Experts: OSCE Minsk Group must remain main format of talks on Nagorno-Karabakh, but in changed format

Experts: OSCE Minsk Group must remain main format of talks on Nagorno-Karabakh, but in changed format

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 20 / Trend.Tariverdiyeva /

The main format of the talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh should remain the OSCE Minsk Group, but, perhaps, with a change in the co-chairs structure and presence of other positive confidence-building measures, experts believe.

It is high time to change the OSCE Minsk-Group's co-chair structure, Ruling New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) Deputy Chairman and Executive Secretary Ali Ahmedov told journalist today.

Azerbaijani Presidential Administration socio-political department head Ali Hasanov earlier stated that Azerbaijan is not satisfied with the U.S. position as co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group.

"The United States often takes a unilateral position in favor of Armenia. We urge the United States to adhere to a neutral position," Hasanov said.

While, Iran and Turkey have offered their mediation efforts in the negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Tehran proposes to hold a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said.

Iran voiced an initiative to mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It intends to hold a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers in Tehran, Mottaki told media at a press conference, İSNA agency reported.

Minister said that Azerbaijan has already given its consent. Tehran is awaiting a response from Armenia now.

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.

According to analysts, although any format of mediation will positively affect the negotiation process, the OSCE Minsk Group still must remain the principal, but perhaps in another format of the co-chairs.

"Most important is keeping the substantive talks within the framework of the Minsk Group, because there should only be one main arena for the negotiations," European Analyst on EU Eastern Neighbourhood, South Caucasus, Turkey & Energy Security Issues at European Policy Centre, Amanda Paul, said.

Azerbaijan agrees that negotiations should take place within the Minsk Group, however, according to observers, it is time for change in the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs institute.

Ahmedov said his view is based on the fact that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries have not been able to demonstrate a commitment to settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan's position as a state subjected to occupation is inadequately protected.

"We believe it is time to make changes to the OSCE Minsk Group's co-chair structure. Turkey may be the most necessary and useful candidate to improve and complete this format," Ahmedov added.

As a friendly and fraternal country, Turkey is interested in resolving the conflict in the framework of restoring Azerbaijan's violated rights. "Theretofore, we hail Turkey joining the process," Ahmedov said.

Azerbaijani Political Scientist Rasim Agayev said Iran's initiative is a little too late - now the negotiation process enters a new level.

All will be determined in the next few months, after clarifying the issue of opening the Turkish-Armenian border, Agayev said.

Politics Professor at the Public and International Affairs Department at George Mason University Mark Katz believes what is needed is to find a mediator acceptable to both Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"Serious candidates for this role, I believe, are the United States, Russia, and the European Union," he wrote Trend in an e-mail.

However, Professor of political science on the Caucasus and Turkey at Tehran University, Ahmed Jansiz, believes Armenia is not ready to take any progress in the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement.

"They do want neither Iran's nor any other country's mediation. Several years ago, Iran has been a mediator, but after some negotiations, Armenia took a step back," Jansiz said.

According to him, Yerevan influenced by Europe, which does not want Iran to play any role in the region, and because the Armenian government will continue to oppose Tehran's mediation initiative.

"Knowing that the truth on its side, Azerbaijan is ready to use any opportunity [to resolve conflict], but Armenia is not ready for it," Jansiz said.

All meetings that took place between the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaderships should be viewed positively and Iran has made many such symbolic gestures over the years, Paul wrote Trend in an e-mail.

She said Armenia has nothing to lose by taking part in such a trilateral meeting with Iranians, all such offers should be welcomed and may be seen as a confidence building measure. 

V.Zhavoronkova, D.Khatinoglu contributed to the article.

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