Co-Chairmen Voice Objections to Karabakh Flights

OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmen meet with Artsakh President Bako Sahakian in Stepanakert late last week

STEPANAKERT, YEREVAN, BAKU (RFE/RL)—International mediators voiced misgivings about the planned launch of commercial flights from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday as they visited Stepanakert at the start of a new round of regional shuttle diplomacy.

“We think that the launch of the [Stepanakert] airport in the existing situation can cause tension in relations between the parties,” said Igor Popov, a Russian diplomat co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group along with fellow envoys from the United States and France.

“At the same time we think that the issue should be settled through diplomatic means based on the existing [international] experience,” Popov told journalists after the co-chairs held talks with Bako Sahakian, the president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly condemned the plans by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s leadership to reopen the newly reconstructed Stepanakert airport for flights to Yerevan, saying that they would violate its internationally recognized sovereignty over Karabakh. Earlier this month, Baku renewed its threats to forcibly halt those flights.

The authorities in Stepanakert and Yerevan brushed aside the threats, warning of retaliatory military action.

The U.S. responded by urging both sides on November 2 to seek a “diplomatic solution” to the potentially dangerous row “in keeping with the relevant international agreements.” A State Department spokeswoman also cited statements on the issue that were made by the Minsk Group co-chairs earlier this year.

In one such statement issued in July, the mediators said they “received renewed assurances from the sides that they will reject any threat or use of force against civil aircraft, pursue the matter through diplomatic steps, and refrain from politicizing the issue.”

The mediating troika began its latest tour of the Karabakh conflict zone nearly one month after hosting renewed negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers. The ministers met in Paris for the first time since an international scandal sparked by the release from prison of an Azerbaijani army officer who hacked to death an Armenian colleague in Hungary.

The co-chairs said after the Paris talks that they presented the sides with an unspecified “working proposal to advance the peace process.” “The Ministers and the Co-Chairs agreed to a further discussion of these ideas during the Co-Chairs’ visit to the region in November,” they said in a statement.

Popov and his U.S. counterpart, Robert Bradtke, refused to divulge any details of that proposal after the Stepanakert talks. Bradtke said only that Washington remains “strongly committed to doing what it can to assist in the peace process.”

Sahakian was quoted by his press office as telling the mediators that the conflict can be resolved only if they focus on its “causes, rather than consequences.” “Any attempt to return to the past would be doomed to fail,” he said.

The mediators did not shed more light on the uncertain future of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process on Friday after meeting with Armenian leaders in Yerevan on the second leg of their latest tour of the region.

The three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group held separate talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian the day after their visit to Stepanakert.

Bradtke told reporters that they had “a lot to discuss” with Sarkisian and Nalbandian. In particular, he said, they spoke about new “ideas” which the mediators presented to Nalbandian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov at their most recent meeting held in Paris late last month. Bradtke again declined to elaborate on those proposals that are meant to kick-start the frozen peace process.

“Let’s wait and see how events develop,” Popov said for his part.

Sarkisian’s press office gave no details of the talks. It said only that they focused on “issues relating to the current stage of the negotiating process and further steps.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry, for its part, said Nalbandian complained to Bradtke, Russia’s Igor Popov and France’s Jacques Faure about continuing “provocative statements” made by Azerbaijani leaders. “As much as they are intended for internal use, they cause serious damage to the negotiating process and escalate the situation in the region,” he was cited as saying.

Nalbandian appeared to refer to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s November 16 speech in which he branded Armenia a “colony” created on “ancient Azerbaijani lands” and run from abroad. “We will continue our efforts to isolate Armenia,” Aliyev said.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement, the co-chairs also discussed the possibility of arranging another meeting between Nalbandian and Mammadyarov on the sidelines of an OSCE ministerial conference which is due to take place in Dublin next month.

Popov indicated that the mediators will not seek to organize fresh meetings between Aliyev and Sarkisian in the months ahead. “Negotiations are currently taking place at the level of the foreign ministers,” he said. “I think that process will continue at the ministerial level at least in the coming months.”

The mediators ended their fresh tour of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in Baku on Monday with no indication of any progress towards an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord.

The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group met with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov after similar talks held in Stepanakert and Yerevan late last week. Official Azerbaijani sources reported no details of those meetings.

In an ensuing joint statement on their latest round of shuttle diplomacy, Bradtke, Popov and Faure said, “The Co-Chairs reviewed with Presidents Sarkisian and Aliyev the results of the separate meetings they held with Foreign Ministers [Edward] Nalbandian and Mammadyarov in August and September, and discussed the ideas on the continuation of the peace process that they had presented to the Ministers in their joint meeting on October 27.”

“The sides agreed to carry out further work on the level of the Foreign Ministers,” added the statement.

Faure told the Azerbaijani APA news agency that the two foreign ministers could meet on the sidelines of an OSCE ministerial conference in Dublin next week or elsewhere “at the beginning of next year.” “The bottom line is that the ministers are ready to continue working on the conflict’s peaceful resolution,” said the French diplomat.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the co-chairs discussed the possibility of a Mammadyarov-Nalbandian meeting in the Irish capital when they met with the Armenian foreign minister in Yerevan on Friday. Popov indicated after that meeting that they will not seek to organize fresh meetings between Aliyev and Sarkisian in the months ahead.


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  1. GB said:

    It is high time for Armenia to recognize the independence of Artsakh. Mr. Sargsyan should take the first direct flight from Yerevan to Stepanakert Airport!!

    • Vahan Vanagan said:

      To GB,

      No, before Sargsyan, I would like to take the first official flight Yerevan-Stepanakert.
      We wait that the fligt tickets are available.

      Sargsyan will watch for our safety.

      Vahan Vanagan

  2. Tsayt said:

    What’s the “political” language to tell these stooges to go an f@%$ themselves.

  3. basil said:

    Sure, not letting Azeris make Artsakh a second Gaza might cause tensions – because obviously
    – Azeri government induced dreams of “reconquering Yerevan” or
    – nazi-like war propaganda already taught to 15 year old snipers or
    – massive military spending and war mongering or
    – billions of dollars coming from petrol not being spent on refugees to keep the tension high or
    – or threats of shooting down civil aircraft or
    – nobody with an Armenian name being allowed in today´s Azerbaijan or
    – the destruction of cultural heritage in Nachichevan or
    – attempts of selling the Khojaly lie or
    – genocide denial or
    – making a hero out of an fascist axe murderer or
    – the Azeri sheeple being OK with all of this or or or…
    … did not already kill any hopes of negotiations.

    Go and fuck yourself, OSCE.

    • GB said:

      OSCE worry about the pipe line and they don’t give SH@@ about “tatars rights”. OSCE knows one small mistake by Sultan, the entire pipe line will be disappeared in a matter of a few minutes, and their billions will be gone with the wind!!. I won’t be surprised that even under table Russia play a secret deal with OSCE temporarily to see the political outcome of their own oil shipments to European market, especially to Germany!! It is totally Armenian diplomacy should start to work, in order to play a right card with OSCE new game!! This is why Armenia must ratify the recognition of Artsakh in Armenian Parliament, where Raffi Hovanisian suggested 2 years ago and it was turned down!!!! It is time for Armenia to put pressure back to OSCE and their oily cartel supporters!!

  4. M.S.K. said:

    Because of Azri’s petrol – the cochairmen are selling our fatherland to people that nobody knows where from they came and occupied our land. It seems to me there is no justices in this world. Long live Armenia and Karabakh – Hell with Azerbaijanis.

  5. Ray said:

    Open the airport for God sake who cares what Azerbaijan thinks! Sell your oil and shut your mouth!

  6. AAB said:

    I think it is the time to play dirty, because they play dirty. Dirty languages should be responded by the same level. Therefore; let the Armenian politicians take the flight to Artzakh and simultaneously recognize the independence of Artzakh. Do they have the guts? Do they have still the slavery complex? let us see but remember Barouyr sevag’s words ” Khentern en kdnoum henark.”

  7. George said:

    Patience is a virtue, learn from the chinese, slowly but surely, sooner or later the mediators will get fed up and their support in an venture is essential for a successful outcome

  8. Heghapokhagan said:

    Russia has been “Guilty” of withholding archives from during Lenin & Stalin, that will show they have invented a fabricated country called Azerbaijan, that they have stolen Armenia and cut Armenia into pieces and gave Artsakh & Nakhitchevan to so called Azerbaijan.
    Let the Hypocrite Russia show the proof of evidence once and for all, to maim the Satanic nation of Azerbaijan!!!

  9. Heghapokhagan said:

    I should say that Armenian Revolutionary Federation ….. has been Right all along for over a century… which is “Meeyayn Zenkov grnank guerdenl mer Azkin eeravounknere”

  10. Armenian said:

    We think that the launch of the [Stepanakert] airport in the existing situation can cause tension in relations between the parties,” said Igor Popov, a Russian diplomat co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group along with fellow envoys from the United States and France.

  11. Zohrab said:

    I think they are looking after themselves this osce they have their oil gas interest in mind to line their pokets but we have artcakh to make her more flexible and easy to get and back so it’s time we move forward we put our interests first artcakh first

  12. Ararat said:

    These peace talks are becoming redundant and meaningless. I can’t imagine sitting across the negotiating table with a peasant gangster buffoon like Aliyev and talk peace when he publicly calls us all his enemy number one. You don’t appease a gutless bully with peace talks. You stand your ground and punch him in the face.

    When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 so did the illegal Axerbaijani administrative hold on Karabakh. The Armenian territory of Karabakh never was and it can never be part of independent Axerbaijan. We responded to an aggressive war imposed upon us by the Axerbaijan and liberated the disputed territories. We won the war and Axerbaijanis lost the war and now they are crying like a bunch of homos.

    The Armenian victors have no obligation to the Axerbaijani losers. We, as victors, must dictate as we see fit for our nation. The best the Axerbaijanis can do is to bow down in front of us like beggars. We should not only stop the negotiations but we must also begin plans to liberate Nakhichevan. Only they we can talk about territorial integrity.

    It is time to fully militarize the entire region and have missiles in place and ready to destroy Axerbaijani pipelines on which the entire Axerbaijani economy is dependent upon. You take out the Axerbaijani oil pipelines and you have effectively taken out Aliyev’s dynasty and brought the entire Axerbaijani economy to a halt. All they have is oil and nothing more.

    The racist buffoon Aliyev’s tirade is all due to the revenues he amasses from the oil sale. He is nothing more than a gutless gangster who was in hiding during the Karabakh liberation war. He is a nobody, his nation is a fake nation and his state is an artificial state and nothing more than a gas station for the Europeans and the American businessmen to exploit.

    Instead of wasting all resources and energy on empty and senseless peace talks with a pseudo-Turkish Axerbaijani peasant oil sheikh, we must focus on acquiring atomic and nuclear weapons and point them toward Baku and Ankara. Then we will see how tough this draft-dodging and gangster thief can talk. If you want respect from these goat herding Turks and pseudo-Turks you have got to give them a taste of the big guns. That’s the only language they understand.

  13. stepanakertci Mari said:

    Էդ 3-ին + Կասպշիկին պետք ա մի լավ թթի օղի խմեցնել ու առաջարկել մեկնել Երեւան … ինքնաթիռով: Դա էլ առաջին չվերթը կլինի:


    These mediators are they for real?….whenever a critic is due they whitewash stating it’s for internal consumption as for the snipers they demand restrains from both side…why Mr.Nalbantian is not confronrting stateing the group is failing to ADDRESS THE CEASFIRE VIOLATIONS properly ?…
    Armenia is responding not innitiating what if Armenians were violating the ceasfire 2 or 3 hundered times a week…

  15. Avery said:

    the title is misleading: nowhere in your article is there a word about ‘objecting’.
    “International mediators voiced misgivings”: ‘misgiving’ is not a synonym for ‘object’.

  16. Vahan Vanagan said:

    Same answer to the same Minsk Droup:

    The right for Existance:
    The right for exiatance is never offered, you take it. And Artsakh got it with big sacrifice, after centuries of strugle against the invadors.
    Artsakh is independant and does not need recognition of the Turk-Azeri Nomads or any one else. Even, Turk-Azeris settlements in historical Armenia is illegal.
    Artsakh as independant country does not need to negociate and does not make part of Minsk Group.
    Artsakh must go ahead and keep operating the airport.
    Artsakh’s answer to ALiev is clear. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.

    Vahan Vanagan

  17. Stephen T. Dulgarian said:

    Shame on the International mediators for not helping on flights from Yerevan to Artsakh which has been historic Armenian territory for over 3000 years. Doesn’t the world know that the Azeri-Turks along with Turkey invaded those Armenian territories over the past centuries and created Genocide after Genocide of not only Armenians but other Christian people. Also, these International mediators don’t know the history of the area, when Stalin the dictator of the Soviet Union back in 1922 along with dictator Kemal Attaturk of Turkey took away many parcels of Armenian lands away from the Armenian Nation. Those parcels Stalin took away are Artsakh & Nakhicevan to the Azeri’s, the Javakh Provence to the Georgian’s, and Kars & Ardahan to the Turks. When will the world wake up to the numerous tragic deeds of the Turks & their brothers the Azeri-Turks. The Sevres Treaty signed in 1920 by Turkey, Armenia & 16 other nations of which 40,000 square miles was to be reunited with Eastern Armenia. This Treaty of Sevres is still a valid Treaty, since two illegal revolutionary’s took over Armenian Territory. Those illegal revolutionaries are Kemal Attaturk whom took control of the newly instated Turkish Government after the 1st World War & Lenin another revolutionary ousted the Czarist Government & formed an illegal Communistic Regime. These two revolutionaries joined together and took over all Armenian territories and divided them among the Turks & Soviet Regimes. Armenians have no friends in this world to help Christian Armenia.

  18. Arziv said:

    We must not jump the gun. The Popov and his friends , according to the article, expressed misgivings or apprehension, doubts or reservations, but they did not object. Knowing full well the Azeris are as mad as any axe murdering madmen, the prospect of the Azeris attempting to shoot down the planes is a real one. Obviously retaliation would be the next thing on the agenda and before you know it you may have a war. The OSCE might be an incompetent and inept body, their main goal is to prevent conflict and that is what they were expressing with their misgivings. They were not attacking , nor defending Armenian; but they are fully cognizant and aware of Azerbaijans fecklessness , dangerous, unpredictable posturing .

  19. Stephen T. Dulgarian said:

    Artsakh has been an Independent Country for 21 years and has the right to have an Airport. If for any reason the Azeri’s shoot one plane down flying into the Artsakh Airport then Artsakh and the Armenian Air Force will do much damage to the Azeri’s by striking their oil fields and their military strongholds. The United States & numerous countries around the world have never help Armenian’s but seem to help Turkish & Azeri Moslems whom have massacred millions after millions over the centuries. There wil never be peace in that region as long as Turks & Azeri’s keep getting their way.