Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Caucasus Report

Are Armenia, Azerbaijan Closer To Signing Basic Principles Of Karabakh Peace Agreement?

There were hopes that Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (left) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (right) would come to agreement during their meeting in Kazan in June 2011.
There were hopes that Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (left) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (right) would come to agreement during their meeting in Kazan in June 2011.
During their two-hour talks in Vienna on November 19, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan reportedly "agreed to advance negotiations on a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict" and to meet again in the next few months. 

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has described the talks -- the first between himself and Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev since January 2012 -- as "positive" and as heralding "in all likelihood, the start of a new phase of negotiations." 

There has been no comparable statement from President Aliyev. But just days before the Vienna meeting,  Azerbaijan's delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) told a session of that body's Permanent Council that Azerbaijan was ready to endorse the current blueprint for resolving the conflict.

The peace process has to all intents and purposes been deadlocked since June 2011, when hopes that Aliyev and Sarkisian would sign a formal peace agreement during a summit in Kazan proved misplaced. In an apparent bid to break that deadlock, in October 2012 the co-chairmen of the OSCE's Minsk Group presented to the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers unspecified "ideas of a working proposal to advance the peace process."  

While some observers in Azerbaijan remain skeptical about the prospects for reviving the negotiating process, Armenian political scientists are more upbeat. The U.S. government, the Ukrainian chairman-in-office of the OSCE, and the European Union also hailed the resumption of face-to-face talks between the two presidents.

The Minsk Group has sought since 1992 to mediate a political solution to the conflict. In June 2006 it unveiled so-called Basic Principles for doing so, which were revised at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Madrid the following year. A revamped version was incorporated in a statement issued by the French, Russian, and U.S. presidents on the sidelines of the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, in July 2009. 

Those most important of those principles are:

-- The withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani districts bordering on Nagorno-Karabakh that they have occupied since 1992-1993 (this point fails to differentiate between the strategically crucial districts of Lachin and Kelbacar and the other five);

-- "interim status" for the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic providing guarantees for security and self-governance, pending

-- full determination of the region's future status through a "legally binding expression of will" (whether or not this entails a referendum, and if yes, who would be eligible to cast ballots, is not specified);

-- a land corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with the Republic of Armenia;

-- the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence; and

-- international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation.

According to the L'Aquila statement, "The Basic Principles reflect a reasonable compromise based on the Helsinki Final Act principles of Non-Use of Force, Territorial Integrity, and the Equal Rights and Self-Determination of Peoples.... The endorsement of these Basic Principles by Armenia and Azerbaijan will allow the drafting of a comprehensive settlement to ensure a future of peace, stability, and prosperity for Armenia and Azerbaijan and the broader region."

At every subsequent meeting of the G8, the three presidents have reaffirmed their support for the Basic Principles and urged the conflict parties to formally endorse them as the basis for a full-fledged peace agreement. In May 2011, just weeks before the ill-fated Kazan summit, they noted unspecified "significant progress" and urged the two presidents to "finalize the Basic Principles" as "a way for all sides to move beyond the unacceptable status quo."

The peace process appears nonetheless to have lost momentum as of 2010. Aliyev and Sarkisian met three times in 2008 and six times in 2009, but only twice in 2010 and twice in 2011. The precise reasons for that trend remain unclear. In their joint statements released at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2012 and the G8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, in 2013, the presidents of France, Russia, and the United States noted that "rather than trying to find a solution based on mutual interests, the parties have continued to seek one-sided advantage in the negotiation process."

Shortly before the Kazan summit, President Aliyev publicly argued that the way to change the "unacceptable status quo" was for Armenia to withdraw its forces from the Azerbaijani territory they occupy.

Writing in "The Wall Street Journal" in December 2012, veteran Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov similarly argued that "the Armenian military withdrawal must be comprehensive, and it needs to take place now." Neither Aliyev nor Mammadyarov explained what the Armenian side would gain in return for surrendering its sole bargaining chip and withdrawing its forces before all the minutiae of a formal peace settlement had been hammered out.

Armenia's ambassador to the OSCE, Arman Kirakossian, may have been referring to Baku's insistence on an immediate withdrawal from the occupied districts when he recalled last week that the Enniskillen G8 statement stressed that "these elements [meaning the Basic Principles] should be seen as an integrated whole, as any attempt to select some elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution."

Tags: Nagorno-Karabakh

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Armen from: USA
November 22, 2013 21:12
It is clear fromt his story that up to this point Azerbaijan is not seeing the pain on the opposit site. True, would would the Armenian side get if the leave the territories that provide security guarantees for the civil population? History is not forgotten. When Azerbaijan and Armenia, both start seeing each others' pain through the lenses of mutual vision the it will be easier to get a peace deal and explain it to both nations.

But it takes two to tango.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 23, 2013 09:56
At any rate, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closer to signing the basic principles than Ukraine is to signing an Association Agreement with the EU :-)).

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 23, 2013 12:39
80 % of the territory of Armenia is occupied by its primeval neighbours-Cold turkey,georgia,azeri ilhamistan,with 90% of the local armenian population being killed or driven out of their ancestral homelands The world cares only for its cheap petrol so the present conflict will be solved only when the azeri turks run out of petrol right unto the fiery furnace!!!

by: minas
November 23, 2013 22:49
Ilham is waking up from his sweet oil dreams, oil production in Azerbaijan is declining and prices are going down. Furthermore, the US production is up which makes it clear that in the next few years the oil market will be stable. Azerbaijan has wasted millions on lobbying around the world but eventually they realized that time is not on their side. They might be able to buy a few corrupt congressmen in Washington or mayors in Budapest and Mexico City but that will hardly change Armenia's position or shift the international community to their side. Now they are back to the negotiations.
In Response

by: parvenu from: US
November 25, 2013 21:02
Indeed, the oil production is going to fall significantly and very soon. 3 yrs tops. And the Mayor of Budapest decides nothing:) Hungary also decides nothing.
In Response

by: Mamuka
December 03, 2013 13:12
And today there is an article that Azerbaican has announced big price rises for oil and gas.

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Kings Beach, CA
November 24, 2013 17:05
Negorno Gharabagh is gone for ever. I don't want Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents to waste my time and their time. Instead, they should focus on feeding the hungry in Baku and Yerevan.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
November 27, 2013 05:41
Unfortunately conflicts in the Caucasus have no solutions.
The only option is the emergence of a new Genghis Khan or Stalin....
They ordered everyone to live together and do not open their mouths to whom this land belongs.
Anyone who opened his mouth go to the Kolyma or they close this mouth especially talkative specimens with solder.
With such a fine selection all the people instantly become brothers again
....and everything will be alright...
everyone will live happily on common land, which belongs to nobody.
In Response

by: greg from: virginia
December 05, 2013 19:15
Vakhtang, there is a new genghis khan / stalin on the rise in russia. his name is putin.

by: oracle2013 from: usa
December 04, 2013 19:28
There will be peace between these two ... when the sun burns out and all their monuments and shrines and sacred mountains and lakes and potholes turn into sand.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.