Steinmeier to visit Baku for Karabakh talks
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Germany's Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Baku on June 30, diplomatic sources said on June 27.
Steinmeier will meet with high-ranking officials of the country to discuss the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and bilateral relations, Trend reports.
Moreover, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office will also visit Georgia and Armenia.
In an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza, Deputy Director at the CIS Institute, Vladimir Zharikhin, he noted that despite its desire, Germany is unlikely to fit into current format of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. "I think that Germany really wants to join the negotiation process, but current working structure of the Minsk Group will hinder its active involvement in the mediation process. Russia, France and the United States have come a long path to formulate the positions on conflict settlement, and Germany is unlikely to join immediatelly," he expressed his confidence.
According to the expert, Germany intends to strengthen its positions on the European continent this way. "Germany believes that it is the leader of the European Union, and so it is only natural that as the chairman of the OSCE, it will participate in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement more actively than others," he said.
A political scientist and MP of the Azerbaijani Majlis, Rasim Musabekov, expressed doubt in the fact that Germany is really interested in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. "Considering the fact that Germany is a member of the Minsk Group and, at the same time, is one of the most influential states of the European Union, its interest in the conflict could be higher. There is nothing special in Steinmeier's visit to the region: Germany is chairing the OSCE, almost all current chairmen of the organization pay visit to this region. The thing is that the only conflict resolved with the help of the OSCE is the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We'll see after the visit how will Germany contribute to the settlement. As I recall, Steinmeier did not attend the meeting in Vienna," he pointed out.
"Overall, Germany is capable of using diplomatic and economic resources of the European Union to stimulate the peaceful settlement of the conflict. If the Minsk Group's efforts will fail once again, Germany, as the chairing country, may initiate convening of the Minsk Conference in order to study the situation in a broader context, presenting opinions of not only the Minsk Group," he stated.
As Vestnik Kavkaza previously reported, on June 23, German Foreign Minister discussed the upcoming visit with co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Berlin.
They told Steinmeier about the meeting of presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia in St. Petersburg and about the achieved agreement on increasing the number of OSCE observers in the conflict zone to facilitate the peace talks.
Recall, on the night of April 2 all frontier positions of Azerbaijan were exposed to heavy fire from large-caliber weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and guns. In addition, Azerbaijani settlements near the front line, densely populated by civilians, were shelled.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20% of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US, are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.