Staunton, August 20 – The Kavkaz Uzel news agency has surveyed the opinion of experts in Yerevan and Baku about a possible future role for the OSCE Minsk Group in talks between them. Those they spoke with showed just how far apart the two countries are and why no serious opening for that grouping is likely anytime soon.
On the one hand, Armenian analysts said that Yerevan likes the fact that the Minsk Group continues to insist that the question of status for Qarabagh must be addressed but does not want to push hard for the return of the grouping to the negotiating process lest it offend Moscow (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/367241/).
On the other hand, Baku is prepared for the Minsk Group to play a role in negotiations but only if it recognizes the new realities on the ground and accepts that a precondition for its participation is that it will seek to promote a peace treaty based on the mutual recognition of the territorial integrity of both countries, something Armenia isn’t ready to do.
Any new involvement of the Minsk Group would inevitably set up a competition with the trilateral approach Russia has brokered and led and that is currently opening the way for discussions about the delimitation of some if not all of the border between the two and the unblocking of transportation corridors.
Neither capital wants to jeopardize those talks even if as in the case of Yerevan they see advantages in the traditional OSCE Minsk Group focus on the issue of status for Qarabagh. Consequently, even those in the Armenian capital who would like to involve Minsk are reluctant to push forward.
Rasim Musabekov, a Milli Mejlis deputy and political scientist, says that Baku won’t refuse to cooperate with the Minsk Group but that the Minsk Group must recognize the new realities on the ground and start with an insistence that Armenia recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Unless that happens, there can be no role for the grouping.
Baku is not going to discuss issues about the status of Armenians in Azerbaijan until that happens. But there is a way forward if Yerevan will take it, he suggests. If Yerevan recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and signs a peace agreement, then talks are possible like those between Azerbaijan and Georgia on the status of Azeris in Georgia and Georgians in Azerbaijan.