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Crisis Group: Wrong time to change Minsk Group format

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 29 May 2011 13:45
It is not a time to change OSCE Minsk Group format having an EU representative instead of French co-chair, because the co-chairs feel that they are very close to the signature of the basic principles, International Crisis Group analyst Sabine Freizer believes.
Crisis Group: Wrong time to change Minsk Group format

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 28 / Trend, E.Ostapenko /

It is not a time to change OSCE Minsk Group format having an EU representative instead of French co-chair, because the co-chairs feel that they are very close to the signature of the basic principles, International Crisis Group analyst Sabine Freizer believes.

"It is not a time to change OSCE Minsk Group format, because the co-chairs feel that they are very close to the signature of the basic principles," Crisis Group Europe Program Director Freizer told Trend.
If an agreement on "basic principles" is not reached in the coming months, the international community will have to seriously think about efficiency of negotiating format and the chosen strategy, she believes. In this context the EU will have a chance to prove itself.
On Wednesday the EU published a report - revised European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), which is under consideration of the European Parliament and other EU authorities.

The report says that the European Union is ready to enhance EU involvement in solving protracted conflicts. The EU must be ready to step up its involvement in formats where it is not yet represented, such as the OSCE Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the report reads.

Experts suppose that this may imply the EU involvement in the Minsk Group as a co-chair, perhaps, by replacing the French co-chair.

"There has been a discussion within the European Union about weather or not it would useful to have an EU representative instead of French co-chair," Freizer said. "But, of course, for that to happen would require also the approval by Azerbaijan and Armenia, and other two co-chairs" she added.
It seems highly unlikely at this stage there would be any change of the actual co-chair arrangement, Freizer underscored.
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 and the surrounding regions.
The EU has always stood for the Minsk Group's efforts without being directly involved in the conflict resolution.
"The EU has not come out with a kind of plan, strategy on how it could address Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, especially if there is an agreement on basic principles," she said. She believes that the EU should think about it and suggest a concrete plan.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan have been holding the periodic meetings since June 2008 to agree the positions to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Despite this, the basic principles have not been agreed yet.
It is expected that the presidents' next meeting will take place in June.
Freizer also believes that if there isn't an agreement on the basic principles soon, then it is possible that there will be changes.
"Until Kazan meeting it is clear that the Minks Group will stay as it is," she said.

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