U.S. Co-chair Busts Settlement Before Leaving

    • Comments - 24 August 2017, 13:53
The American co-chair of the Minsk Group Richard Hoagland has published the main points of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

The sides must define a lasting legal status based on mutual agreement and binding expression of will in light of the complicated history of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said. The territories within the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region which is not controlled by Baku must be granted an interim status which ensures at least guarantees of security and sovereignty, Ambassador Hoagland noted. The “occupied” territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh must pass under Azerbaijan’s control, and they cannot be populated without considering Azerbaijan’s sovereignty. The sovereignty of Azerbaijan over these territories must be restored, he noted, adding that there must be a corridor connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, which must be wide enough for safe transportation but cannot include the entire region of Lachin. A lasting settlement must recognize the rights of all displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence, envisage international security guarantees, including peacekeeping missions. There is no scenario in which peace can be guaranteed without well-prepared peace actions enjoying the confidence of all the sides.

This publication of the Voice of America was headlined “urgent”. “The word “urgent” in the title is not appropriate,” the spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tigran Balayan told News.am, refraining from other comments. Does this mean that Armenia agrees but it is not urgent or what?

Interestingly, Hoagland’s statement followed the Putin-Sargsyan meeting in Sochi during which , according to the official press release, the Karabakh issue was discussed too. Besides, this was Hoagland’s farewell statement. Soon he will be replaced by Andrew Schofer in the Minsk Group.

Hoagland’s statement was a surprise considering his previous statements which noted that currently the urgent issue is to set up confidence building mechanisms at the line of contact. On the other hand, the points that he has published are not new, they are almost the same principles of Madrid which were on the table of negotiations for a decade.

On the other hand, the publication of this option is interesting, considering that after the April war both mediators and international experts hinted that this option is no longer actual. In his turn, Serzh Sargsyan announced that all the options have been submitted to the OSCE secretariat except the Russian plan of Kazan.

Do the Americans have any information that Putin and Sargsyan have discussed any “separate” option and decided to “balance” it with Hoagland’s statement, hinting that they will not accept separate agreements, or yet are there other circumstances?

The principles of Madrid which do not differ much from the points published by Hoagland have actually been rejected by Armenia and Azerbaijan. In fact, it was an “imitation settlement” which ended with the April war. After Vienna and Saint Petersburg the sides arrived at the following: Armenia insists on stationing mechanisms of confidence and a definition of Karabakh’s status to be followed by a discussion of other points. Azerbaijan declines every proposal and insists on the withdrawal of the Armenian forces with the “peace for withdrawal” formula, thus trying to retain its “right to war”.

It goes without saying that these positions are not compatible and are anchored in the status or war scheme. It is difficult to continue the imitation of settlement. In addition, the creativity of the sides is essential: it would be the perfect option for the international community.

In this situation, the problem of Armenia is to deprive Azerbaijan of the right to territory and war, particularly according to the option Kosovo 2. Any other option will lead to war and disaster in Karabakh.

Before farewell the American co-chair actually “busted” the main points of the settlement the meaning of which could be the so-called continuation of imitation, as well as leading the sides into a new agenda which is going to be during the term of the new co-chair.