Experts: If statement by U.S., Russian and French presidents followed by practical implementation, Nagorno-Karabakh process to move from stalemate

Experts: If statement by U.S., Russian and French presidents followed by practical implementation, Nagorno-Karabakh process to move from stalemate

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 30 / Trend, E. Tariverdiyeva /

A joint statement by the Presidents of the USA, Russia and France on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement will be effective in the case, when it will be followed by practical implementation. However, the statement reflecting Baku's position indicates the importance of Azerbaijan's role for world leaders, experts say.

"Implementation of such initiatives, like the Presidents' statement, can only be with efforts of the world powers. Armenia should understand that it is a serious statement, which can be followed by some steps, even sanctions," Trend expert council member Fikret Sadikhov believes.

The presidents of Russia, the United States and France during G8 summit in Canada issued a joint statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which called on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to accelerate work on the Main principles of settlement of the conflict in order to begin drafting a Peace agreement.

The statement noted that the heads of states - co-chairs of the Minsk Group have been considered as an important step towards the recognition by both parties of the fact that the settlement must be based on several principles, among which, returning of the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees of security and self-government; corridor linking Armenia with Nagorno- Karabakh.

The final legal determination of future status of Nagorno Karabakh "by a legally binding will of people, the right of all refugees and internal displaced persons to return to their former homes, international guarantees of security, including peacekeeping operations" is among these principles.
According to observers, the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs' presidents reflects Azerbaijan's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a greater extent than the position of Armenia, while the Armenian side also expressed its satisfaction.

Yerevan highly appreciates the statement of the Presidents of Russia, the U.S. and France on Nagorno-Karabakh, adopted within Group of Eight (G8) summit in Canada, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian June 28, RIA Novosti reported.

Armenian political analyst Yervand Bozoyan believes that the Armenian Foreign Ministry's answer was quite quickly. "It was wrong to give a positive response by the Foreign Ministry. In this regard, Azerbaijan has acted more seriously. It would be better if we acted a little more seriously," Bozoyan said, reports.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov highly assessed and recognized very important the recent statement by the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair-countries in Toronto.

"Occupation is occupation, and all recognize this. My optimism about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement will intensify if we know what the Armenians want. If they want annexation of Karabakh, it is impossible. If they continue to insist on the independence of this region, this is also impossible," said Mammadyarov on June 29 at a meeting with members of the Bundestag during his working visit to Germany.

According to observers, the statement of the presidents reflects the interest of the world leaders in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

This statement is to be very much welcomed as a sign of interest and commitment to the peace process, at the highest level, European expert on the Caucasus Licinia Simao believes.

The timing of the statement is also important considering the mounting tension and episodes of violence along the contact line, during the last weeks, Simao said.

"However, it is far from clear whether the three presidents are in fact committed to continue accompanying this process, or whether this was a mere exercise of public diplomacy," Simao noted.

Simao said a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is much welcomed for the three countries, especially at a time when they are coping with unsuccessful mediation processes and ongoing conflicts, in Georgia and in Kyrgyzstan.

The Nagorno-Karabakh peace process is always stuck, as the two presidents can always agree on 90 percent of the document in front of them, said Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate for the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

The statement by the French, Russian and US president was designed to remind that the basic outline of an agreement is in place.
"I believe new resources--both international and within Armenian and Azerbaijani societies--are needed supporting peace and compromise if the climate of mistrust is to change so that progress can be made," De Waal said.

Simao believes this statement is also likely to make Armenians very disappointed with the Co-Chairs, since it refers to the territories under Armenian control outside Karabakh as "occupied territories". Armenian lobbies have sought to avoid this expression.

Moreover, the deadlock reached in the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement process, has also left the ruling coalition in Armenia in a very delicate position, meaning that further concessions on major foreign policy issues might be very hard to sell in Armenia.

Azerbaijani political scientist Fikret Sadikhov said the fact that the President's statement on Nagorno-Karabakh is very much a positive for Azerbaijan, and is associated with the success of Azerbaijan's diplomacy, the new military doctrine, the flexibility of Azerbaijan's position and even with military rhetoric that we hear sometimes from Baku.

"Azerbaijan is becoming a key player in the region, as reflected in the position of world leaders," he said.

Simao believes namely Azerbaijan's position in the region has led to that world powers have made such a positive statement.

She said the United States tries to improve its relations with Azerbaijan, recognizing that Baku is an important partner in the important region. It is important for Washington to make sure that Azerbaijan will be ready to support the U.S. in war in Afghanistan, Simao said.

Moreover, with the level of rhetoric increasing towards the Iranian nuclear program, Azerbaijan's location becomes all the more relevant. Therefore, the world leaders relations with Azerbaijan is an important step in the direction of the Nagorno-Karabakh process to the right direction.

There is the danger however, that the perspective in Washington is rather the contrary: that getting the peace process back on track might help mend relations with Azerbaijan, Simao believes.

"This would mean that positive steps in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict are not a goal in itself but a stepping stone towards improving relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan," she said.

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