Heiko Langner: Karabakh problem reaches international crisis level
The Vienna meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, mediated by the foreign ministers of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries (Russia, the US, France), Sergei Lavrov, John Kerry and the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Harlem Desir, shows that the international community is interested in settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a political scientist from Berlin, Heiko Langner, said in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
He praised the meeting of the two leaders as a significant achievement of the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group. "Thus, the priority of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has reached the level of international crisis diplomacy. This meeting is the first direct contact between the leaders of the two conflicting sides after heavy armed clashes on the frontline in late April," the expert reminded.
According to the political expert, the main outcome of the meeting is the statements of the sides about the importance of the ceasefire and closer monitoring of the OSCE. "The first results of the meeting indicate the right direction: both sides have confirmed compliance with the truce and strengthening of the OSCE mission monitoring. In addition, a mechanism for investigation of incidents in the conflict zone should be introduced in the future. The Personal Representative of OSCE Chairman-in-Office on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will receive additional stuff at his disposal," he explained.
"There is a decisive issue of whether the OSCE observers will be able to carry out monitoring on the frontline without notice. Both sides of the conflict have been calm during such visits. However, the sniper war resumed almost immediately after the departure of the observers," Langner added.
However, "confidence-building and security measures announced in Vienna must be stronger tied to the process of a political solution to the conflict," the expert noted. "We need a concrete progress on the implementation of the 'Madrid principles', which have been accepted by both sides as a basis for resolving the conflict, which provide the return of the seven occupied regions around Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan," the political expert stressed.
Heiko Langner noted that the economic revival of the war-scorched areas will be possible only under this condition to ensure return of 700 thousand IDPs as soon as possible. "From the viewpoint of international law, all the areas occupied by Armenia, including the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, is an integral part of Azerbaijan. The liberation of the seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh, which were settled by Azerbaijanis before the war, is an absolute prerequisite for progress in the negotiations," he said.
"Otherwise, it turns out that for its occupation policy Armenia will actually be rewarded with the introduction of measures to strengthen confidence and security. But the Armenian military occupation is not part of the solution to the conflict. The occupation is part of the problem that must be overcome," Heiko Langner concluded.