By Rashid Shirinov
The only way to resolve the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the return of the sides to the negotiation table in good faith, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger told Interfax on November 20.
“The OSCE provides a forum for dialogue and supports the sides in working towards a lasting peace. For this, there needs to be a genuine political will and commitment from the sides,” he said.
He further welcomed the meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Geneva on October 16, held under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. Greminger noted that this meeting was the first direct talks at this level in more than a year.
“In particular, I welcome that the presidents agreed to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the contact line,” he said.
The Secretary General also noted that is absolutely essential for the sides to adhere strictly to the ceasefire regime established in 1994.
Although the ceasefire agreement was signed more than 20 years ago, Armenia still does not comply with it. Not a day passes without ceasefire violations by Armenia’s armed forces in the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border and the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, the Armenian militaries using heavy machine guns and mortars deliberately aim at Azerbaijan settlements near the frontline in order to hurt civilians living there.
Greminger noted that the Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs, remains the only accepted format by the sides.
“It has the full confidence of all OSCE participating states. The Minsk Group co-chairs and the chairperson-in-office through his personal representative are continuously in direct contact with the sides in efforts to ease tensions and promote negotiations,” he said.
Azerbaijan has long ago stated it is ready to settle the conflict through direct negotiations with Armenia with mediation of the Minsk Group. However, the Armenian side is not interested in these talks, therefore it constantly tries to make up reasons to avoid a constructive dialogue and preserve the unacceptable status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh, thus indefinitely delaying the settlement of the conflict.
In his other interview with RBK, Greminger noted that OSCE closely follows the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“We have a special tool – a mission led by personal representative of the OSCE Secretary General Andrzej Kasprzyk, whose employees are closely watching the situation along the contact line. We were worried about the outbreak of the conflict in the recent past,” he said.
Greminger further noted that his role as the Secretary General is to support the work of the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group.
The Minsk Group, the activities of which have become known as the Minsk Process, spearheads the OSCE’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is co-chaired by France, the Russian Federation and the United States. However, mainly due to the reluctance of Armenia to join serious negotiations, the Group’s activities have brought no breakthrough results so far although it deals with the issue for over two decades.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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