Restoring full-format negotiations key to achieving progress – Artsakh FM

To achieve real progress in the settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Karabakh, it is necessary to restore the full-format negotiations, with the participation of the Republic Artsakh in all the stages, Artsakh Foreign Minister Masis Mayilian told a press conference in Stepanakert.

“The full-fledged participation of Artsakh in the negotiations will increase the effectiveness of the peace process. The authorities of Artsakh continue to advocate for their equal participation in the process and are ready to assume their share of responsibility for the maintenance of regional stability and for the destiny of the region as a whole,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said “the lack of full-format negotiations is a derivative of Azerbaijani leadership’s lack of political will to achieve a final settlement of the conflict.”

“By impeding the resumption of the full-format negotiations with the direct and full-fledged participation of Artsakh, refusing to implement the peacemaking initiatives to strengthen the ceasefire, and pursuing a consistent policy of escalating the conflict, Azerbaijan deliberately protracts the establishment of lasting peace in the region,” Masis Mayilian said.

On the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ proposal to expand the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the Foreign Minister said: “The Republic of Artsakh has always supported the initiatives aimed at strengthening the ceasefire regime, and has repeatedly made various proposals to reduce tensions on the Line of Contact between the armed forces of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. In doing so, we always take into account that these steps should not be formal or declarative, but should make a real contribution to the stabilization of the situation on the Line of Contact. The same approach applies equally to the proposal on expanding the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, which should not be limited to a formal increase in the number of staff, but should provide for increased monitoring capabilities of the Office.”

“The implementation of this proposal will be an important step in the right direction. However, merely the expansion of the staff of the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and its increased monitoring capabilities are not sufficient to ensure stability and predictability on the Line of Contact between the armed forces of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. It is also necessary to implement other initiatives on strengthening the ceasefire, in particular, the proposal on mechanism of investigation incidents agreed upon in 2011. In this context, the practical application of the agreement of February 6, 1995, reached by Azerbaijan, Artsakh and Armenia under the aegis of the OSCE, is also of great importance. The agreement contains a whole complex of militarily significant measures on stabilization of crisis situations,” Mayilian said.

Asked about the expectations from the negotiation process in 2018, the Foreign Minister said: “The April war in 2016 clearly demonstrated that at the current stage, the priority task in the settlement process of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Karabakh is to strengthen the ceasefire and to ensure the irreversibility of the peace process. In this regard, our expectations for 2018 are mainly related to the implementation of the already mentioned proposal on the expansion of the staff and the increased monitoring capabilities of the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. The next step, in our opinion, should be a more substantive, result-oriented discussion of the mechanism for investigating violations of the cease-fire regime.”

“We are convinced that stability and security on the Line of Contact will have a multiplicative effect on the entire settlement process. In particular, they will allow avoiding human casualties, thus eliminating the main source of maintaining tension in the relations between the societies of the conflicting parties. This, in turn, will create a favorable environment for implementing measures to restore confidence between the parties. Combined, these steps will ensure a more constructive situation for the promotion of the negotiation process,” he added.

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