Azerbaijan believes that the United States, Russia and France must no longer be the only countries spearheading international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Wednesday.
“Azerbaijan is proposing an increase in the number of OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs,” Ivica Dacic, who is also Serbia’s foreign minister, said after talks in Yerevan with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian.
Dacic, who visited Baku earlier this week, did not specify whether the Azerbaijani government has suggested that particular OSCE member states take over as additional co-chairs of the Minsk Group.
“I don’t think it’s a new proposal,” he told a joint news conference with Nalbandian. “But in order to accept this proposal we need a decision taken by consensus by all participating countries. We may look into this issue in the future.”
“But I think that the OSCE Minsk Group must continue to work. Even if one party is not happy with its work, it’s the only format where different negotiations and dialogue have been going on and it must be preserved,” Dacic said.
In recent years President Ilham Aliyev and other Azerbaijani officials have increasingly criticized the U.S., Russian and French mediators for not helping Baku regain control over Karabakh and surrounding territories. Some of them have accused the West and Russia of pro-Armenian bias.
“In the last 20 years the three countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group have not taken a single step to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov charged last month.
Armenian leaders have repeatedly rejected this criticism, saying that the three mediating powers deserve praise for their joint efforts. Yerevan is therefore extremely unlikely to agree to any change in the negotiating format.
“Armenia believes that the Minsk Group is a fairly effective framework within which it is possible to achieve a settlement,” Tigran Balayan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), commenting on Dacic’s statement.
While in Yerevan, Dacic also met with Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president. Sahakian was quoted by his press office as telling the Serbian minister that the Karabakh Armenians’ “full-fledged” participation in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations is essential for the success of the Karabakh peace process.