Polish Envoy Backs Karabakh Role in Minsk Group Peace Talks

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh should be a party to Armenian-Azerbaijani peace negotiations, Poland’s ambassador to Armenia indicated on Monday.

Zdzislaw Raczynski also insisted that a recent resolution by the European Parliament, criticized by Armenia, does not mean that the European Union is seeking direct involvement in the negotiating process that has long been mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group.

“No organization except the OSCE, not even the EU and the UN, is involved in Karabakh negotiations,” Raczynski told a news conference.

The president of the EU’s executive European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, likewise said after talks with Armenia’s visiting President Serzh Sarkisian last week that the bloc hopes to “see some progress soon through the ongoing negotiations of the OSCE Minsk Group.”

“I have informed President Sarkisian that the EU is ready to step up its efforts in support of the resolution of the conflict notably through the EU-funded program of confidence building measures such as people-to-people contacts,” Barroso told journalists in Brussels.

In a non-binding resolution on the South Caucasus adopted on May 20, the European Parliament demanded Armenia’s withdrawal from the liberated territories of Nagorno-Karabakh. The resolution did not specify whether that should be done immediately and unconditionally or after the signing of a comprehensive Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement.

Armenia’s government and leading political forces rejected this demand, saying that it contradicts the Minsk Group’s existing plan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh endorsed by the EU. The so-called Madrid Document calls for the liberation of virtually all Armenian-controlled territories around Karabakh in return for a future referendum on self-determination within the disputed territory itself.

Raczynski declined to comment on official Yerevan’s claims that the resolution clause is at odds with EU governments’ position on the Karabakh conflict resolution. “Formulations in that resolution are very general and it is the two, or rather three, parties that should negotiate over details,” he said.

The envoy clarified that those parties are Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh. He also said Poland has a “neutral” stance on the conflict and shares the Minsk Group mediators’ view that a Karabakh settlement should be based on the principles of both territorial integrity and peoples’ self-determination.

Despite regular visits to Stepanakert by the group’s American, French and Russian co-chairs, Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership has not been directly involved in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks for over a decade. Azerbaijan refuses any direct contacts with the Karabakh Armenians, saying that the disputed territory is controlled by Armenia.

The mediators have repeatedly assured the authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert that the Karabakh Armenians will play a major role at a later stage in the peace process.


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