Thomas de Waal: There are no negotiations as such

Lena Badeyan
Public Radio of Armenia

American expert Thomas de Waal, who has been studying the Nagorno Karabakh issue for years, has several proposals, which should be used in the negotiations, if the parties want to succeed.

According to the expert, what happened at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the line of contact in early August was a simple “show of power.” He does not exclude, however, that similar actions in, let’s say, five years could grow into new military conflict and considers that this is the most unwanted possible scenario of development.

Having followed the negotiation process for years, Thomas de Waal declared today: “The parties should finally proceed to more serious work.”

“What’s taking place today has all external expressions of negotiations, but there are no talks as such; no strategic issues like concessions are being discussed during those meetings,” the senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, expert Thomas de Vaal told reporters in Yerevan.

According to him, judging from what Azerbaijan understands under concessions, one can assert we have not come a step closer to the final solution.

“Azerbaijan is not interested in resolving the conflict now,” said Shahin Rzayev the Head of the Baku Office of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, who joined the discussion through Internet.

“Imagine that tomorrow the Armenians of Karabakh demand protection of their rights, democratic elections. This is a headache. In reality, the settlement of the Karabakh issue is not a priority not only for the US and the European Union, but also Azerbaijan and Armenia. This is the reason the problem is unsolved,” Shahin Rzayev said.

According to him, personal relations between the Presidents of the two countries are another reason. “Aliyev and Sargsyan do not like each other,” he said.

Speaking about the future plans, Thomas de Wall said: “The confidence level is so low that it is necessary to expand the framework of experts. There are 2-3 people from each side engaged in the issue.” According to him, there are so many issues, which should be addressed by separate groups. These include the refugee rights, the issue of Lachin, security issues, and, most importantly, the status of Karabakh.

That’s why Thomas de Waal supports the proposal of the Swiss party to change the format of negotiations and take the meetings from the presidential level to different platforms. The expert still connects hopes with future meetings, but says those are formal unless some minor issues are  unsolved.

The American expert also considers that the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents should have advisers on issues of Nagorno Karabakh, who will seriously engage in the process and will meet more frequently than the leaders.

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