YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—“The four-day war showed again how fragile the situation is. It made us aware that military conflict in this region can have unpredictable consequences,” said the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Piotr Switalski.
“The war showed that there is no military solution to the conflict. Therefore, we should work together strongly for peace. I think it’s the lesson from the four-day war. Let’s work together not only with the countries directly involved, but also the international community towards peace,” he said.
According to him, the summit in Vienna on May 16 brought a new positive dynamics into the efforts to find a settlement. “We can only hope that the agreements reached between the parties will be followed by a proper diplomatic and political action. Let’s approach it as a big chance for peace. If we miss this opportunity, we might face very bad consequences,” Switalski said.
When asked if the OSCE Minsk Group statements would be more effective if addressed to Azerbaijan, the side instigating the attacks, Switalski said “I think that one of the basic principles applied by the mediators like the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group is the non-prejudicial approach. They will always avoid statements and messages that may complicate the efforts to achieve peace.”
“The international community will always be concentrated on how to achieve peace. At this juncture the most important is to ensure the best conditions for the implementation of conclusions from Vienna – to enlarge the team of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, discuss confidence-building measures, and elements of the investigative mechanism,” the Ambassador said.
“If things go well, we can have a high-level meeting in June, and hopefully the start of new peace negotiations,” he said. The Ambassador added that the European Union will do its best to support the diplomatic activities of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
He said the purpose of the investigative mechanism is to see clearly what is happening at the line of contact and that it will develop a clear view on who is responsible for what. “From my personal perspective I would see the investigative mechanism as a preventive or deterring measure. I believe that with the introduction of the investigative mechanism we would be able to reduce significantly the number of incidents occurring on the line of contact. And this would stabilize the situation, which, I think, is the most important thing with a view of the peace settlement.”
Regarding the probability that Aliyev will agree to the implementation of the measures, Switalski said “I think that the conclusions reached in Vienna on these measures, including the investigative mechanism, show that there is a positive dynamics in the discussions. It is clear that if we want to make progress, if we want to reach a settlement, the positions of the sides should become more flexible. And the Vienna summit sent a clear signal to the international public opinion that the sides are willing to consider making their positions more flexible. Of course, it is understandable that there is a big confidence gap between the sides. I’m often asked here in Armenia how we can trust them. But the whole purpose of these diplomatic effort are targeted at helping overcome this mistrust.”
“Although we, as the European Union, are not participating in the mediation efforts, we are ready to contribute to the confidence-building process,” he added. The Ambassador also said he cannot downplay the risk of destabilization, but is very concerned about the possibility; and at the same time should be an incentive to mobilize all involved parties to work for peace.
Switalski said that the issue of changing the OSCE Minsk Group format is not on the agenda. “After the four-day war we have clear signals that both parties confirmed the validity of the Minsk Group format. For the first time in many years the Minsk Group in its full composition adopted a statement in Vienna,” adding that the current processes are also taking place under the full authority of the Minsk Group. Therefore, he said, now is not the time to discuss the format, because the existing format is working very well.
“It should be clear to all of us that the success of Europe, the success of the European integration, the prosperity, the freedom, and the open borders are based on a very difficult, but simple notion of ‘reconciliation.’ There should be no doubt that the European Union condemns the use of force, atrocities, inhuman behavior. It is clear that propagating hate speech, propagating hatred towards other nations is not compatible with European ideals. Europe for ages has been the stage for terrible wars and atrocities. Many states consider themselves to be eternal enemies. But the EU was a project that was built on breaking out of this vicious circle of hatred, revenge. The European success was built on the assumption that we cannot change our neighbors. What we can choose is the way we live with them. Therefore, after the worst of all wars, where millions of Europeans were killed, Europeans decided to extend the hand, to forgive and to ask for forgiveness,” the Ambassador said.
“I’m convinced that Armenians are ready for this. Armenians have gone through terrible sufferings throughout history. There are probably very few other nations that have suffered so much in history. I’m also a representative of a nation that has suffered a lot. Many of my very close relatives were killed during the Second World War. But I belong to the generation that believes we cannot continue like this. I think that when we have peace in the region, a peaceful settlement, Armenians will follow this European logic, Armenians will follow the European ideals, because this approach is a sign of moral strength, a sign of self-confidence. So, I hope that we as the European Union will work with Armenia and Azerbaijan to open a new page in the history of the region,” the Ambassador concluded.