Nagorno-Karabakh conflict does not have a military solution: OSCE MG U.S. Co-Chair

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict does not have a military solution, believes Matthew Bryza, U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, News-Armenia reported.

"We have repeatedly said that the conflict does not have a military solution and its resolution should be based on three principles, including non-use of force, the nation's determination and territorial integrity," Bryza said at a news conference on July 8.

He noted that the Azerbaijani president is also talking about a peaceful solution to the conflict, which is a positive factor.

In turn, the French Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Bernard Fassier, noted that the mediators over the years have asked the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents to prepare the people for peace, not war.

The Nagorno-Karabakh should participate in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, said the Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Yuriy Merzlyakov.

"We do not want to hide the co-chairs' position - we believe that such participation should take place and we very much hope that a text for the peace agreement will be devised after coordinating basic principles of the settlement and that representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh will take part in this process in a manner which the parties agree," said the co-chair at a news conference in Yerevan.

At the same time Merzlyakov reminded people that half of this paper will deal with Karabakh population.

The Moscow meeting between Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, which is scheduled for July 17, can open a new stage in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations, said the French Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Bernard Fassier.

"We are in Yerevan to organize the forthcoming meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Moscow on July 17. I would like to emphasize that this meeting will be the sixth in the last 13 months. This is unprecedented in the history of the negotiations and shows that the presidents really have something to talk about," Fassier said at a news conference in Yerevan.

The French diplomat recalled that the co-chairs' current visit to the region is already the eighth or ninth since early 2009.

The next meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, is scheduled to be held in Moscow in mid-July during the informal international horse races for Russian President Prize. The last time Aliyev and Sargsyan met was in St. Petersburg on June 4.

At the same time, the co-chair noted that the frequency of such meetings shows that it is not necessary to separately evaluate each of the presidents' meetings, but to consider their overall dynamics, to "watch them like a film" which began in June a year ago when the two presidents met for the first time in St. Petersburg. The diplomat said that each time the co-chairs are trying to achieve a small breakthrough, or possibly even serious progress.

"Therefore we are now at a very important stage of the negotiations after the Prague summit where together with the presidents we identified several points in the" Madrid proposals" to move forward. These possibilities have been clarified in St. Petersburg in early June, and I hope that after a week in Moscow, we will have specified progress in at least at two of the three disputed points, and even open up a new part of the negotiations," the co-chair said.

Fassier said that during the Yerevan visit, the co-chairs had held very constructive meetings and expressed the hope that the upcoming meeting in Baku tomorrow will also be constructive.

At the same time, Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Yuriy Merzlyakov, advised people not to consider the Moscow meeting planned for July 17 as definite. The co-chairs have proposed to hold a meeting on July 17 which Armenia has approved, he said.

"But we have yet to receive an agreement from Baku, so one should not consider the issue of the meeting as being fully resolved," Merzlyakov said.

The last meeting between Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents, Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan, took place in St. Petersburg on June 4.

The last, fifth meeting on conflict resolution between the two leaders was held in St. Petersburg on June 4. The previous meeting was held in Prague on May 7. The first meeting was held in St. Petersburg in June 2008, the second meeting in Moscow in late November 2008 and the third was held in Zurich on Jan. 28, 2009.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.

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