West Tries To Seize Initiative

Vardan Grigoryan

Azat Artsakh Daily
05 Dec 08
Republic of Nagorno Karabakh [NKR]

Having begun in Helsinki yesterday, the Council Session of the Foreign
Ministers of the OSCE member states turned into the successive
discussion devoted to the implementation of the strategy program
aimed at speeding up the efforts towards achieving the settlement of
the Karabakh peace talks.

Following the Russian-Georgian war and the presidential elections
in Azerbaijan, the OSCE has sharply increased its activeness, with
the aim of making 2009 a year dedicated to the settlement of the
Karabakh conflict.

The optimistic statements made by Finnish Foreign Minister and OSCE
Chairman-in-Office Alexander Stroub testify to the fact the OSCE is
preparing to undertake the initiative of speeding up the settlement
process by filling the obscure clauses of the Moscow Declaration with
concrete and clear contents.

Whereas the Moscow Declaration reflects Russia’s political concerns
over extending its influence in the region.

Judging by all, in the global maneuvers around the South Caucasus, the
West has already chosen the tactics of gradually extorting concessions
from Moscow by way of using economic pressures against it and resuming
the Russia-NATO dialogue. And this is first of all evidenced by the
undisguised attempts of keeping Moldova off the mutual concessions
elaborated by Russia, speeding up the process of signing a framework
agreement on the Madrid Principles and at the same time delaying
the solution of the issue of deploying peace-keeping forces on the
borders of Karabakh.

In the meantime, on December 3, the European Union officially
introduced to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and
Ukraine the European Committee’s proposal on "Eastern Partnership". The
document envisages economic cooperation, without considering the
issue of the EU membership.

Thus, on the eve of the session of the Ministers of the OSCE member
states, the activeness of the West and the obvious cautiousness of
Russia again became apparent. This time, however, the "peculiarity
of the moment" was that unlike the proposals submitted in 2000-2001
(during the Key West discussions, the previous stage of the Karabakh
settlement process), the Madrid Principles had been discussed so
much that the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will not have any
difficulty inventing some resolution envisaging mutual concessions.

A question arises as to whether this means that the conflict
is really close to its settlement and whether such settlement
is really inevitable. We believe not, because the existing
international-political consensus over the principles discussed does
not mean consensus over the possibility of conflict settlement. It
is at this point that the mutual cooperation tactics of the
mediators comes to be replaced by the cl ear-cut and undisguised
strategic confrontation. One of its manifestations is the process of
strengthening the CIS Collective Security Treaty and changing it into
a peace-keeping structure

This means that Russia is not going entrust anyone with the task
of carrying out a peace-keeping mission on the borders of Karabakh,
and upon necessity, it is ready to give clear-cut security guarantees
to Armenia, one of the state parties to the CIS Collective Security
Treaty. This also means that Azerbaijan relies on delays and the
prospect of getting rid of Moscow with the help of the Western
pressures and Turkish interventions.

In such conditions, it is becoming clear why the European human rights
defenders have again recalled the issue of the investigation of the
March 1-2 incidents. And it is also becoming clear why the Russian
experts express pessimism over the prospect of settling the Karabakh
conflict in the nearest future.

And after all, it is becoming clear why A. Stoub’s prediction on
the probability of signing a declaration on the Karabakh issue in
Helsinki was replaced by the ready-made and uncertain statements of
the Russian and French foreign Ministers and the US Deputy Secretary
of State. The only important clause of the document is the appeal to
the parties for ruling out the possibility of the military settlement
of the Karabakh conflict and "reiterating their willingness to achieve
the settlement o f the conflict through peaceful methods".

As seen from the Foreign Ministers’ successive appeal addressed to
the conflicting parties on December the 4th, the Co-Chairs have no
intention to take joint responsibility for the implementation of the
Madrid Principles.

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