No news is good news?: OSCE’s Vilnius meeting produces no significant results for Karabakh settlement

No news is good news?: OSCE’s Vilnius meeting produces no significant results for Karabakh settlement

Minister Nalbandian meets OSCE MG co-chairs

The two-day meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers’s Council which opened in Vilnius, Lithuania, December 6 has suggested nothing fundamentally new for resolving the Karabakh conflict.

Some experts expected the signing of a document on the withdrawal of snipers from front lines, but nothing to that effect was signed, instead a joint statement merely called for the specification of mechanisms to investigate incidents at the line of contact. The statement only briefly mentioned the principles of settlement worked out in Madrid in 2007 and also said the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are ready to meet again.

Each party offered its own concept - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested returning to the trilateral format of talks, Armenia-Azerbaijan-Russia, the OSCE insists on developing mechanisms to prevent escalation of tensions. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reminded about the principle of territorial integrity and offered his country’s assistance in resolving the Karabakh conflict, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with EU representatives, state about the need for an exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict.

The heads of the delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries (Russia, the United States and France) reiterated their position that there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“The the United Nations Charter, the Principles of the Helsinki Final Act, and the elements outlined in the joint statements of their Presidents at L’Aquila in July 2009 and Muskoka in June 2010 offer the way for all sides to move beyond the unacceptable status quo to reach a peaceful settlement,” said the mediators.

At the same time, official Yerevan immediately welcomed Moscow’s call addressed to Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. Speaking at the meeting in Vilnius, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan drew the meeting’s attention to the fact that control over armaments and the establishment of trust and security are among the priorities of the OSCE.

“It is regrettable that the current military-political situation is characterized by non-compliance with and violation of arms control. Azerbaijan continues a destabilizing increasing of the military budget thus violating all of its international obligations and general principles of security, simultaneously resorting to military rhetoric, which is a violation of one of the fundamental principles of the OSCE – the principle of non-use of force or threat of force,” said Nalbandyan. He urged the OSCE to demonstrate a proper assessment and appropriate response to this behavior.

Nalbandyan said that Azerbaijan has repeatedly ignored calls by the UN secretary general, the OSCE chairperson-in-office, for snipers to be withdrawn from the line of contact line, for the ceasefire regime to be strengthened, calls that Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have provided positive responses to.

Thus, it can be stated that the Madrid principles of Karabakh conflict settlement are no longer urgent, the mediators do not offer anything new, and their activity is reduced to maintaining peace and stability in the region and to preventing the possible start of military operations by Azerbaijan.

It is also assumed that in the near future another meeting will be held by the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan with Russia’s mediation, possibly at an informal summit of leaders of some former Soviet states to be held in Moscow on December 20.