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Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh: the annual déjà vu

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 22 December 2011 13:29 (UTC +04:00)
According to tradition it is acceptable to sum up and talk about the prospects of some important events in political life by the end of the year, but there is almost nothing to talk about with the peace process over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Alas, a couple of words are enough to understand what is happening in the negotiations of Azerbaijan and Armenia - complete stagnation.
Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh: the annual déjà vu

Elmira Tariverdiev, Trend European desk commentator

According to tradition it is acceptable to sum up and talk about the prospects of some important events in political life by the end of the year, but there is almost nothing to talk about with the peace process over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Alas, a couple of words are enough to understand what is happening in the negotiations of Azerbaijan and Armenia - complete stagnation. There were negotiations, as in 2010, but they failed. The FMC OSCE meeting in Vilnius did not introduce anything new in the process of negotiations.

All three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, called on the conflicting parties to come to an agreement at the end of 2010. The Russian Foreign Minister made a proposal to take advantage of developments announced recently as a result of the parties in the conflict making contact with President Medvedev. Moreover, all the intermediaries noted that real progress had not been achieved in the negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh in recent years.
Of course, one would assume a positive development in the adoption of the joint statement of the OSCE Minsk Group delegation head and the parties in the conflict in the framework of FMC OSCE, but this is not the first time there have not been any results.

The futility of the Minsk group co-chairs annual appeals is easily explained. It is unprofitable for Yerevan to take real steps towards a settlement despite the clear international attention on the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is significant that Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian unleashed a storm of criticism in Azerbaijan, devoting all of his performance to "injustices committed against Yerevan" immediately after the joint statement in the framework of FMC. This position is not surprising. It is easier for Yerevan to maintain the status quo as long as possible, delaying the settlement process for an indefinite period.

Moreover, even the initiative of Azerbaijan to hold a meeting of representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijan communities of Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2011 crashed against the reluctance of Yerevan.

At the same time the international community did not seem to understand that the only way out of the situation should be the active participation of all mediators in the negotiations and their increasing pressure on Yerevan.

Russia was the most active mediator during 2011, as well as in 2010. President Dmitry Medvedev has spent a lot of time and effort to ensure that the negotiation process moved forward. It is recognised officially by Baku, making reservations on the participation of France and the United States in the negotiations.

Alas, Paris and Washington seem to be more concerned by their presidential election campaigns than by the fulfilment of their obligations.

And while all three countries will not put enough effort to convince Yerevan to take a step toward resolving the conflict, we shouldn't hope for progress in the settlement. This is especially considering the fact that officially Yerevan does not make a concession in matters of the liberation of occupied Azerbaijani lands, does not agree to a compromise of Azerbaijan and periodically makes provocative statements to recognise the independence of Nagorno Karabakh and rename the Azerbaijani districts.
Armenia's actions are contrary to the real desire of Azerbaijan to reach an agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh, and neither Russia nor Washington, nor the OSCE nor any other international mediator can advance the negotiations by persuasion, taking into account the fact that Yerevan is satisfied with the current state of affairs and isn't going to move from its non-constructive, but convenient position.
The stagnation will continue if the mediating countries do not make a genuine effort and not insist on the fact that Armenia has finally changed its position and refused to delay tactics of the conflict for all eternity in 2012. And it isn't known what results will bring such appeasement to Yerevan from the international players' side, taking into account the growing tensions on the frontline.

The mediators cannot understand that Baku has every reason to be impatient with this situation, while Armenia has no right to delay the negotiations, finding more and more absurd pretexts for maintaining the status quo.

Another important issue may be a question of involving the EU in the activities of OSCE Minsk Group in 2012. It became particularly relevant against the backdrop of strengthening the Armenian diaspora role in talks on Nagorno-Karabakh in France and in the U.S. The Armenian lobby in the West has played an active political role amongst the decision-making authorities in the U.S. and France in contrast to the Russian diaspora.

In this context, it would be better if the European Union took over the political involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict along with the Minsk Group. In particular EU mediation could be successful, taking into account the project of European integration, in which all the countries of South Caucasus are equally interested.

Projects, the implementation of which is hampered by the lack of stability in the region, could become the basis for dialogue between the conflicting sides , including Armenia and Azerbaijan., The EU should become better acquainted with the realities of the conflict to enable it to become an active participant in the settlement, as many European leaders are still not well informed about the nuances of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and are not aware of the fact that 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory is occupied.

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