Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 12 October 2005 14:08 (UTC +04:00)

The International Crisis Group publicized on a report on Nagorno-Karabakh titled �Executive summary and recommendations’ on Tuesday, Trend reports Settlement of the long running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict -- the most significant obstacle to stability in the South Caucasus -- remains elusive, despite more optimistic noises recently from Azerbaijan and Armenia, the document reads.

В"Eleven years after the 1994 ceasefire, burgeoning defence budgets, increasing ceasefire violations, and continuing demonisation by each side of the other side are ominous signs that time for a peace agreement is running out. But a compromise can now be constructed around an approach that, while addressing all the matters in dispute, leaves the core issue of Nagorno-Karabakh's ultimate status open for later resolution, after other measures have been put in place.В", ICG notes.

Key elements of that proposed settlement package include the withdrawal of the Armenia-backed Nagorno-Karabakh forces from the occupied districts of Azerbaijan surrounding the entity; the renunciation by Azerbaijan of the use of force to reintegrate the entity; the deployment of international peacekeepers; the return of displaced persons; and the re-opening of trade and communication links.

Nagorno-Karabakh's status should ultimately be determined by an internationally sanctioned referendum with the exclusive participation of Karabakh Armenians and Azeris, but only after the above measures have been implemented, the report underlined.

To avoid a resumption of fighting the ICG recommends all parties to the conflict to respect the 1994 ceasefire, refrain from using force, not promote the use of force, and end the arms race in the region by halting the rise of defence budgets.

To create an appropriate environment for conflict settlement Azerbaijan should resume direct contact with the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities and facilitate the development of closer contact between Karabakh Azeris and Karabakh Armenians, the ICG emphasis.

The same time the ICG urges the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities to end support for settlement of formerly Azeri majority areas with Armenians, including by stopping privatisation of land, homes and businesses in those areas, ceasing to establish local administrations and infrastructure in the occupied areas adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh; and protecting the remaining Azeri homes.

Besides, the parties should sign an agreement that includes the following elements:

-renunciation of the threat or use of force to settle disputes, including any that may arise in connection with the implementation of the peace agreement;

- creation of a joint commission including Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh representatives and chaired by the OSCE to supervise implementation;

- incremental withdrawal of Nagorno-Karabakh forces backed by Armenia from all occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh, but beginning with five districts and occurring simultaneously with the deployment of international peacekeepers;

- withdrawal of Nagorno-Karabakh forces backed by Armenia from the Kelbajar district once appropriate security measures are in place at the Murov mountain pass, and from the Lachin district following agreements guaranteeing secure communications through the Lachin corridor;

- safe and voluntary return of displaced persons to their pre-war homes in the formerly occupied districts, once withdrawal and international deployment have been completed;

- implementation of confidence-building measures in cooperation with international organisations including the UN, International Committee of the Red Cross, OSCE and non-governmental organisations; and - identification of a referendum mechanism for resolving the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh, as set out below, with provision until then for the entity to have internationally recognized interim status, and its governing bodies to be elected under international supervision.