BAKU: Matthew Bryza: All The Basic Principles, In Fact All Of Them,


Aug 5 2009

Washington. Zaur Hasanov – APA. American co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group
Matthew Bryza’s interview to APA’s US Bureau

– How fundamental are changes to the Madrid Principles which you,
co-Chairs of Minsk Group have made in Krakow, Poland? Are there
any new elements in the future status of NK, force withdrawal from
occupied areas, international peacekeeping mission, etc?

– We didn’t make any fundamental changes. What we did was to listen
very carefully in the course of all the time that has passed since
November 2007, when we presented the Madrid Document. We assessed what
each president has been saying, what their needs are in negotiations
,and we came up with our best suggestions for how to bridge the
differences that remain between the Presidents as a result of all
those negotiations, which have actually brought them quite close. So
these are not fundamental changes, they are not just cosmetic changes
either. They’re an attempt again to resolve the differences that remain
after now 13 months of intensive negotiations between Presidents
Aliyev and Sarkisyan. I won’t go into the specific issues in which
we made our updates, but what you just mentioned, those are the key
elements of the framework that outlined by the Basic Principles. So,
obviously, anything we do, any update could touch any of these core
elements of the Basic Principles but I’d rather not go into the
specifics of which ones.

– Why do you think, after G8 summit in Italy, the White House’s Press
Office released information with the basic points of NK settlement,
which was done for a first time by any Co-Chair country?

– I don’t think that there is any sense speculating why they did
it. The point is that Presidents of the United States, France and
Russia have publicly announced that they themselves support the Basic
Principles that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs have been able to help the
Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia negotiate. That’s the point;
that our Presidents personally are engaged and support the efforts
of the Minsk Group and asked us, the Co-Chairs to do just what we
did in Krakow, right, which is to update the proposal that we have
submitted in Madrid, based very respectfully on the conclusions and
views of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

– Throughout your professional career you have been dealing with
Nagorno-Karabakh issue, do you remember such high level involvement
from the top leadership of Co-Chair countries in an attempt to solve
the conflict?

– I don’t remember that. I am very proud we have been able to secure
that high level of involvement. I do think it’s going to have a big
impact in helping us move things forward. I think the Presidents are
showing that level of engagement because they see that we are doing
our work and we are doing it well. I mean we, all the parties of
the Minsk Group, are making significant progress. As Azerbaijani TV
announced today, the Basic Principles provide a fair outline for a
settlement. So, there’s been a lot of movement and we have entered
a new phase in the Minsk Group process which means getting close
to finalizing the Basic Principles. That, what I just said, is the
significance of the Presidents’ statement: they’re personally involved,
they see we’re getting close to finalizing the Basic Principles and
they want to encourage the parties to carry out the rest of the work
and get to that end point..

– At this moment, is there any sense to add the Azeri and Armenian
communities of NK to the formal negotiations?

– There can’t be a settlement that will be lasting unless all of the
views of all of the concerned parties are taken into account. So,
obviously, the views of Karabakhi Armenians and Azerbaijanis need to
be reflected in whatever is finally agreed, or the agreement won’t
succeed. So that has to happen. Now it happens now in an informal way,
already, when the co-chairs spend so much time consulting Karabkahi
Armenians in Karabakh. I look forward to renewing my consultations
with the Karabakhi Azerbaijani community when I am next in Baku. And
the question of formal participation at the negotiating table is
one that has to be agreed between by both Baku and Yerevan. People
should remember than until 1998, the Karabakhi Armenians were at the
negotiating table but the former Government of Armenia decided that
it would negotiate on behalf of the Karabakhi Armenians. So that was
the decision Armenia took, and to change that decision there must
be mutual agreement by both Baku and Yerevan. So I hope that will
happen in a relatively short time. I can’t predict when, but for now,
what we have to do is wrap up the Basic Principles but to make sure
that we do so in a way that reflects the views of Karabakh’s current
and former residents.

– In Armenia, the criticism of the government is mounting. The
opposition is accusing the government on "unilateral concessions"
to Azerbaijan. Did you witness something like that in the sequence
of Presidents’ meetings?

– The quality of the discussion ensued in Moscow was better than any
I have experienced to date. The Presidents were detailed and candid
with each other, and I’d even say constructive. They are really
looking for ways to bridge their differences, but that doesn’t mean
that they’re being soft. The criticism, particularly in Armenia, that
President Sarkisian or Foreign Minister Nalbandian are somehow making
unilateral concessions, is ridiculous. I think that probably president
Aliyev would love it if there were such unilateral concessions. But
that’s not how real negotiations works in real life. These are real
negotiations that again have entered a new phase in terms of their
intensity and level of give and take. But if you are going to give
in negotiations you expect to take something in return. So this is
give and take – there are no unilateral concessions.

– Could you give us a percentage estimate on how many points of the
Basic Principles are parties agreed and what is left?

– I can’t convey that sort of assessment, and that’s not where we
are anyway. What I can say is, number one, nothing is agreed until
everything is agreed. So I can’t say what percentage has been agreed,
because the way it works is like this: I want A ;and to get A, you
want B from me. If I give you B, well you’re going to want C. If I
give you C, well then I want something else out of A. So you know,
you negotiate a way forward. But then you have to go back sometimes
to reconsider which was already partially agreed before. So, all
the issues are interacting, they’re all interrelated… Therefore,
sometimes you have to move centimeter by centimeter, and that’s what
we have tried to do through our work in Krakow. [approximate]

So, to put it a different way, the Basic Principles, which provide
the framework for a peace agreement, as reflected in the fact sheet
issued with the joint statement by our Presidents, our co-chair
presidents, I think, is more or less accepted by both President Aliyev
and Sargsian. This is an outline that they more or less accept.. But
to say that we absolutely agree, we will need to keep on going back
and filling in the details of one issue, and then going back to fill
in the details of another issue. But all the Basic Principles, just
about all of them, in fact all of them, are agreed in a fundamental
way. But the details require still some work.

– On Turkey-Armenian rapprochement, you have said many times that
those two separate process and they have to move parallel. But as it
seems it doesn’t work in this way.

– It is not for me to answer why, Turkey is not moving forward or why
Armenia is not. There was a "Road Map" with a timetable and a general
sense of when steps need to take place. All I can say is that it’s
the policy of the U.S. Government to say we hope that that timetable
will resume and the parties will begin moving forward again on the
basis of that timetable even though some of the specific dates have
already passed.

And we think that this sort of development will end up being very good
for everybody in the region: for Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and for
Georgia as well. But it wouldn’t be useful for me to speculate why
Turkey and Armenia haven’t moved further ahead because the U.S. is
not a party to this agreement.

But I have talked about how these are separate processes. They are. And
As one moves forward, we believe that the other process will then
exist in a climate where the mood is better, where tension is lower;
and that process can then also move forward.

– Another speculation is your expected nomination as an Ambassador
to Azerbaijan. Many in Azerbaijan will be glad to see you in this

– Well first of all, thank you so much for that very nice statement
saying that people in Azerbaijan would like what you said. That really
makes me feel good. I don’t know what exactly is going to be next for
me. That really depends on our Secretary of State and the President. I
will have a new assignment soon. And, as I’ve said before, I very much
hope it will keep me connected to the South Caucasus. But I can’t
really comment on what is going to be. It’s not my decision. I just
have to be patient. And I am not done yet with the Minsk Group. I plan
to come to the region on behalf of all three Co-Chairs, by myself,
in about a week and a half or so and try to pick up on our success
in Krakow in coming up with the updated ideas of the Madrid Document,
which we hope will lay the foundation for an agreement soon.