One Way EU could Better Assist in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Resolution is to Become Member of OSCE Minsk Group - Director of Europe Program.

One Way EU could Better Assist in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Resolution is to Become Member of OSCE Minsk Group - Director of Europe Program.

Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend , corr A.Gasimova / Trend's exclusive inteview with Director of Europe Program, Sabine Freizer Director of Europe Program, Sabine Freizer

Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend , corr A.Gasimova / Trend's exclusive inteview with Director of Europe Program, Sabine Freizer Director of Europe Program, Sabine Freizer

Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend , corr A.Gasimova / Trend's exclusive inteview with Director of Europe Program, Sabine Freizer Director of Europe Program, Sabine Freizer

Question: How could you estimate the activity of the OSCE Minsk Group in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

Answer: This will be the subject of a report that we plan to publish in mid-2007. So until then, and our research is complete, I do not want to assess the OSCE Minsk Group's work.

Question: How will the forthcoming parliamentary elections to be held in Armenia have an effect on the peaceful resolution of the conflict? Are representatives of the Crisis Group going to observe the forthcoming Armenian elections?

Answer: I don't believe that the forthcoming Armenian parliamentary elections are going to substantially affect the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But of course it's too early to predict which party or parties will do well in the election, and the position that they will have on the conflict after being elected. We will monitor the Armenian elections, as we do all general political developments in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Question: The group you led prepared a report on EU's capabilities on preventing and resolving conflicts in South Caucasus. What importance, in your opinion does EU attach to its co-operation with countries of South Caucasus and what could you say about the Organization's capability to assist in resolving conflicts in the region?

Answer: The EU has become increasingly involved during the past years in the South Caucasus especially after the inclusion of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia in the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). In 2007 the EU, together with South Caucasus states, will start preparing projects to benefit from funding of the ENP Initiative.

Since 2006 a new EU Special Representative, Ambassador Semneby, has also been active on conflict related issues. The EU has also increased its political statements on regional conflicts, and is likely to include a series of conflict related projects under ENPI funding. In this regard, Georgia has particularly been successful in lobbying the EU to take a stronger political role in assisting resolve its conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The EU's capability to address conflict in the South Caucasus is clearly growing. But that does not mean that it is going to use military force rather it will help through political statements and project implementation.

I think that one way the EU could better assist in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution is to become a member of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Question: International Crisis Group intends to make public its annual report on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2007. What will be the difference between this report and the previous ones?

Answer: The International Crisis Group does not plan to publish an annual report on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The annual report that we will publish will review ICG's activities in 2006 in some 50 areas of actual or potential conflict, in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.

ICG hopes to publish a new report on Nagorno-Karabakh mid 2007 to measures developments in the negotiations process since our last two reports on NK published in 2005. This report will be an update. It will ask, how has the Minsk Group Prague Process evolved since Fall 2005 and what are the impediments to a final compromise solution.

Question: In your opinion, how can the conflict in South Caucasus be resolved on the whole?

Answer: For there to be a resolution of the South Caucasus conflicts all sides have to be willing to sit down at the negotiations table and make tough compromises. No government should promise their people a quick solution to the conflicts through a military offensive. Rather, there is a need for confidence building and people to people contacts on both sides of the confrontation lines. Ultimately throughout the South Caucasus all refugees and internally displaced persons should be able to voluntarily return to their pre-war homes. All sides should see that they will benefit more from conflict resolution - especially with regards to economic development and trade - than from war. If the region can function as an economic whole, it will be much more attractive to foreign investors.

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