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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/16/20

The prospect of the resumption of substantive negotiations on settlement of the Karabakh conflict

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Message Aram Manukyan

Two months after the July events on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, the situation in the Karabakh conflict zone is relatively calm.

Against the background of the belligerent rhetoric of the Azerbaijani leadership, it seems unreasonable for many Armenian experts to talk about resuming negotiations between the parties to the conflict. On the other hand, Armenian government feels an urgent need to put Aliyev and his team in their place, providing an opportunity to understand the depth of the consequences of armed provocations.

This requires cold-blooded and wise actions. Any demonstration of aggression will be used by the Azerbaijani agitprop as a convenient reason to draw public attention to the inadequacy of the population and the leadership of Armenia.

In this situation, statements about Yerevan's intention to resume the negotiation process through the Ministries of Foreign Affairs is a clever tactic. Especially against the background of appointment Jeyhun Bayramov as a new Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan.

In fact, the negotiations through the OSCE Minsk group, despite the formality of the events it organizes, play a significant role in preserving the nominal truce. Most members of the group are directly interested in a stable situation in the South Caucasus.

The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group (Russia, France and the United States), as well as Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Turkey, are among the mediators of the negotiation process on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.

This is an impressive set of mediators. Since the positions of these countries on the issue of conflict resolution differ from each other, the activities of the OSCE Minsk group receive less and less approval among the population of Armenia over time.

The Minsk group has made great efforts to reduce tension in the Karabakh conflict zone and restore the status quo, but its capabilities, if not completely exhausted, are approaching a minimum. Many scenarios of the Karabakh settlement proposed in different years by the Minsk process were rejected by the conflicting parties. Every time attempts at constructive dialogue were thwarted by regular outbreaks of military violence.

Nevertheless, the mediation side remains an essential condition for maintaining the diplomatic progress made over the entire history of the conflict.

Today, Russia stands out among all intermediaries. Just as it was in 2009-11, when the Russian President initiated dozens of meetings between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Then his initiative failed in Kazan in 2011, when Aliyev at the last moment refused to sign the already-agreed document. The developments of the Russian side after the April 2016 war at this stage have received a new manifestation. The Madrid principles for the settlement of the Karabakh issue, adopted at the OSCE summit in 2007, do not allow finding a compromise solution. In particular, the Madrid principles clash between two main international principles - the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the right of Armenian Karabakh to self-determination. That is why Moscow is trying to bring the approaches of the parties together by making new additions to the documents.

You can throw mud at Russia and Putin as much as you like for the supply of weapons to Azerbaijan. But it should be borne in mind that in the context of a crisis in the geopolitical situation, the Kremlin cannot afford to exchange cooperation with Azerbaijan. For the same reasons, Yerevan adheres to the policy of compliments.

Whatever the course of future negotiations, the most important thing now is the understanding that Armenia, having resolutely repulsed Azerbaijan's aggression, has once again confirmed that there is no military solution to this conflict. Both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have sufficient forces and resources to ensure their defense and security.


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an American journalist with expertise in the history and politics of Caucasus region

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