Simple solution for Karabakh conflict exists

By: Sara Rajabova

There is a very simple and effective solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, an American expert believes.

Frederick Starr, the professor at the Johns Hopkins University and a founding chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, made the remark in his interview with Day.Az.

He said the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been tasked with settling the Nagorno-Karabakh over 20 years, has failed to solve the dispute.

“We have gained two decades of experience in the Minsk process. If you send a child to study at school for 20 years, and during that time he learns nothing, you have to consider whether he should continue to go to school at all,” Starr said.

Starr believes the Minsk group has suffered an obvious fiasco in this regard, noting that the reasons are well-known and needn’t be repeated.

“I think the only way forward is the recognition of this fiasco and defining more practical ways for development in the future,” Starr said.

Starr further said a completely different method of solving the conflict should be considered.

“I never doubted that there is a very simple and effective solution to the Karabakh conflict. It’s not a dilemma with no solution. In fact, it’s simple. The only question is the methodology of reaching an agreement,” the expert said.

“It is clear that the occupied territory should be returned. This is not a subject for discussion.”

Starr believes the matter is not just finding way to resolve the conflict, but to find out in general what should be done following a peace agreement.

“I believe that many people in Armenia, especially the younger generation, might one day think about the opportunities that will be opened to them once a settlement is reached in the post-conflict period in the South Caucasus. When they are aware of these opportunities, they will say: ‘Yes, it is time to move forward’,” Starr said.

He said the endless study of the negotiation process should be stopped and a broader view of the prospect at a time when a decision is reached should be adopted.

“The world is changing. Azerbaijan is a completely different country; it is not the same as it was at the beginning of the Minsk process. Armenia and Russia have also changed. It’s time to find a solution method that reflects today’s realities. Unfortunately, we are stuck in this very primitive mechanism of the Minsk process and need an immediate way of finding new methods,” Starr stressed.

He noted that Azerbaijan and Armenia are the two sides responsible for settling the conflict.

For over two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a conflict which emerged over Armenia’s territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor.

Since a war in the early 1990s, the Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 1994, but long-standing efforts by U.S., Russian, and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s four resolutions on its withdrawal from Azerbaijan’s territories.


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