The OSCE Minsk Group, an international framework established to settle the long-standing Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has voiced determination to continue work on a new meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents.
Though the Bern meeting of the two presidents last December hasn’t yielded the desirable results, some officials believe that holding of such a meeting was itself a positive sign for the resolution of the conflict, a source of major instability in the South Caucasus region.
James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group is sure that after more than a year without a meeting, it was important for the presidents to talk face-to-face and clarify their positions in Bern.
The meeting between Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia took place on December 19 under the auspices of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Warlick told Trend that although the sides didn’t achieve any breakthrough in Bern, the co-chairs will aim to bring the presidents together again in 2016.
He added that the sides discussed a range of issues, including violence along the contact line and Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and proposals regarding a settlement of the conflict.
Though the Bern meeting was expected to hush the intensive ceasefire breaches on the contact line, the situation indeed has worsened even more. Azerbaijan’s positions come under intensive fire of the Armenian armed forces on a daily basis.
Warlick said the co-chairs will continue their work with the foreign ministers on proposals regarding a settlement, measures to reduce the risk of violence, and programs to promote dialogue between the communities of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The world community, as well as OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, who were tasked to mediate for the peaceful resolution of the conflict, has repeatedly called for establishing a dialogue between the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh to accelerate the negotiations.
However, efforts in this direction haven’t yielded results as the Armenian side with all possible means tries to prevent such a dialogue supporting the current status quo that is unacceptable.
Warlick went on to add that the position of the OSCE MG regarding the conflict hasn’t changed.
He called on the sides to approach the upcoming summit constructively and use the opportunity to make progress towards a settlement.
Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly 1 million were displaced as a result of the war.
The peace talks have been largely fruitless so far despite the efforts of the co-chair countries over 20 years.
The sides to the conflict currently hold talks based on the renewed Madrid principles, which envisage return of occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control, ensure the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence, future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and etc.
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