Replacement of two co-chairmen of OSCE Minsk Group to slightly affect negotiating process on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 12 August 2009 17:20 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, August 12 / Trend E. Tariverdiyeva /

Replacement of two co-chairmen of OSCE Minsk Group mediating the process of peaceful settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, can indirectly but slightly affect the negotiation process, experts said.

"It is difficult to solve the Nagorno Karabakh problem by the only acceptable peaceful way because time for new co-chairs to get familiarize with the situation and go into action would slightly affect the peace agreement. It will unlikely to be noticed in the negotiation process," Russian expert on the CIS countries, Vladimir Zharihin, said.  

Russian and U.S co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will be changed in 2009, Russian co-chairman Yuri Merzlyakov told Trend .

"U.S co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza, will pay his last visit to the region as U.S co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group," Merzlyakov said over phone from Moscow.

He said that, he will also leave the post of co-chair this year.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan lost all of Nagorno-Karabakh except for Shusha and Khojali in December 1991. In 1992-93, Armenian armed forces occupied Shusha, Khojali and 7 districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.

Observers said that replacement of two co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will not greatly affect the negotiating process of parties. But it will take some time for new diplomats to get familiarize with the case.

A new process of strengthening trust between mediators and political leaders will be launched after replacement of two co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. It will postpone achievement of a solid peace process and further actions that might follow it , expert on the South Caucasus, member of University of Coimbra, Simao told Trend via e-mail.

Armenian political scientist Richard Giragosian said that a direct impact of changes on the negotiation process within the OSCE Minsk Group is limited, because the process and format of the mission has never formed, depending on the managerial abilities of concrete individuals.

But it is important that both Bryza, has been working in the OSCE Minsk Group as U.S co-chairman since 2006, and Russian Ambassador Yuri Merzlyakov, served as a Russian co-chairman for seven years, leave posts of co-chairs, he said.

Giragosian said that it will likely to impact indirectly on present stage of relations.

"It will take some time for new U.S. and Russian representatives to get familiarize with the presidents and the negotiating process closely given presence of two new co-chairs of only three diplomats, Director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, Giragosian, told Trend via e-mail.

Many observers think that replacement of diplomats in mediation format can push process of peace settlement.

Azerbaijani political scientist Tofig Abbasov said that there is no cause for anxiety concerning changes in staff of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.He said that replacement among three co-chairs will not cause great slump, as there is no way to leave. But there is start to move forward.

New diplomats will have to more seriously treat understanding and implementation of the ideas of democracy, stabilization and development in terms of unsolved Karabakh conflict, situation when hundreds of thousands of displaced people are still waiting to return to their native lands, when the blocked communication restrict opportunities of regional nations, Abbasov said.

"Taking in account experience of M. Bryza, V. Merzlyakov, and others who operated as the co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group, would be instructive for the new nominees, because realities they face is obvious fact one should take into consideration and act ", expert of analyst Leader-TV group, Abbasov, told Trend .

Giragosian said that replacement of the co-chairs is another action that will inevitably give a fresh spirit of the new political foundation for the peace process, which has never been rather dynamic and one of priority tasks.

Analysts said that the sides of the conflict have more responsibility for settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict than countries-mediators.

Abbasov said that temporary closing-down of the conflict is not a solution, but a self-deception fraught with failure of those who volunteered to contribute to solve prolonged problem.

"Leaders of all sides of the Karabakh conflict, as always, will face real test. Speaking more precisely, burden and responsibility will be put on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan", Giragosian said.

Zharihin said that there is no problem with replacement of the co-chairs. The problem concerns Nagorno-Karabakh and willingness of each party to pass its way towards a compromise necessary for a peaceful solving of the problem.

"Moreover, there are minimal contradictions between countries-co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and ways of this problem solving as opposed to many other similar conflicts," deputy director of Institute of CIS countries, Zharihin, to Trend by phone from Moscow.

Both the USA and Russia are interested in solving this problem. They have almost the same ways of its solving, Zharihin said.

E. Ostapenko contributed in the article.

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