YEREVAN—The US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassador James Warlick, told journalists on Tuesday that the input of Artsakh’s authorities in the peace negotiations process is important. “It is quite important that the voice of Karabakh’s de facto leadership is heard in the negotiations process,” Warlick told reporters at the US Embassy in Armenia. “That is the reason why we often visit the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and meet with the local authorities to take their opinion into account as well.”
Warlick said that one of the biggest problems in the negotiations process is the lack of trust between the sides. “I have noticed [a lack of trust] both during meetings with local officials and in Baku. The OSCE has made proposals directed at mutual trust establishment, though it is necessary that the sides accept them,” Ambassador Warlick said.
Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev will have another meeting in October in Paris, moderated by French President Francois Hollande, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday, following a meeting between Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Ambassador James Warlick.
“The sides emphasized the importance of the upcoming meeting, and discussed a set of issues raised at the previous meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which took place on Sept. 4 at Newport (Wales) at the initiative of U.S. secretary of state John Kerry,” the Foreign Ministry reported.
Earlier a similar meeting was initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Aug. 10 in the Russian city of Sochi. That meeting was said to have helped ease tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting broke out in late July and early August.
The US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group says the mission is concerned over the recent violence along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the Line of Contact surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, Tert.am reports.
At his news conference at the US Embassy, James Warlick voiced alarm over Azerbaijan’s arms build-up and the possible risks it poses to the region.
“We are working closely with the Russians and communicate regularly with the Russian co-chair in the framework of the Minsk Group. Despite our differences in other parts of the world, we see the way forward. And we want to coordinate our diplomacy and work together, and I hope we can, at some point as mediators, achieve a lasting settlement [of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict]. We are concerned about the arms buildup and the risks it poses for peace and for successful negotiations. That’s our shared goal of peace,” Warlick said.
The diplomat also stressed the role of the conflicting countries’ active efforts towards reducing tensions at the border.
“This isn’t an issue for co-chairs to deal with directly, but we do talk about the issue of violence along the Line of Contact and along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. We are concerned about the violence that has taken place and the deaths and injuries it has resulted in, and if we are to find a way to a lasting peace, we know that violence must stop and the ceasefire must be respected.”
Asked about the efficacy of the negotiations process given the recent escalation of tensions at the border, Warlick responded, “Well, I understand that people are frustrated, as the negotiations have been going on for twenty years now. The war that took place from 1992 to 1994 was devastating for the countries, for both Armenia and Azerbaijan, and we don’t ever want to see those days return. Negotiations that cover such an important issue are never easy, but as I said before, there is a window of opportunity.”
In that context, he recalled particularly the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents’ 2013 meeting in Vienna and their recent talks with Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Wales.
He further stressed the importance of reaching a new level in the negotiations. “The time has come to move the negotiations to another level. It’s not enough for the presidents to meet on an occasional basis or foreign ministers to meet on an occasional basis. There needs to be a more formal negotiating process. And it’s up to the parties to determine what that format should be and what that process should be. We are not predetermining an outcome, we are not asking any of the parties to make compromises, we are asking for a process to begin,” the diplomat said.