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Statement of OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs - back to 19 years ago - COMMENT

The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group demonstrated their activity after numerous protests and a wave of criticism.

Last weekend, co-chairs Andrew Schofer (USA), Stéphane Visconti (France) and Igor Popov (Russia) issued a joint statement based on the Madrid Principle and the Helsinki Final Act: "The co-chairs stress the importance of supporting a favorable climate for effective debates and welcome the absence of human losses on the frontline."

The document stresses the need for a just and lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act: “Any attempt to make one principle superior to the others will make a balanced solution impossible.” The statement reads that the occupied territories around Karabakh must be returned to Azerbaijan and so on. That is the previously voiced ideas and principles have been repeated. At the same time, the document stresses that the co-chairs are prepared to meet with Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders and foreign ministers at any time. In addition, the co-chairs have expressed their commitment to helping the parties to resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with their mandate.

Commenting on the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the upcoming meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Spokesperson for Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Leyla Abdullayeva said that official Baku is committed to the negotiating process and is always ready for substantial talks: "This statement of the Minsk Group co-chairs is a signal to Armenia, and we welcome it. When receiving Minsk Group co-chairs President Ilham Aliyev drew the co-chairs’ attention to our country’s position. Talks on the settlement of the conflict are held between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The format of the negotiations remains unchanged. Attempts to invite the so-called regime established in the occupied territories of our country and change formats are unacceptable. Stressing the importance of basing the statement on the Helsinki Final Act, the President commented on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh status saying 'Regarding the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, it can be a subject of discussion without undermining the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.' Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated its position on this issue, saying that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan should be determined by both communities of this region - the Armenian and Azerbaijani populations.” Leyla Abdullayeva said the concerned parties within the negotiations are the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and these communities have equal rights.

In fact, these principles and Azerbaijan's position have been conveyed to Armenia and international mediators for many years. However, official Yerevan does not have the government that can form a positive vision of this issue. Any protracted conflict threatens security in the region, economic development, relations and co-operation and fight against terrorism. Last year's events in Armenia prove that the situation in the country is getting worse. Sponsors impose commitments on the government. These commitments also weaken Armenia, increasing population outflow. The change of power has opened new opportunities for official Yerevan to resolve the Karabakh conflict. If Armenia withdraws from Azerbaijani lands, it can reduce its dependence on sponsors. As a sovereign state, the country can be rescued from the economic downturn after being involved in regional economic projects. It would also create favorable conditions for investing in Armenia.

By the way, many years ago the country’s first president, chairman of the Armenian National Congress Party Levon Ter-Petrosyan admitted the severity of the situation in Armenia. He said that territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh must be returned to Azerbaijan: "The territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh should be returned to Azerbaijan in accordance with the negotiating document of the parties. If we do not do it voluntarily, then these lands will be subjected to sanctions. At the same time, the protraction of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement will further weaken Armenia.” The former president emphasized that since 2007, Armenia has been negotiating on this plan: "The key party in the talks is the OSCE and Russia. It turns out that those who criticize us, in fact, criticize their plans. " From this point of view, the proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are not new. A few years ago, Ter-Petrosyan expressed his views on the concrete program at the negotiating table:

"At the first stage, five regions except for Kalbajar and Lachin will be returned to Azerbaijan. The second stage provides for the deployment of peacekeepers on the contact line of the troops. At the third stage, the recognition of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be reviewed." At the fourth stage, the blockade of Karabakh and Armenia will be eliminated, relations between Azerbaijan, Karabakh, Armenia and possibly Turkey will be established and the final status of Karabakh will be considered at the fifth stage. At the sixth stage, the rest two regions will be returned to Azerbaijan except for the Lachin corridor. Before his forced resignation in February 1998, Ter-Petrosyan said that his country would have to make concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It was this article that led to his resignation. The former president, who briefed on the country's severe situation, spoke at a rally held in Yerevan: "Is Armenia able to maintain the status quo for the 20, 30 or 40 years? Does it have enough resources to develop its own economy, to overcome the obstacles caused by the blockade? Finally, can our country stand the competition with Azerbaijan? "

In an interview with Armenian media in October last year, the US Ambassador to Yerevan, Richard Mills, said: "Armenia will have to make compromises with Azerbaijan for resolving the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” Mills said that he was surprised when he first got there and found out that most Armenians he met adamantly opposed returning the occupied territories as part of a negotiated settlement.

He noted that return of land was one of the core principles of the Madrid Principles.

The reality is that any solution requires the return of some portion of the occupied territories, he added.

Finally, the Karabakh region and the surrounding districts of Azerbaijan are occupied on behalf of Armenia. Hence, those behind Armenia have also turned it into the main target. As a result, Armenia has an image of invader in the world that threatens regional security and hinders regional development. The Armenian population suffers most from this meaningless occupation because Armenia, which is dependent on sponsors in all respects, cannot keep these lands occupied for a long time. It is assumed that chief advisor to the current head of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan is Ter-Petrosyan – a gray cardinal of his political forces. According to his previous speeches and the latest statement made by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, it is possible to assume that official Yerevan intends to return to the position it supported 19 years ago.

As it is seen from the statement, the only way is to liberate the Azerbaijani lands from occupation, since, although 19 years have passed, conditions, proposals and methods will remain unchanged unless the Nagorno-Karabakh is liberated.

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