Azerbaijan will fail to regain control over Nagorno-Karabakh despite its frequent threats of military action, a former French mediator in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks reportedly said on Friday.
“Only Armenians live in Nagorno-Karabakh and they don’t want a change in their status. Therefore, Nagorno-Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijan is no longer possible,” Armenian media outlets quoted Jacques Faure as saying during a NATO seminar in Yerevan.
Faure, who co-headed the OSCE Minsk Group together with U.S. and Russian diplomats from 2011-2014, said the Karabakh Armenians should therefore have a chance to gain international recognition of their de facto status through a “free expression of will.” “I personally hope that this will become possible,” he added.
Peace proposals made by U.S., Russian and French mediators over the past decade appear to allow for such recognition. One of the key elements of their Basic Principles of a peaceful settlement is the future conduct of a referendum on Karabakh’s status. In return, the Karabakh Armenians would have to withdraw from all but one of the seven districts in Azerbaijan proper that were fully or partly occupied by them in 1992-1993.
Faure said that despite its massive military buildup the Azerbaijani leadership is unlikely to act on its regular threats to reconquer Karabakh and the surrounding territories. He said Azerbaijan would suffer huge economic losses in case of another war with the Armenians.
The retired French diplomat also asserted that both the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders lack the “political will” to make unpopular mutual concessions needed for achieving a long-awaited peace deal.