By Sara Rajabova
There will be no settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict until the Minsk Group is replaced by a truly neutral moderator and facilitator, a British member of parliament believes.
The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, the Russian Federation, and the United States, was established in 1994 to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in the conflict for over two decades, which emerged over Armenia's territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor.
"Russia has troops in Armenia and supports that country. France is biased in favor of Armenia and so is the U.S. which has given Armenia financial aid," Lord Kilclooney told AzerNews.
He noted that the progress can only be achieved when Armenia and Azerbaijan, freed from the influence of the Minsk countries, agree to meet under the chairmanship of a strictly neutral and impartial chairman. "That should be a priority for all who want a settlement, which would benefit both Armenia and Azerbaijan," he stressed.
Lord Kilclooney , who is the member of the UK-Azerbaijan inter-parliamentary friendship group, added that he is well aware of both countries.
"For over 20 years I have taken an interest in Azerbaijan. I met late President Heydar Aliyev, as well as President Ilham Aliyev," he said. "I have visited both Armenia and Azerbaijan and I have been an election observer for the Council of Europe in both countries. I campaigned in Strasbourg for Azerbaijan to become a member of the Council of Europe and was achieved by a compromise of accepting both Armenia and Azerbaijan into the Council of Europe on the same day."
Lord Kilclooney further said it was hoped that both nations would find membership of the Council of Europe helpful in resolving the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.
However, he said, it failed to happen and the OSCE Minsk Group is one of the main obstacles in the settlement process of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"I was Deputy Leader of my political party which negotiated a settlement with the political representatives of Irish Republican terrorism in Northern Ireland. That agreement was facilitated by a neutral Chairman, Senator George Mitchell of the U.S. But the Minsk Group is not neutral," Lord Kilclooney said.
Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.
A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994, but long-standing efforts by the U.S., Russian and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on its pullout from the neighboring country's territories.