Azerbaijan, Baku, May 27 /Trend, V.Zhavoronkova/
Over the next six months, it is likely to see an intensification of the negotiations on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, said Dennis Sammut, executive director of the British NGO LINKS.
"Over the next six months, we will likely see an intensification of the negotiations [on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement]," Sammut told Trend from London.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, U.S President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to demonstrate the political will and to finalize the work over the basic principles of [the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict] during the upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in June.
"The further delay will only put the commitment of the parties to reach the agreements under a question," a joint statement of the three presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries said.
The expert said intensification of the negotiations on the conflict settlement can be expected, since the choices are now clearer than ever and that now is decision time.
"These negotiations have been going on for many years. Many people in the region have losing trust in the ability of the participants to reach an agreement that could form the basis of a settlement," said Sammut.
According to the analyst, now it needs to listen to the call of presidents, however, it is necessary to remember that if and when there is agreement on the basic principles this will only be the beginning of another phase in the negotiations, namely the preparation of an actual peace agreement.
Every step will have its own difficulties, but if there is enough resolve on the part of the sides [Armenia and Azerbaijan], then success is possible.
In early week, the EU declared readiness to step up its involvement in the conflict settlement. The revised ENP report says that 'the EU would be ready to step up its involvement in formats where it is not yet represented, e.g. the OSCE Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict'.
According to Sammut, the document published by the European Commission this week outlines leaves observers in no doubt that the European Union will in the future play a much more active role in all issues related to these regions. There are many ways in which this can happen, expert believes.
"The negotiations for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are at an important and delicate phase," he said.
Sammut said changing the co-chair at this point is not ideal, if however there is a breakthrough in the negotiations the mechanism of the Minsk Process will need to be strengthened to take into account the many tasks that will lay ahead.
On the other hand if there is no breakthrough this year, than it will also be necessary to strengthen the Minsk Group mechanism, he said.
"In both scenarios the EU is going to be vital for the future of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and I am very pleased that this has now been recognized in this new ENP document," the expert said.
He said there are different things the EU can be doing at different stages, using both its huge resources, as well as its very extensive experience: confidence building measures; good governance, peace keeping, policing and post conflict economic rehabilitation.
"The EU could be involved, directly and through its 27 member states," said the analyst.
"I am sure that the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize this and I hope that they would publicly welcome the EU readiness to engage more actively with the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process," said Sammut.
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.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.