Co-Chairs hope for a meeting between Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan: Warlick

US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick hopes the Presidents of Armenia will meet to continue discussions on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Speaking to reporters in Yerevan, Ambassador Warlick outlined the objectives of the mediators’ visit to the region.

“First, we’re glad that the ceasefire has been generally observed since the outbreak of large-scale military actions in April, but there have been casualties. Even one casualty is too much, and we want to talk to the parties about the casualties and the tension along the line of contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” Warlick said.

Second, he said, the mediators aim to follow up on the implementation of the decisions made during the summit meetings in Vienna and St. Petersburg. “Third, our mission as mediators is to work towards lasting peace that the people of the region deserve. I hope the dialogue will continue on the highest level. We do hope the Presidents will meet to continue the discussions,” the US diplomat said.

Amb. Warlick said the Helsinki Final Act is acceptable to all parties and the future peace deal will be based on three principles – the right of peoples to self-determination, territorial integrity and non-use of force or the threat of force.

Spekaing about the outcomes of the summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg, Warlick said an important decision was to expand the OSCE observer mission under the direction of Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.

Speaking about Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s statement on provision of autonomy to Nagorno Karabakh, James Warlick said the “the issue of status should be a subject of full and frank discussion not only privately between the Presidents, but also the peoples.” “Positions of the parties may differ, but the issue should be put on discussion. We welcome President Aliyev’s statement not because it is the last word, but because he put the issue up for a discussion,” Warlick said.

Asked whether it was possible for the people of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan to live peacefully side-by-side, the Co-Chair said: “It’s my dream and the dream of the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan that both parties live side-by side in peace and security as they once did. We want to redouble our efforts to bring a comprehensive settlement acceptable to both parties. Supporting people-to-people contacts is an important element of our work.”

Referring to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statement that there are no conditions for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict at this point, Amb. Warlick said “Secretary Kerry is committed to bringing a negotiated settlement.”

“The US together with the other co-chairs is committed to move forward on the path of negotiations. We believe there is an opportunity. There are proposals on the table we can work on, and we want to see political will from the Presidents to commit themselves to moving forward.”

“All elements of a comprehensive settlement must be on the table and under discussion. No side should chose the elements more convenient to it. There must be a frank discussion on all elements, including the status of Karabakh, the return of refugees and IDPs, the format of an international peacekeeping mission, etc,” James Warlick said. “Nothing is settled, until everything is settled,” he added.

The US Co-Chair attached importance to the expansion of Amb. Kasprzyk’s mission. “Ideally, the agreement reached at the meetings in Vienna and St. Petersburg would have been in place by now. One of the purposes of our visit is to talk about the issue. I’m confident we’ll reach the expansion of Kasprzyk’s mission after 20 years, and it will be an important step in the right direction.”

Amb. Warlick said “the most effective way to move forward is for the Presidents to commit themselves to negotiations that will bring a comprehensive settlement. We want to the Presidents to talk to each other, we want political will from the sides to move forward. We’ll help the Presidents to find an early opportunity to meet.”

“Our mission is to facilitate discussions between the Presidents that can lead to a settlement. We cannot do it ourselves. We need goodwill from the Presidents,” James Warlick added.

“I’m absolutely convinced that both Presidents are fully committed to a peaceful settlement, neither side wants war, because they know the high price that will be paid by renewed conflict. We saw it in April and we do not want to see it again. There is no date set for the next meeting, but we are willing to facilitate a meeting whenever needed,” he stated.

“We are there to facilitate and mediate, to put good ideas on the table, but it’s up to the Presidents to decide. There can be no peace imposed on the parties,” the US Co-Chair said.

He said there are no new ideas on the table. “Many of the ideas have been under discussion for years,” James Warlick concluded.

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