Azerbaijan, Baku, 5 August / Trend corr. A.Gasimova/ Director of the Europe programme at the International Crisis Group Sabine Freizer believes it would be expedient to replace France, which is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group engaged in settling of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, by the European Union.
"I believe that the EU can play a greater role in assisting reduce tensions in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. When the chairmanship of the current French representative ends, I would recommend that the French Minsk Group position be handed over to an EU representative," Freizer said to Trend on 5 August.
Armenia occupied 20% of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by representatives of the United States, Russia and France is the intermediary for peace settlement of the conflict.
According to Freizer, ideally the three representatives in the Minsk Group should be high level political officials if we expect that they are going to have any political influence over the process.
"But on the other hand, it makes no sense to expect that a solution to the NK conflict is going to be come from the outside. Azerbaijan and Armenia, their political leadership and their people, will eventually need to agree to a compromise. This will only happen when they come to the conclusion that compromise is better than more fighting," she said.
"I still believe that the current formula on the table is the best one possible: return of seven occupied districts to NK, full withdrawal by forces from Armenia, refugee/IDP return to all areas including NK, normalization of the situation, determination of NK's ultimately status postponed until all people can participate fully in a democratic process. Once withdrawal begins and refugee return starts the deadlock in the negotiations process will be broken and tensions diminish," said Freizer.
The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan lost the Nagorno-Karabakh, except of Shusha and Khojali, in December 1991. In 1992-93, Armenian Armed Forces occupied Shusha, Khojali and Nagorno-Karabakh's seven surrounding regions. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The countries keep on peace negotiating.
The OSCE Minsk Group's French co-chair is Bernard Fassier.
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