The 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg has failed to reach a clear progress on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. Armenia, as a party to the conflict, refused to sit at a negotiation table with Azerbaijan in an extended format.
The OSCE Minsk Group holding a mandate for mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks could not take any effective step so far to push out of the deadlock the conflict that emerged in late 1980s by force of Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
A proposal to hold a 3+2 (Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers and foreign ministers of Russia, U.S. and France) came from France, a co-chairing country of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is frequently criticized for inactivity. In this regards, holding a meeting in the format of 3+2 on the sidelines of the Council in Hamburg seemed quite tempting and of utter importance.
However, this mediation effort backed by Baku was broken by Yerevan for the next time, clearly demonstrating lack of the will or interest of the Armenian side to tackle the problem.
The Hamburg meeting put a special emphasis on the necessity of solving the long-lasting Nagorno-Karabakh problem as a number of top officials repeatedly stated the necessity of finding a durable peace mechanism. Heads of delegations of the OSCE Minsk group co-chair countries – Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, and Foreign Minister of France Jean-Marc Ayrault – made a joint statement on the conflict where expressed full commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“In light of the dramatic escalation in violence along the line of contact in April, we express concern over continuing armed incidents, including reports on the use of heavy weapons, and strongly condemn the use of force or the threat of use of force," said the statement.
The Minsk Group co-chair countries also noted in the statement that they are prepared to host a meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan when they are ready. The statement expressed confidence in the need for early negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"Continuous and direct dialogue between the presidents, conducted under the auspices of the co-chairs, remains an essential element in building confidence and moving the peace process forward," the statement said.
Armenia tries to impede the negotiation process by all means. Last meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents were held in Vienna in May and St. Petersburg in June. After that, the talks stalled, although, the Azerbaijani side and the country's president constantly said Baku is ready to come to the negotiating table with Yerevan. However, Armenia falls on deaf ears to these calls.
Furthermore, Yerevan remains loyal to its tradition to blackmail each meeting, making absurd statements. This time Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian took another attempt to deceive the public opinion.
However, Azerbaijan's just answer for Armenia was not long in coming. "Armenia’s statements are aimed at disrupting the negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement as well as the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs," Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said.
Not accepting the OSCE principles Armenia worsens the situation violating the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops. By this, the aggressor side tries to provoke Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces. Moreover, Armenians regularly try to carry out acts of sabotage on the contact line between the troops and by this aggravate the situation.
Preserving a fragile status quo Armenia tries to hamper the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Yerevan ignores international acts on the conflict, including the OSCE Madrid Principles presented almost a decade ago. The document underlines necessity of returning regions around Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control, as well as returning more than a million of Azerbaijani international displaced persons to their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly 1 million were displaced as a result of the war.
Large-scale hostilities ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire in 1994 but Armenia continued the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal.
Peace talks mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. have produced no results so far.
The illegal presence of the Armenian troops in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan remains the main cause of the escalation in the region, and it is an obstacle to peaceful settlement of the conflict.
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