U.S. OSCE MG co-chair: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict sides are at critical stage of negotiation process
Azerbaijan, Baku, June 24/ Trend, E. Tariverdiyeva /
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict parties are at the critical stage of the negotiation process, U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Robert Bradtke said during a press briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Thursday, the Radio Liberty Armenian office reported.
"I think it is the most important stage in the negotiation process since 2001, when efforts were made in Key West to reach a peace agreement," Bradtke said, commenting on the Kazan meeting of the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian presidents.
He mentioned the Deauville statement made by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, in which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, U.S President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed their willingness to take decisive steps for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and urged the conflict sides to achieve an agreement on the basic principles of the settlement during the meeting in Kazan.
"I should say that the basic principles are not a peace agreement. This is a framework document of 5.5 pages consisting of 14 items, which is a guiding mechanism for the conflict parties," he stressed.
He said the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs have worked on this document over the years, trying to bring closer the parties' positions by formulations acceptable for them.
"Now we have reached [this] stage, and I would like again to refer to the Deauville statement, in which the three countries' presidents stressed they believe that the document lying on the negation table is fair and balanced. It allows the parties to move forward and negotiate around a final peace agreement. Therefore, I repeat, we are at a critical stage," Bradtke said.
He underscored that although the Kazan meeting is held under the patronage of the Russian president, the United States is also actively involved in the negotiation process.
Bradtke noted Obama's meetings with the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, as well as the joint statements of the U.S., Russia and France's presidents made in Deauville this year, in Muskoka last year and in L'Aquila the year before.
Bradtke also stressed the State Secretary Hillary Clinton's efforts in the settlement process, reamind about her visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan last year, as well as periodic meetings with the presidents and foreign ministers of both countries.
"Our common interest is to avoid war. We are in solidarity with the Russian and French that there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement," Bradtke said. "Now we are here, and the question is whether the parties have political will to accept the principles of settlement and move to the next stage - the turning of the principles into the important details of a final peace settlement," he added.
A trilateral meeting between the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian presidents will be held in Kazan on June 24.
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.