ASTANA, Kazakhstan—Hours after adding his name Wednesday to a five-party statement promising “more decisive efforts” to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, lashed out at Armenia claiming that it was the aggressor in the Karabakh conflict.
At the onset of the OSCE Summit, which convened in Kazakhstan’s new capital, the heads of the US, Russian and French delegation were joined by President Serzh Sarkisian and Aliyev in issuing a joint statement on the Karabakh conflict resolution and their collective pledge to take more concrete steps toward peace.
“On the occasion of the OSCE Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries (the President of the Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev, the Prime Minister of France Francois Fillon, and the Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton), the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, and the President of Armenia Serge Sargsian agreed that the time has come for more decisive efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” read the statement.
“In this context, they recalled the joint statements of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the President of the Russian Federation, on November 2, 2008, in Moscow, and on October 27, 2010, in Astrakhan. They further agreed that a peaceful, negotiated settlement will bring stability and security and is the only way to bring real reconciliation to the peoples of the region,” the statement continued.
“The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan reaffirmed their commitment to seek a final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, based upon: the principles and norms of international law; the United Nations Charter; the Helsinki Final Act; as well as the statements of Presidents Medvedev, Sarkozy, and Obama, at L’Aquila on July 10, 2009, and at Muskoka on June 26, 2010,” added the statement.
“The three OSCE Co-Chair countries pledged their support for the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia as they make the necessary decisions to reach a peaceful settlement. They urged the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to focus with renewed energy on the issues that still remain in the Basic Principles, and instructed their Co-Chairs to continue to work with the parties to the conflict to assist in these efforts. In order to create a better atmosphere for the negotiations, they called for additional steps to strengthen the ceasefire and carry out confidence-building measures in all fields,” concluded the statement.
Aliyev and Sarkisian did not meet at Astana. An Armenian diplomatic source, who asked not to be identified, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the Azerbaijani leader canceled his planned talks with Sarkisian and Medvedev “at the last minute.”
The source claimed that Aliyev did so because of “glaring contradictions” between the text of the five-party statement and his speech at the summit delivered later in the day, reported RFE/RL.
Instead, in a speech delivered to the summit, Aliyev accused Armenia of prolonging the conflict’s status quo and manipulating the OSCE-led peace process.
Armenia wants to “change the negotiations conducted by mediation of OSCE Minsk Group into a senseless process. Negotiations have been conducted for 20 years, but there is no result. We are ready to continue negotiations, finish it in a short time, achieve results based on territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and corresponding to international norms and principles,” said Aliyev.
In his usual rhetoric, Aliyev accused Armenia of initiating the war in Karabakh and occupying territories, as well as committing war crimes during the Karabakh liberation struggle in the early 1990s.
This was in stark contrast to statements made by Medvedev and Clinton during the summit.
“And we must also renew our efforts toward a settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh based on basic principles elaborated under the auspices of the Minsk Group. Let me reiterate on behalf of the Minsk Group co-chair countries that the foundation of any lasting and fair settlement must be the Helsinki principles as well as the six elements articulated by Presidents Medvedev, Sarkozy, and Obama on July 10, 2009 at L’Aquila and repeated at Muskoka on June 26, 2010,” said Clinton.
“These proposed elements were conceived as an integrated whole and any attempt to select some elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution,” said Clinton in reference to the six principles.
She also stressed that the conflict should be resolved based on non-use of force or threat of force, territorial integrity and self-determination.
Her sentiments were echoed by Medvedev who said, “the OSCE should develop common principles to settle conflicts which should be applied permanently and without selection,” explaining that the universal principles should be “disavowal of the use of force, respect for existing negotiation formats and residents of conflict areas.”
Sarkisian is expected to address the summit Thursday.