OSCE Minsk Group: to be or not to be?

Continuing tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as frequent ceasefire violations on the contact line has rendered efforts of international mediators to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict even more difficult.

Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles. However, the negotiations have been fruitless so far despite the efforts of the co-chair countries over 20 years.

Following recent developments, namely the Armenian provocative moves and sabotages, and the downing of a helicopter by the Azerbaijani army, have negatively impacted the negotiation process.

Some experts are questioning the effectiveness of the OSCE Minsk Group, saying it has lost its reputation as a mediating institution and even hoped to replace it with another mechanism.

However, Aydin Mirzazade, MP and deputy chairman of Azerbaijani parliament’s security and defense committee believes that the Minsk Group hasn’t lost it efficiency.

“The Minsk Group is not a separate stand-alone institution. It is a mechanism of action of the three influential countries of world to solve the problem,” Mirzazade told AzerNews.

He said the existence of this mechanism is a very unique event in the world because there is no such a mechanism in such conflicts.

Mirzazade noted that it is another question that there are many expectations from this organization regarding the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“We are in favor of joining efforts of the United States, France and Russia and impact on Armenia for its pull out from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories. In this respect, the world has already started to look to this issue through the eyes of Azerbaijan and defend its position. This is in itself an image of new idea in the world regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh problem,” Mirzazade said.

On the other hand, some exerts still consider the activity of the Minsk Group as inactivity.

Elman Nasirov, political expert and Director of the Institute of Political Studies of the Academy of Public Administration under the president of Azerbaijan said despite the Minsk Group has been engaged as a mediator in the conflict resolution, it can boast with only one thing: not with result, but with prevention of conflict’s turning into a war.

“However, military incidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijani contact line in late July-early August, as well as the helicopter issue showed that this conflict can break out at any moment,” Nasirov said.

He noted that the mediators’ thoughts on prevention of conflict’s transformation into the war is nothing more than an illusion, they comfort themselves with this idea.

Nasirov also added that there are some bewildering moments. “Armenia’s Serzh Sargsyan held an immediate meeting of the ruling party in the country right after his return back to Yerevan from the NATO’s Wels summit in September. He told the party that Armenia has made more stringent achievements in the OSCE and its Minsk Group format, but Azerbaijan has achieved more serious accomplishment in terms of PACE and NATO. Sargsyan says that Armenians should take measures to repeat its achievements gained in OSCE in terms of PACE and NATO,” Nasirov said.

Nasirov stressed that this once again confirms that “if Armenia satisfied with OSCE’s activity, then its serves the interests of Armenia.”

Touching upon the replacement of this format with other format, Nasirov noted that serious discussions should be held for finding the convenient format.

The precarious cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia was reached after a lengthy war that displaced over a million Azerbaijanis and has been in place between the two South Caucasus countries since 1994. Since the hostilities, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

As a result of the military aggression of Armenia, over 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, 4,866 are reported missing and almost 100,000 were injured, and 50,000 were disabled.

The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenia’s withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory, but they have not been enforced to this day.