The United States, Russia and France on Thursday renewed their calls for a quick peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that failure to achieve it would only deepen “the wounds of war.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe appealed to the conflicting parties in a joint statement issued on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the OSCE Minsk Group -- the main international body trying to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal. The three world powers have co-headed the group for over a decade.
The statement pointed out that Presidents Serzh Sarkisian of Armenian and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan pledged to the accelerate reaching a framework peace agreement at their most recent meeting held in Sochi, Russia on January 23. “We urge the leaders of the sides to complete work as soon as possible on the framework agreement and subsequent final settlement,” it said.
“We recall that the peoples of the region have suffered most from the consequences of war, and any delay in reaching a settlement will only prolong their hardships. A new generation has come of age in the region with no first-hand memory of Armenians and Azeris living side by side, and prolonging these artificial divisions only deepens the wounds of war,” warned the chief U.S., Russian and French diplomats.
Clinton, Lavrov and Juppe also reiterated the mediating powers’ strong opposition to possible attempts by either warring side to resolve the conflict by force. They said that “would bring only more suffering to a region that has known uncertainty and insecurity for too long.”
Clinton, Lavrov and another French minister similarly stated in December that “there can be no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” At the same time, they described as “unacceptable” the status quo in the unresolved dispute.
Their latest statement did not clarify whether the mediators think the parties could and should bridge their differences before presidential elections due in both Armenia and Azerbaijan next year.