Warlick Presents US Position on Karabakh Conflict

Ambassador James Warlick addresses a gathering of Armenian community leaders last week in Glendale, organized by the ANCA-WR

WASHINGTON–In a speech delivered at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday morning, US Co-Chairman of the OSCE MInsk Group outlined the United States’ position on the Nagonor-Karabakh conflict on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the cease-fire agreement, which was signed between Karabakh and Azerbaijan on May 12, 1992, with Armenia as a observer.

While the “Warlick Plan” offers little new insight on the IUS’ position on Karabakh peace, the framework it presents is neither morally acceptable nor practically sustainable. He outlined the often stated need to follow United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Principles as a basis for a final agreement, and reiterated the need for the return of “occupied territories”–the liberated areas that the people of Artsakh democratically voted to encompass as the boundaries of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

“There should be a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. It must be wide enough to provide secure passage, but it cannot encompass the whole of Lachin district,” said Warlick, in what can be deemed as one of the egregious aspects of the new US position on Karabakh.

“While we do welcome the renewed focus on the centrality of status, at a fundamental level, this plan falls far short of our American ideal of democratic self-determination, the enduring principle upon which our nation was founded and through which more than one hundred new countries have emerged over the past half century,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America,

“Using the profoundly incendiary and patently inaccurate language of “occupation,” this proposed framework again effectively calls upon Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia – the victims of Baku’s war of aggression – to make up-front, strategic security concessions in return for entirely undefined and easily reversible promises by an increasingly belligerent Azerbaijani government,” added Hamparian.

“We remain hopeful in the overall prospects for an OSCE-brokered peace, are disappointed by the status and security asymmetry in this particular proposal, and look forward to engaging, as meaningful stakeholders, in a more balanced, inclusive and democratic framework for the future of the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. Over-riding Baku’s veto on Nagorno Karabakh’s full and direct participation in all peace talks should, of course, be the first item on the OSCE’s agenda,” concluded Hamparian.

Below is the text of Warlick’s statement:

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you for joining me this morning. I recognize a number of you who have served as counsel or sounding-board for me over the past eight months and I want to extend a special thanks to you.

Let me start by saying that I do not want to revisit the history of the conflict. Our goal should be to find a pragmatic way forward to bring about a lasting settlement.

Although I speak to you today as the U.S. co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, I do not speak for the co-chairs. My message to you is a statement of official U.S. government policy that guides our engagement as we help the parties find peace.

And peace is within reach. The sides have come to a point where their positions on the way forward are not that far apart. They have almost reached agreement on several occasions – most recently in 2011. And when they inevitably returned to the negotiating table after each failed round, the building blocks of the next “big idea” were similar to the last time.

There is a body of principles, understandings, and documents already on the table that lay out a deal, and no one has suggested we abandon them. The challenge is to find a way to help the sides take that last, bold step forward to bridge their remaining differences and deliver the peace and stability that their populations deserve.

For two decades, however, peace has been elusive. All parties distrust each other and a generation of young people has grown up in Armenia and Azerbaijan with no first-hand experience of each other. As many have noted, older generations remember a time when Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived side-by-side and differences did not need to be resolved through the barrel of a gun.

As Churchill once reminded us, “you negotiate peace with your enemies, not with your friends.” The key to any successful negotiation is for all parties to conclude that they have won something, and in the case of the Armenians and Azerbaijanis there is no question that a deal will unlock a new era of prosperity across the region. The benefits of peace far outweigh the costs of continued stalemate, and avoid the catastrophic consequences of renewed hostilities.

Armenia would immediately benefit from open borders, greater security, and new opportunities to trade, travel, and engage with all its neighbors.

Azerbaijan would eliminate a key impediment to its growth as a player on the world stage, regional trade hub, and strong security partner, while giving hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons a prospect for reconciliation and return.

The thousands of people living in Nagorno-Karabakh would be freed from the prison of isolation and dependence.

A peace agreement, properly designed and implemented, would also eliminate the tragic, steady stream of casualties – both military and civilian – along the border and the Line of Contact. Numbers are hard to pin down, but there have already been at least a dozen killed and even more injured on the front lines this year so far. This is unacceptable.

No less significant is the huge financial burden that military readiness and a growing arms race imposes on national budgets – a peace dividend that, used more productively, could itself be a game changer for both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Next week will mark 20 years since a ceasefire agreement was signed. While we can take some pride in having avoided a return to outright war, we must also agree that the current state of affairs is unacceptable, and unsustainable.

Perpetual negotiations, periodic outbreaks of violence, the isolation of Armenia and the people living in Nagorno-Karabakh, frustration in Azerbaijan and anger among its populations of IDPs – this is not a recipe for peace or stability and it is certainly not the path to prosperity.

The people of the region deserve better.


I began this job last September with a trip to the region, with visits to Baku and Yerevan to meet the two presidents and their foreign ministers. I also made a side trip to Nagorno-Karabakh to join Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk’s team for an OSCE monitoring mission along the Line of Contact on the road between Agdam and Gindarkh.

I joined the team on the west side of the Line of Contact, and got my first glimpse of the front lines. I saw the bleak reality faced by young soldiers on both sides of this Line, who live and work behind trenches and berms, with nothing but barbed wire and land mines keeping them apart.

The sides live under threat from sniper fire and landmines. They are concerned for the lives of their civilian populations and their access to farmland, cemeteries, and buildings that happen to fall “too close” to the Line of Contact or the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

OSCE monitors have been working for two decades to keep an eye on this fragile peace, but have neither the mandate nor the resources to put a stop to the frequent casualties, or even to identify responsibility.

The sides themselves report thousands of ceasefire violations every year, but have been unable to reach agreement on any means of reducing that tally.

I have also traveled throughout Nagorno-Karabakh itself, where I have met with the de facto authorities to hear their views. I plan to do so again next week with the other co-chairs. There is no question that any enduring peace agreement must reflect the views of all affected parties if it is to succeed.

In the capitals, I have heard a more reassuring message. Both presidents want to make progress. Both agree that the series of documents negotiated over the past several years contains the outlines of a deal.

The co-chairs hosted the presidents in Vienna last November. This was their first meeting since January 2012 – and the first time since 2009 for them to meet one-on-one. We were encouraged by their conversation, and by their stated commitment to find a way forward. Since that time, we have met on ten separate occasions with one or both foreign ministers to keep the discussion alive.

It is clear, however, that only the presidents have the ability to conclude a deal with such transformative consequences for their countries. It is the presidents who must take the bold steps needed to make peace. The United States has pressed both leaders to meet again soon and take advantage of this window of opportunity when peace is possible.


When I made that first trip to Baku and Yerevan last fall, I carried with me President Obama’s endorsement and reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to working for peace as a Minsk Group co-chair and a close partner with both countries. The outlines of a compromise were already well established by that point, and my message was that the time had come for a renewed effort to bring peace to the region.

Let me walk you through the key elements of that “well-established” compromise, all of which have been in the public domain since appearing in joint statements by Presidents Obama, Medvedev, and Sarkozy in L’Aquilain 2009 and Muskoka in 2010. These principles and elements form the basis of U.S. policy toward the Minsk Group and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

At the heart of a deal are the UN Charter and relevant documents and the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act. In particular, we focus on those principles and commitments that pertain to the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

Building on that foundation, there are six elements that will have to be part of any peace agreement if it is to endure. While the sequencing and details of these elements remains the subject of negotiations, they must be seen as an integrated whole. Any attempt to select some elements over others will make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution.

In no particular order, these elements are:

First, in light of Nagorno-Karabakh’s complex history, the sides should commit to determining its final legal status through a mutually agreed and legally binding expression of will in the future. This is not optional. Interim status will be temporary.

Second, the area within the boundaries of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region that is not controlled by Baku should be granted an interim status that, at a minimum, provides guarantees for security and self-governance.

Third, the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh should be returned to Azerbaijani control. There can be no settlement without respect for Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, and the recognition that its sovereignty over these territories must be restored.

Fourth, there should be a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. It must be wide enough to provide secure passage, but it cannot encompass the whole of Lachin district.

Fifth, an enduring settlement will have to recognize the right of all IDPs and refugees to return to their former places of residence.

Sixth and finally, a settlement must include international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation. There is no scenario in which peace can be assured without a well-designed peacekeeping operation that enjoys the confidence of all sides.


The time has come for the sides to commit themselves to peace negotiations, building on the foundation of work done so far. It is not realistic to conclude that occasional meetings are sufficient by themselves to bring about a lasting peace.

When such negotiations commence, the parties should not only reconfirm their commitment to the ceasefire but also undertake much-needed and long-sought security confidence-building measures.

Once we get into such peace negotiations, there is a much broader range of practical issues that we can put on the table to benefit all sides. There are economic and commercial incentives to develop; energy, transportation, and communications links to rebuild; and travel and people-to-people programs that can begin to counter the dangerously one-sided narratives that currently prevail.

The co-chairs of the Minsk Group share a common interest in helping the sides reach a peaceful resolution. We intend to continue working through the Minsk Group as the primary channel for resolving this conflict. Together with France, the United States and Russia share a common commitment to peace and security in Nagorno-Karabakh. The United States stands ready to help in any way we can. I would also call on the diaspora communities in the United States and around the world to speak out for peace and to help bring an end to this conflict.

Of course, it is up to the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan to take the first step. They should consider measures, even unilateral ones, that will demonstrate their stated commitment to making progress, reducing tensions, and improving the atmosphere for negotiations. They should reduce the hostile rhetoric, and prepare their populations for peace, not war.

Track II efforts to build people-to-people contacts between Azerbaijanis and Armenians are no less integral to a lasting settlement. Programs of this kind can help citizens of both countries prepare for peace and find reconciliation with the pain of the past. We expect the sides to support organizations and individuals which are committed to Track II and people-to-people programs.

I hope that you will work with us to make the case for a lasting peace. The co-chairs have the mandate to facilitate negotiations, but we should all be supporting engaged citizens, secular and religious leaders, NGOs, media outlets, and others working toward these goals. A lasting peace must be built not on a piece of paper, but on the trust, confidence, and participation of the people of both countries.

Let’s work together to build the demand for peace. Let’s demand the benefits that a peaceful settlement will bring to people across the region.

Thank you.


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  1. Shahe said:

    The U.S.A. is very good in providing any kind of help for those who leave their native lands and seek refuge elsewhere in general and in their lands in particular. Nagorno Karabagh is a small portion of Karabagh. Karabagh extends further north, the Plains of Karabagh, also east and further south, and covers the totality of the areas between Armenia and Karabagh from the west. Also Nakhichevan is Armenian land, and not Azerbaijani. While Armenians claim Nakhichevan, in addition to the Plains of Karabagh from Azerbaijan, it is nevertheless for time to see whether immorality overcomes the rule of law. Warlick, the spokesperson of the administration, in addition to the administration, who should have respected the rule of law established by the arbitrator Woodrow Wilson then, and who are falsifying and distorting facts, expresses Azerbaijani views to a great extent and indicates its thinly-veiled partiality with the enemy of peace. In this sense immorality overtakes morality as it stands at present. The U.S.A. will have little say in world politics in the future. Even in human values, we witness total disrespect of moral values established by its indeed amazingly great rulers of the past.

  2. bigmoustache said:

    stick it up you a$$ we learned important lessons about the turk were not going to allow a repeat of 1915 on ourselves.
    what about the Armenian IDPs from Azerbaijan, they don’t want to live there again. so that wouldn’t be fair.
    and if it wasn’t for self determination being more important than territorial integrity then the United States would have never existed.

  3. Sokimag said:

    I say all this proposed elements are worthless and unfair for us Armenians. We should keep every single land of Artsakh. There is no compromise. No compromise with a criminal country like Azerbaijan. We keep all for us. Period!

  4. Hovik M said:

    I think the cease-fire agreement date is not correct, should be 1994 not 1992.

  5. Avetis said:

    The political West has been an enemy of Armenians for decades. In recent times, had it not been for the military protection provided by Russia, Armenia would have suffered the fate of Serbia – or worst – a long time ago. Since they cannot bomb Armenia with explosives, they have been using their various levers (including Western funded news organizations, political opposition circles in Armenia and Armenian activists living in the West) to bombard Armenia with poisonous rhetoric via a vicious information war that is specifically designed to demoralize Armenians and drive a wedge between the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia. Anyway, I don’t expect any of this to be understood by most Armenians. Pigs will fly before Armenians politically wake up.

    • Arius said:

      Well said.

      Some Armenians are starting to wake up to the danger of their Western centrism. I am one of them. I was surprised by the large number of Armenians that were very opposed to the Armenian Weekly article that suggested that Armenia needs a ‘color’ revolution.

      Armenia is wise to stay in the Russia orbit. Look how the US allowed Turkey to invade Cyprus and occupy half of it. The US won’t lift a finger if Turkey invades Armenia, like it almost did in the 1990’s except for Russia coming to the defense of Armenia.

      If war between NATO and Russia breaks out over Ukraine we should expect Turkey to invade Armenia.

  6. ED said:

    Mr Ambassador James Warlick welcome to Turkish Bazzar BUT Karabakh is not for sell !!

    First of all , all is non sense and nothing to do with the reality what the US Co-Chairman of the OSCE MInsk Group says!!!

    1- First of all forget the idea regarding so called “peacekeeping operation.”- All countries involved in so called peacekeeping operations. are only and only concerned about there own interests NOTHING ELSE! – As soon as “Jihadists on pay roll off Baku and Ankara” would fire the first shoots on so called “peacekeepers” they will leave the region leaving all behind , which would allow Baku to attack Karabakh having finally the control of security belt! .

    2- “international security guarantees” like the one winch was given to Armenians living for 1000s of years in there historic home land – in West Armenian- !!?- I don-t think Karabakhi Armenians and any of there leaders would like to committee suicide ! Ambassador James Warlick should know this !

    3- International low doesn’t know such a confusing term as ” expression of will in the future”- Armenian diplomacy as well Karanakh should refuse this term at once and for ever– International law knows self-determination of people and nations- nothing else!

    4- If Baku is trustworthy and would like Karabkah let to “go” , in this case there would be no need of so called “self-governance” at all which in reality is nothing but the old propaganda “solution” of officials in Baku – so called “self-governance” being voiced many times by officils in Baku, there is no need to explain it to Armenians with other words! ” Baku could agree to bigger autonomy for Karabakh” is well know bla bla bla, bla , bla

    5- The six point voiced by US Co-Chairman of the OSCE MInsk Group is NOTHING but returning to the situation in 1980s or 1990 with a small difference this would be a temporary road linking Stepanakert to Armenia – the rest is a tarp and ” ideas of lie” and different ways to cheat Karsbakh

    6- So , Baku should have no reason any more to “attack” US Co- Chairman! Ambassador James Warlick is explaining what Baku wants and trying to open the path for Baku’s idea of “wide autonomy”- NOTHING ELSE !! Only he has forgotten to mention that Baku and Ankara would like to have a “corridor” to , in order to accomplish there Pan Turan ideas!
    The US Co-Chairman of the OSCE MInsk Group is talking as if he knows nothing about the Karabakh and Armenian history and the fake “international security guarantees: which finally did allow Ottoman Turkey to carry out the Armenian Genocide with the end result which is the total annexation of Armenian territories by Turkey which got first off all the blessing of US, UK , France and many others

    Karabakh is Armenia ! Karabakh was and is not for sell- We are not in Turkish Bazzar , lets bury all anti Armenian plots (including this xix point one ) for ever


  7. seto zoravar said:

    I agree with my brothers , we should keep out lands and plan on taking more in the future , no Armenian land should be given to Azerbeijan or Turkey , if they want war then war it is .

  8. Vindicated Man said:

    Why isn’t it according to Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award?

  9. Masis Babajanian said:

    Let me offer a balanced version:
    1. The Nagorno-Karabakh region be granted immediate independence. There will be no interim status. An interim status is an expression of a desire to perpetuate the conflict. Without such guarantee, the remainder of the discussion is fruitless.
    2. Some of the territory in question will be granted to Azerbaijan. The exact region will be determined at a later date in the future, but not in eternity (if you want us to trust your scenario, then go ahead and trust our scenario). The region of Shahumian will be considered part of the Nagorno-Karabakh territory in order to maintain, as you so cherish, “territorial integrity.”
    3. The entire Berdzor corridor will be part of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in order to maintain long term security in the area.
    4. Points 5 & 6 are fine.
    5. Any demonstration of aggression by either side that has occurred since the ceasefire or will occur would adversely impact the territory that will be given to Azerbaijan.
    6. For the purposes of further discussion, the region of Nagorno-Karabakh will be referred to as Artsakh hereafter.

  10. Mirijan Michael Kochian said:

    The proposed peace approach is very important for government of Armenia and Karabakh to establish working neighborly relationship with Azerbaijan. Primarily and very importantly peace talks must always be there and be continues. Meanwhile what is highly important in US integration in the process is the speedy introduction of vital industrial development in Karabakh. The enhancement of security controls must start with full protection of NATO like it is set up in north Eastern Europe. The Russian military force she’ll equally be present for long term peace and protection of whole Karabakh establishment as independent country. There will be no compromise.

  11. վազգէն said:

    As Churchill once reminded us, “you negotiate peace with your enemies, not with your friends.”
    Churchill also said “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”

  12. Berge Jololian said:

    Coming to you form the same failed policies of the US State Department who brought “peace” and “democracy” in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and most recently the Ukraine.

    The days of the Ottoman Sultanate or the Soviet Union have long ended. Oppressing and subjugating populations against their will is not in practice any longer.

    Artsakh and Armenia have the right for secure and recognized viable boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

    Warlick should study the Syrian Golan Heights that Israel asserts its right to retain. The Syrian Golan Heights has remained under Israeli control since 1967, first under martial law, and from 1981 under civilian administration.

    Perhaps, Warlick can workout a deal with Turkey on Northern Cyprus.

    Nice try Warlick!

  13. Hagop said:

    This is what the U.S. and the West have to offer. No wonder Sargsyan opted to join the Eurasian Union.

  14. GeorgeMardig said:

    The real world today is that politicians are bought and sold like tomatoes, people with NO roots and love to their past history act like marketers and expect the world to become like them, worst of all key positions holders have NO enough education or have not studied enough the history of the cases that they try to solve.

  15. Areg said:

    Warlick and his likes have proven over and over again that they have nothing to say in Armenia and or our beloved Artsakh(Karabagh).
    Congratulations Warlick on your way out of Minsk Group.Now you can seek a new job at Turkish or Azerbajiani lobby groups and with a much larger salary than you were currently getting.
    I can not understand how these goof ball public servants end up representing U.S.A. in the world politics. What a shame.
    By the way Warlick on your out please do not even look back. The Armenians will not be missing you. Good luck.

  16. Garo Yeghichian said:

    On 30/03/2014 Mr. John Kerry of USA said no decisions about Ukrain without Ukraine.Mr. Warlick how you can propose to make decisions on Karabakh conflict wethout Karabakh?

  17. Ara Missakian said:

    I am truly disgusted with our State Department. Despite the continuous aggressive action by Baku at points of contact;and Elham Alyev’s constant war mongering and hatred towards Armenians;and the pogroms I nBaku and Sumgait, and for our state dep’ment to come out with this revised policy,is most
    shameful. Let’s find out who are those individuals supporting this policy and then we can trash them out

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