By Emil Danielyan and Karine Kalantarian
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev on Friday blamed Armenia for the European Parliament’s refusal to demand the return of Armenian-occupied territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Brussels assembly avoided making such a call in a report on the European Union’s policy towards the South Caucasus adopted on Thursday.
“Armenia has once again demonstrated its non-constructive position and unwillingness to accept any proposals from the international community on the conflict’s settlement," Guliev told the Azerbaijani Turan news agency. “Armenia, which occupied Azerbaijani territories and attempts to legalize the results of this occupation, is responsible for all that.”
The initial version of the European Parliament report, drafted by Swedish lawmaker Per Gahrton, suggested the liberation of five of the seven Armenian-controlled districts in Azerbaijan in return for the resumption of railway communication between the two South Caucasus foes. The clause was removed by EU legislators after strong objections from Yerevan and Armenian lobbying groups in Europe. The Armenian Foreign Ministry welcomed the move.
Guliev claimed that the Armenian side is “aggravating the situation in the region” and thwarting the regional countries’ integration into Europe.
Gahrton’s idea is a variation of the so-called phased strategy of resolving the Karabakh conflict that has repeatedly been rejected by Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. They insist all contentious issues, including Karabakh’s status, be settled in a single peace accord.
In a separate development, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John Ordway, said the American, French and Russian negotiators leading the Minsk Group of the OSCE are “determined” to try reinvigorate the moribund peace process.
“The co-chairs are determined to press ahead,” he told a news conference. “We will work intensively with the parties to identify areas in which there can be agreement and move forward to what we all want: a durable, just resolution to this problem.”
But he would not say when they plan to unveil new peace proposals to the parties. It also remains unclear whether those proposals will be based on agreements reached by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in 2001 or will be drawn up from scratch as is demanded by Baku.
Ordway also described as “extremely low” the likelihood of renewed fighting in Karabakh increasingly threatened by Azerbaijan. “We would do everything we can to prevent it from happening,” he said.
“I think that it would be more than foolish for either side to resort to military action to try to resolve the Karabakh conflict.”