ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)—Stressing that Azerbaijan and Turkey consider themselves “one nation, two states,” the French Co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group ruled out the possibility of Turkey’s involvement as a mediator in the peace process, indicating that Turkey was actually a party in the issue.
“Turkey’s mediation in this process is not possible. Common sense demands this,” Bernard Fassier told Today’s Zaman, while reiterating that the Nagorno-Karabakh process and the normalization efforts between Ankara and Yerevan should be considered two independent processes.
Fassier, nonetheless, called the two issues “two processes within the same regional area” and admitted that any progress in one of the two processes might have a “positive and useful” impact on the other process.
The Nagorno-Karabakh issue has been used in domestic policy in Turkey, and linking the Turkish-Armenian and Azeri-Armenian processes might lead to no resolution for either of the problems, he also warned.
Fassier emphasized that their primary goal was maintaining a “rapprochement” between the two sides. An eventual decision concerning the final status of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute could be made afterward, Fassier said.
With each passing year, the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is becoming more difficult, Fassier told Today’s Zaman.
“I very much hope that a war does not occur,” Fassier continued, stressing that last year’s clashes between the two countries, in which 30 people were killed, prove there is still a risk of war.
In addition, incidents in March involving the use of guns and mortars brought the two countries to the brink of war, he said, adding: “Thank God we were able to stop the escalation of violence. If not, a new war might have erupted.”
Noting that the OSCE mediation process has been under way for 15 years, Fassier mentioned “grudges” between Armenians and Azeris and the use of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue by both countries’ politicians as a tool for domestic policy as the two main reasons behind “delays” in the process.
“Maintaining national unity by showing a neighbor as the enemy has always been easy. I believe that the issue would have been resolved a long time ago if both sides used this issue less in their domestic policies and instead had shown greater political courage,” Fassier added.