Karabakh Armenians Key To Peace Deal, Says U.S. Co-Chair

President Serzh Sarkissian greets OSCE Minsk group co-chairs in Yerevan on July 20 (Source: RFE/RL Azatutuyun)
President Serzh Sarkissian greets OSCE Minsk group co-chairs in Yerevan on July 20 (Source: RFE/RL Azatutuyun)

President Serzh Sarkissian greets OSCE Minsk group co-chairs in Yerevan on July 20 (Source: RFE/RL Azatutuyun)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—A “free expression of the will” of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population must be critical in determining the future internationally recognized status of the disputed territory, the OSCE Minsk Group’s U.S. Co-Chair James Warlick said on Monday.

Warlick thus reaffirmed one of the key elements of the Basic Principles of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which have been put forward and repeatedly modified by the United States, Russia and France over the past decade.

“There cannot be a comprehensive settlement without it including a status for Nagorno-Karabakh,” Warlick said just hours before he and fellow diplomats from Russia and France co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group met with Armenian leaders in Yerevan.

“A part of a comprehensive settlement could include status and there will need to be a free expression of the will of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of that comprehensive settlement,” he told reporters.

The Basic Principles envisage a phased solution to the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan which would end in a referendum in Karabakh. Its mostly ethnic Armenian residents would presumably be able to vote for secession from Azerbaijani or return under Baku’s rule.

While claiming to largely accept this peace formula, Armenia and Azerbaijan have yet to agree on dates and other practical modalities of the would-be referendum. They have also disagreed on other significant elements of the proposed peace deal, notably a timetable for Armenian withdrawal from seven districts in Azerbaijan proper surrounding Karabakh.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and that’s what we mean by a comprehensive settlement,” stressed Warlick. “One element of that settlement will need to be the return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.”

“It’s clear that Armenia does not plan to return territory without adequate security guarantees,” he said. Those guarantees include the deployment of multinational peacekeeping troops in the conflict zone, added the U.S. mediator.

Warlick also noted that the mediating troika reckons with the position of “the de facto authorities in Stepanakert.”

“Their voice will need to be heard as part of any comprehensive settlement,” he said.

Warlick and the two other Minsk Group co-chairs, Russia’s Igor Popov and France’s Pierre Andrieu, arrived in Yerevan at the start of their latest round of regional shuttle diplomacy aimed at arranging a fresh meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents later this year. The mediators hope that such a summit will kick-start the stalled peace process.


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  1. Raffi said:

    Armenian may consider withdrawing from seven districts in Azerbaijan proper surrounding Karabakh, in exchange to the return of Nakhichevan

  2. Mkhitar Yepremyan said:

    Boy the same game over and over again! Sorry James Warlick! The answer is again no to you and your alikes.
    The referendum on Artsakh has been already done and it is final. The voice of Artsakh population has been heard long time ago and we do not need your few cents of advise. As to returning any part of our liberated Artsakh holy land to your barbarian and genocidal Azerbaijani and Turkish governments the answer for thousand and thousand times is no. Warlick go and smoke your hukah with your body- body Goble, Kissinger, Brezinski, Oskanian, Bryza and with all the good old guys in your team.
    Artsakh is and has been the lands of Armenians and you and your likes have absolutely no rights to decide the faith of this land. As for stationing your peace keepers on this Holy Land, as you and your a likes are dreaming, the answer is go and station those peacekeepers on your own back yard. Your are not welcomed in our lands and we are not going to serve you the Turkish coffee here because we only serve the Armenian coffee on our lands. The hell with you and Vartan Oskanian.

  3. Stepan said:

    The “surrounding” territories were liberated in order to provide essential security for Artsakh. Another argument is they are part of historical Artsakh with a contiguous and common border with greater Armenia. In either case, what we have learned from Azerbaijan’s behavior the last twenty years is that the heroes of Artsakh were correct in liberating these lands and that the need to retain them has increased. There are no “security guarantees” except for the current geographic alignment or foreign soldiers acting as “peacekeepers”. The peacekeepers should be placed in Azerbaijan to keep that violent and racist regime in line with civil practices. Lost in this Artsakh discussion, are the indiscriminate attacks on the internationally recognized border of Armenia by Azerbaijan in the Tavoush province. Aside from the terror committed, who can trust Azerbaijan to respect any agreement? The solution is before us with a liberated Artsakh.

  4. Onjig said:

    As Raffi said in the first post: Armenian may consider withdrawing from seven districts in Azerbaijan proper surrounding Karabakh, in exchange to the return of Nakhichevan.

    This, the above, could be a good answer. But there are portions of Artsakh that are still occupided by the Azerbaijani Turks.

    One thing so far has been true: The azerbaijani have never acted in a trustworthy manner.
    Stalin gave them some Historical Armenian to the azerbaijani to administer, this was wrong in the first place. Then as the Soviet Union collapsed the azerbaijani began to rape, kill and expel the Armenian population from their ancestral homeland.
    How can the Armenian people trust them?