Bryza Says Minsk Group to Work Hard on Peace Process

BAKU (Armenpress)–In an exclusive interview to the Azeri Trend news agency, the US cochairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza, said he and the two other co-chairs from France and Russia would continue to work relentlessly to bring Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to peace, regardless of the domestic political situation in either country. "We have pointed to upcoming elections in both Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2007 and 2008 as one of the reasons why 2006 provides an ideal window of opportunity for concluding a peace agreement between the two countries," Bryza was quoted by the agency as saying. "There are, of course, many other reasons why embracing a peaceful settlement of the conflict sooner rather than later is desirable, starting with the positive impact such an agreement would have on securing regional stability and promoting opportunities for economic growth across the South Caucasus," he added. The US diplomat did not rule out that the elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan might have an impact on prospects for a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "We hope that impact will be positive and that the population in both countries will let their leaders and candidates for political office know that efforts to move toward peace, stability, and prosperity are welcomed by their publics," he said. Bryza added that the OSCE is the ideal forum from which to continue the settlement negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He was commenting on the possible involvement of other international organizations, such as the Council of Europe, United Nations and other organizations in the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh. The diplomat stressed that statemen’s by other international groups and bodies that reinforce the OSCE Minsk Group process and the Co-Chairs’ Basic Principles may certainly be helpful. The leaders of the G8 countries issued such a statement in St. Petersburg in July, he added. Bryza recalled that more recently, the UN and OSCE worked together to bring about an OSCE-led assessment mission of the wild fires in and around Nagorno-Karabakh with joint participation of Azeri and Karabakh-Armenian experts. "I consider that kind of co-operation to be a positive sign, and I hope we’ll see the two sides agree to more of these kinds of confidence-building measures in the future," he stated. "We were encouraged by the positive mood and open-minded spirit of the two Foreign Ministers in their recent discussions, as well as their commitment to continue discussions based on the Co-Chairs’ Basic Principles," he said. The diplomat voiced his belief that the basic principles represent a fair, balanced, workable solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and hoped that the two sides will embrace those principles–perhaps with some minor modifications and improvemen’s based on their own input–as the basis for enduring peace in the region.

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