Azerbaijan Seeking to Dissolve OSCE Minsk Group, Says Oskanian

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Azerbaijan is pressing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to dissolve its so-called Minsk Group that has long been spearheading international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Friday.
"They are trying to start, through the OSCE Secretariat, a process of the dissolution of the Minsk Group," Oskanian told lawmakers in Yerevan. "They have officially appealed [to the Secretariat.]"
The group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States, was set up in 1992 and has been trying to broke a compromise solution to the Karabakh dispute. Azerbaijani has repeatedly criticized the three nations for their reluctance to restore its control over the disputed enclave but has stopped short of seeking a major change in the format of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks until now.
Still, official Baku threatened to review its relations with the mediating powers after they voted last Friday against a UN General Assembly resolution that upheld Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh and demanded an "immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces" from occupied Azerbaijani lands.
"The UN resolution is a serious message to Armenia and a warning for the co-chairs," Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said at the weekend. "We will cooperate with them on the basis of their position in the UN General Assembly."
For his part, Vilayat Guliev, a former Azerbaijani foreign minister who currently serves as his country’s ambassador to Poland, said on Wednesday that the existence of the Minsk Group has become "useless" and accused its co-chairs of favoring the Armenian side.
"The recent vote in the UN on the resolution presented by Azerbaijan once again showed their strange neutrality," he told the news service. "It appears that the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are more interested in the conflict’s continuation than its fair resolution."
The US, Russia and France voted against the resolution, stressing the importance of continued mediation efforts through the OSCE Minsk Group, which they co-chair. They were joined by Armenia, Angola, India, and Vanuatu. Over 150 countries abstained or did not vote. Only 39 countries supported the resolution, out of organizational affinity with either GUAM or the Organization of Islamic Conference.
The Azerbaijani criticism may deal a further blow to the mediators’ hopes for the signing of an Armenian-Azerbaijani framework peace accord on Karabakh that was formally put forward by them last November. Diplomats involved in the talks said earlier this year that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed on the key points of that accord.
Meanwhile, the abstention of a majority of UN General Assembly members from last Friday’s vote on an Azeri drafted resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh has resulted in another international defeat for Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Georgy Petrosian told Novosti Armenia on Wednesday.
"Although it tries to play it off as a moral victory, Azerbaijan has actually suffered another defeat as a result of the discussions at the UN General Assembly," Petrosian said. "Azerbaijan submitted a one-sided document despite OSCE warnings and because of that about 150 countries either voted against the resolution or abstained."
Petrosian said that he believes this is a very extraordinary development. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries all voted against the draft resolution, he explained.
"I think this sent Azerbaijan a clear message that their traditional methods of one-sided pressure are not going to work, the foreign minister added. "With its actions, Azerbaijan has again proven that it is opposed to a peaceful and compromise settlement and is instead seeking the use of force to resolve the problem."
In related news, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tigran Balayan Wednesday told Novosti Armenia that the international community knows that Azerbaijan’s draft resolution contradicts the document currently on the bargaining table.
Balayan’s commen’s came in response to Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Khazar Ibrahim’s recent statemen’s assessing the adoption of the resolution as a positive sign for Azerbaijan.
"Perhaps, Azerbaijan expected to win some sort of dividends with this initiative, but that didn’t happen," Balayan said. "Or maybe they are preparing the groundwork for avoiding the current negotiation process of the Minsk Group, and the current document on the bargaining table."


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