Nagorno-Karabakh’s involvement in negotiations only way to change Mi

Nagorno-Karabakh’s involvement in negotiations only way to change
Minsk Group format – expert

15:04 * 01.02.15

The only way if changing the Minsk Group format is Nagorno-Karabakh’s
involvement in the negotiations, political scientist Hrant
Melik-Shahnazaryan told

The latest statement by the Minsk Group is clearly accusing
Azerbaijan. The reason is a threat of war because one is objecting to
a war in the region.

Asked whether the Minsk Group’s latest statement be said to have put
an end to the tradition of parity, Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan said:

“The Minsk Group, as mediator, had always tried to equally criticize
both the states. However, the latest statement was obviously accusing
Azerbaijan and demanding that it honor its commitments. The
commitments have repeatedly been stated and it is common knowledge. As
to the message addressed to Armenia, all the conflicting parties have
always been supposed to take measures to defuse tension. If we compare
the previous statements by the Minsk Group, we should note that the
statement is clearly addressed to Azerbaijan. We should also note the
fact that it was a meeting with the Azerbaijani FM. That is, the
mediators see the opposite side creates problems. And there is no need
for a meeting with Armenia’s FM.”

Since Azerbaijan is ignoring international organizations’ calls and is
even critical of the Minsk Group, can that state be expected to
consider the latest statement?

“I do not hope Azerbaijan will come to senses if we consider the fact
that Azerbaijan has political problems to solve in the region as well,
and escalating helps Azerbaijan to more efficiently deal with the
problems. Azerbaijan has dozens of reasons for such behavior, and I
think they will not miss a chance to escalate tension. Azerbaijan has
a task of correct calculation. They do not want a large-scale war and,
in the contest of international situation and Russia-West
confrontation, they are seeking to escalate tension. It is the
Armenian side’s position, especially the position declared by the
Armenian president, and our military potential and regular
retaliations that play a deterring role.”

Asked about Russia’s position in the context of close Armenian-Russian
relations, Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan said:

“Russia is seeking to get over the situation, maintaining relations
with both Azerbaijan and Armenia. That is, Russia’s position is
similar to that of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, which, of course,
does not mean defused tensions or does not reflect Armenian-Russian
relations as allies. We have to do serious diplomatic work with
Russia. I think Armenia should make more consistent efforts to have
Russia assume a stronger pro-Armenian position.”

As regards the opinions that the approaching Armenian Genocide
centennial accounts for the border tension, and Turkey is inciting
Azerbaijan to divert the international community’s attention, the
expert said:

“I am sure that diverting the international community’s attention from
the Armenian Genocide is the major reason for the tension because the
Armenian Cause as a factor, especially in the Turkey-West relations,
is playing a rather serious deterring role in preventing Turkey from
accomplishing its European integration task and intensifying its
regional activity. Turkey is ready for any steps to neutralize the
Armenian Cause as a political factor. However, neither the West nor
Armenia will ever reject such a tool. Well aware of the fact that the
Armenian Genocide centennial this year could make this factor even
stronger, Turkey and Azerbaijan are trying to divert the international
attention. If we see the frequency of meetings between top-ranking
Turkish and Azerbaijani officials, we can see that the two states have
drafted a clear policy for this year and are jointly implementing it.”

As regard the possibility of changes in the Minsk Group format,
considering Azerbaijan’s criticisms and the latest thesis about
Germany’s claims to replace France as OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing
state, Mr Melik-Shahnazaryan said:

“I rule out any changes in the Minsk Group format because it would
require the Armenian side’s consent as well. The only way if changing
the Minsk Group format is Nagorno-Karabakh’s involvement in the
negotiations. For years, Azerbaijan has consistently been doing its
utmost to put an end to the Minsk Group as such and have the
Nagorno-Karabakh problem discussed in a different format. Azerbaijan’s
aim is clear. They are aware that, beside dealing with the
Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, the Minsk Group is a kind of club
where Russia, the US and the European Union (EU), represented by
France, are coordinating their policy in the region. And as long as
the Minsk Group is working, the presence of any external actor as a
political factor in the South Caucasus is actually ruled out, which
is, of course, against Azerbaijan’s interests because they want to see
Turkey as their powerful ally in the Caucasus.”
With this end in view, Azerbaijan is seeking to have the Minsk Group
dissolved. It failed during previous years, when more favorable
conditions for that were available, nor will it succeed in the future,
the expert said.

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