Russian co-chair of OSCE MG reveals details of Krakow meeting between Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs

The Krakow meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian meetings focused on discussing expanding the OSCE’s monitoring mission in the conflict zone, the Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Igor Popov, said in interview.

The ministers agreed in principle on the documents regulating the activities of additional seven observers prepared by the mediators, noted Popov.

“As you know, the decision was reached at the summit held in Switzerland in October 2017 to intensify the negotiation process and take additional measures aimed at reducing tensions on the contact line. Accordingly, after the summit, I had a series of consultations with my American and French colleagues, as well as with Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk and the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers. We also helped the ministers organize their two meetings, the last of which took place in Krakow,” he said.

“The Krakow meeting focused on reducing military risks, including expanding the OSCE monitoring mission in the conflict zone,” said the Russian co-chair. “The ministers agreed in principle on the documents regulating the activities of additional seven observers prepared by the mediators. Prior to the launch of such a mechanism for expanding the monitoring mission, there are still some technical details that must be agreed."

Popov went on to say that the most complicated aspects of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were also discussed during the ministerial meeting in Krakow.

“The sides also discussed the most complicated aspects that hamper the settlement process. These aspects are nothing new; the parties to the conflict have repeatedly voiced them. These aspects have to do with to the issues of status and territorial integrity,” he said.

The Russian co-chair stressed that the ideas voiced by the co-chairs are aimed at helping find a mutually acceptable solution.

“We hope to clarify Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s positions within the framework of our meetings with the presidents during our visit to the region scheduled to take place in the first ten days of February,” he added.

Asked if there are any specific offers or decisions on holding a meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents and if this issue would be on the agenda of next visit to the region, the Russian co-chair said that as mediators they favor continuing the political dialogue at the highest level, to which there is no alternative.

“However, only the parties themselves, having shown political will, can come to a compromising solution to end the protracted conflict. At the same time, for the next high-level summit to be held there needs to be careful preparations aimed at agreeing on what has to be the main subject of the meeting. We ourselves endeavor to give useful options to Baku and Yerevan. We’re going to discuss this during our forthcoming visit to the region. When the sides are ready to meet, considering the two presidents’ work schedule, available options, including the summit’s date and format, could be offered,” added Popov.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered its modern phase when the Armenian SRR made territorial claims against the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988.

A fierce war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. As a result of the war, Armenian armed forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includes Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.

The military operations finally came to an end when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Bishkek in 1994.

Dealing with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group, which was created after the meeting of the CSCE (OSCE after the Budapest summit held in Dec.1994) Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.

Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, the US and French co-chairs, which began operating in 1994.

Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, which were passed in short intervals in 1993, and other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, PACE, OSCE, OIC, and other organizations require Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh. APA