MOSCOW (Armenpress)—“The possibility of entering an expert level for the peace process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict depends on the readiness of the conflicting parties to overcome the key disagreement over the conflict settlement and to reach a framework agreement. Only after that it will be possible to talk about setting an expert group,” said Igor Popov, OSCE Minsk Group Russian Co-Chair. In his words, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed upon resuming the peace process during their meeting in Vienna.
“I hope that constructiveness will prevail. As refers to the investigation of armed incidents, I can say that there is a top-level agreement to implement the works of installing the mechanisms and currently the OSCE experts are engaged in that works. Last week we submitted the elaborations to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministries. We are waiting for the conclusions of the sides,” the Russian Co-chair said.
Referring to the issue of deploying peace-keeping forces on the contact line, Popov mentioned that the issue can be included in the agenda for practical steps after the main agreements over the settlement are reached.
“Deployment of peacekeepers must come after a respective resolution of the United Nations Security Council, as defined by the OSCE Budapest summit. The peacekeeping contingent will be selected from states based on the consent of the conflicting sides,” Popov said.
While the Minsk Group is focused on peacekeeping between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Popov said “The possibility for Nagorno-Karabakh to participate in the negotiation process will be considered at some point of the settlement process, for example, after reaching a framework agreement.”
“Indeed, in this stage Karabakh is not formally a negotiation party. But this issue is under constant focus of Co-chairs when they meet in Armenia, Azerbaijan or Nagorno-Karabakh. I think at some stage of the talks, for example after reaching a framework agreement, the possibility for Nagorno-Karabakh to participate in the negotiation process will be considered,” he said.
Referring to the issue of increasing the number of OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, Popov stated that from time to time, the issue appears in the focus of media and is pushed forward by the public. “However, neither during the negotiations of the ‘trio’ with the parties, nor during interactions with other mediators, there have been no proposals for an initiative to increase the number of the Co-chairs. The settlement agreement does not depend on the number of Co-chairs but only the readiness of the parties to make compromises,” the Russian Co-chair announced.