabakh conflict, discussed the peacekeeping plans for the next year were and its verbal sketches. It gives grounds to conclude that the main direction of interaction between mediators and parties to the conflict in 2021 will be the opening of transport communications, establishment of confidence-building measures, and activation of human contacts.

Its contours were outlined at the meeting of the co-chairs with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, though this idea was not specified in the final statement of the co-chairs on the results of the December 12-14 visit to Baku and Yerevan.

“The Madrid principles speak of opening lines and communications, restoring relations between all peoples in the region. If this is part of your position, then I think that we and our countries can play our part in achieving this,” said American Co-Chair Andrew Shaffer.

We do not know what proposals Aliyev presented to the co-chairs. But the French co-chair Stefan Visconti confirmed that there were some proposals, “I appreciate your interesting suggestions. We will work on this to find an option that meets the will of the parties.”

The issue of unblocking communications, which, in the opinion of the mediators, should restore the blood vessels of the region in full and thereby bring the positions of the parties closer not only on the issue of the future fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, but the entire spectrum of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mikhail Bocharnikov said that Russia is a party to the trilateral agreement and attaches particular importance to the implementation of the provisions of the trilateral Statement. “I think that we should work additionally to fully implement this document. As you said, Mr. President, this concerns the return of people, the peaceful restoration of the region,” he said.

The trilateral Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani Statement of November 10, which ended the 44-day war, also refers to the Madrid principles in terms of opening communications, establishing trust and returning displaced persons to their homes.

Clause 7 of the Madrid principles of settlement, signed on November 29, 2007, states: Open and unhindered transport and communication links between the parties will be encouraged throughout the region, including direct and unhindered land access of Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan, opening of all borders and resumption of communications.

In principle, the logic of the sequence of the execution of this document and its structure are seriously deformed as a result of the forceful liberation by Azerbaijan of not only five occupied regions, which were supposed to be liberated at the first stage, but all seven occupied regions and part of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, abolished by Azerbaijan in 1991 …

During the meeting with Aliyev, the co-chairs publicly acknowledged the established new realities that are changing the philosophy of the previous 28-year settlement process.

“An absolutely new situation has formed in the region, which can bring stability and prosperity. How the Minsk Group will continue to work on the remaining issues depends on you. Yes, a favorable environment has been created for this. We are in a transitional stage and plans for the future can be drawn up. I will bring your proposals to the attention of the French government, “he said.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statements on the need to grant independence to Nagorno-Karabakh, which he voiced at a meeting with the co-chairs, caused skepticism in the new realities, when the Armenian approach “status in exchange for territories” as a principled position was blurred due to the lack of such territories.

As a result of the meetings in Baku and Yerevan, the verdict of the co-chairs was as follows: “In both capitals, the sides presented their assessment of the situation on the ground and expressed their expectations regarding interaction with the co-chairs in the coming year. Taking into account the new realities, the Co-Chairs reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to engage constructively with the parties to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region and to resolve outstanding issues. The co-chairs also pledged to submit specific proposals on the issues raised during the meetings for further discussion between the parties.”

The next year’s agenda should not expect a change in the format of the peacekeeping forces. According to the Madrid principles, the introduction of such forces was envisaged after the conclusion of a final agreement. However, the peacekeepers were there before the agreement was reached, which makes the fact come true. To implement communication issues, the presence of the Russian contingent is tolerable for the American and French co-operation at this stage. Another thing is that they can be given a mandate from the OSCE forces in order to eliminate the one-sidedness of the peacekeeping presence. This imbalance is still being eliminated by the newly created Russian-Turkish Monitoring Center, because Turkey is a member of the Minsk Group. From  the very beginning of the military conflict Turkey is in close cooperation with Russia, which today satisfies President Aliyev, who has changed the agenda of 28-year-old negotiations: “This is a very good an example of regional and Russian-Turkish cooperation and this is also a reality.”


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