By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Representatives of only Baku and Yerevan have participated in the negotiations mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs over the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, former Minsk Group co-chair from the U.S. Matthew Bryza told local media on February 19.
He was commenting on Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s comments during Munich Security Council on February 15 that the regime created in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh have participated in the negotiations process twice.
"The OSCE Minsk Group has recognized only two parties to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan and Armenia," Bryza emphasized.
Recalling the times when he was the co-chair, Bryza said the Armenian side occasionally requested participation by the so-called ‘representatives’ of Nagorno-Karabakh, but all three co-chairs consistently rejected these requests.
He added that after the co-chairs’ quiet rebuffs, Yerevan never pressed the issue further.
"I interpreted this approach as a sign of the Armenian government’s need to “check a political box” with Karabakh Armenians without provoking Azerbaijan and threatening the positive momentum we were building at the negotiating table," Bryza concluded.
In the past two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in the protracted conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Since a war in the early 1990s, the Armenian armed forces have occupied nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.
Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles. The Madrid Principles proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group stipulates the return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; determining the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh; a corridor linking Armenia to the region; and the right of all internally displaced persons to return home.
However, the negotiations have been largely fruitless so far despite the efforts of the co-chair countries over 20 years.
A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994 and to this date Armenia has failed to implement the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions urging its pullout from the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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