By Fuad Muxtar-Aqbabali
Offical Baku has once again defied the unfaltering US and French
calls for the revival of the stillborn OSCE Minsk Group, set up in
the early 1990s, to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict that lasted nearly 30 years.
Although the group was vested with an international mandate to
coerce the occupying Armenia to pull troops out of Azerbaijan's
native lands, each co-chair nation - France, Russia, and the USA -
pursued their own strategic and long-term interests and failed to
think of the essence of their mandate, thus inflicted unrepairable
damage to the post-WWII order on solid columns of which the
interstate relations stood.
Azerbaijan finally lost hopes for the OSCE mediators to come up
with a concerted option, and the July 2020 Tovuz battles, in which
Azerbaijani lands came under insidious missile attacks, were the
last straw that broke the camel's back. Azerbaijan took the bull by
the horns and succeeded in liberating the occupied lands by force
of the triumphant national army in the 44-day-long second Karabakh
war. This triumph of the Azerbaijani army and the government has
changed the overall gloomy picture around the occupation of the
Azerbaijani lands, and consequently, the existence of the Minsk
Group became extraneous and beside the point.
In remarks for the latest cabinet meeting, Azerbaijani President
Ilham Aliyev unambiguously and perspicuously ruled out
resuscitating the Minsk Group.
“Attempts are still being made to revive the now-defunct Minsk
group. The Minsk Group has now left the stage. We, a country
participating in this process, are saying that there is no need for
the Minsk Group. There is no need for a group that has not produced
any results in 28 years. This is what we say. To put it mildly, a
cold war is going on between co-chairs of the Minsk Group. They
have actually admitted that the Minsk Group is not functional
anymore. The Russian side says that the Minsk Group is no longer
active and that the other co-chairs have put an end to this
“The Armenian side, meanwhile, says every minute that the Minsk
Group has done this and that. What does this mean? Simply put, we
see a territorial claim against our country behind this. On the one
hand, Armenia accepts and acknowledges our five principles,
including the mutual recognition of the territorial integrity of
countries, the relinquishment of territorial claims against each
other, and other provisions, but on the other, it seems that the
Minsk Group needs to be kept busy. Then the question is: what
should it be doing? The Karabakh conflict has been resolved and the
Karabakh issue has been closed. Karabakh is Azerbaijan! I said
this, I said this quite rightly, and everyone is saying this now,
including Armenia, which is forced to say this, says it
unwillingly. All countries and organizations we are discussing this
issue with are saying this,” the president said outrightly.
However, the U.S. seems unsatisfied with what the Azerbaijani
president said lately.
The United States reiterates its readiness to continue working
with Russia in the OSCE Minsk Group for a comprehensive and
peaceful settlement of the Karabakh problem, US ambassador to
Armenia Lynn Tracy has recently said.
“We have stated that we are ready to use the Minsk Group as a
platform. This offer remains open. We have not heard a reaction
from Russian colleagues to this proposal. But I think this is the
first step, after which we can talk about other steps and ideas,”
the ambassador said.
At this point, one cannot but be dumbfounded by this allegation.
What or who hindered the OSCE Minsk Group with the proper mandate
to live up to the mission and accomplish it as required by
international rules and laws?
“We expect that Russia will take the first step, and this will
be Russia's return to its participation in this format. We continue
to consider the Minsk Group as a format, a platform with an
international mandate to discuss the situation in
Nagorno-Karabakh,” Lynn Tracy stressed and pretended she did not
hear what Russia's Sergei Lavrov said about the impotent group.
Interestingly, Ambassador Tracy's statement came in the wake of
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price's press release about the
July 25 telephone conversation between Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The Secretary and President
Aliyev discussed Azerbaijan and Armenia's historic opportunity to
achieve peace in the region. The Secretary reiterated the United
States' offer of assistance in helping facilitate the opening of
regional transportation and communication linkages. Secretary
Blinken encouraged continued bilateral dialogue, such as the recent
meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers in
Tbilisi. The Secretary also reaffirmed support for productive
EU-brokered discussions. He conveyed that the United States has
been an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair since 1994 and stands ready to
engage bilaterally and with like-minded partners to help Armenia
and Azerbaijan find a long-term comprehensive peace.”
In response to mentioning the OSCE Minsk Group in the press
release of the US State Department, Azerbaijani media, citing its
own“diplomatic sources”, denied that the issue was discussed in
the phone conversation.
“The statement of the State Department noted that during the
conversation, among other issues, the topic of resuming the
participation of the OSCE Minsk Group in the Armenian-Azerbaijani
peace process was discussed. According to information from
diplomatic sources, there was no mention of the Minsk Group in
Aliyev's conversation with Blinken and the source expressed sincere
bewilderment at the fact of such obvious disinformation, calling it
extremely inappropriate and even irresponsible. It is incompetent
and wrong to discuss the idea of resuscitation of the OSCE Minsk
Group that has sunk into oblivion.”
Antony Blinken was quoted as saying in the conversation with
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that the USA is ready to
continue its activities as a co-chair of the Minsk Group.
Washington does not want to abandon the Minsk Group.
Washington's insistence on the Minsk Group does not promise
anything positive for US-Azerbaijani relations, as it serves alien
interests and Ambassador Tracy's latest urging once again confirms
On how the United States treats the statements of the
Azerbaijani president that the conflict has already been resolved
and there is no need for mediators, Ambassador Tracy stressed that,
despite these statements, Washington will continue to look for ways
to use the Minsk Group format.
“Despite Russia's war against Ukraine, which has attracted a lot
of attention in the world, the United States is very attentive to
the situation in this region, the situation between Armenia and
Azerbaijan. I think it's reflected in the phone calls, and the
contacts that we have seen since this administration came into
power. This shows the commitment of the U.S., the U.S. Secretary of
State, to the desire to avoid the resumption of conflicts, to keep
discussions in the spotlight, to make progress, and to do it
through diplomacy,” the US ambassador said.
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