European Commissioner: EU seeks more involvement in resolving Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
The European Union wants to increase its involvement in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and is ready to allocate necessary funds to assist in settling this conflict and restoring the region, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule said in an interview with "Svoboda" radio station.
"At present, we allocate more funds for confidence-building measures between the sides in Transnistria or Karabakh. But this is only the first step," he stressed. "Brussels can do more, because now the opportunities of the EU's external office expanded, and willingness to resolve the problem increased," News.am quotes Fule as saying.
Fule said the EU is actively involved in the resolving another conflict hereabouts - Transnistria, and is willing to take the same steps with regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It should be recalled that the negotiations around the Transnistria conflict are underway in 5 +2 format, where "2" is U.S. and the EU, which act as an observer.
He said changing the current format of the OSCE Minsk Group is not discussed. "I do not think that we are dealing with the replacement of any Minsk Group member. I think the conflict sides and the OSCE Minsk Group should create the conditions for the EU's more involvement at this stage. However, we have willingness, as well as an opportunity to increase capacity," he stressed.
He said now and in the future the European Union can prepare a package of real assistance when the parties come to a final agreement along with confidence-building measures between the parties.
"This package will include measures that will contribute to social and economic development. If necessary, the EU can also restore the infrastructure to link certain areas with other countries," Fule underlined.
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 seven 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.