STEPANAKERT—The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Ministry on Thursday issued a statement in response to an official US position paper that was made public Wednesday by the OSCE Minsk Group’s US Co-chairman James Warlick.
“We consider it necessary to note that the position of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic on the prospects of resolving the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict remains unchanged,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic said in the statement.
“Any return to the past is out of question. The fate of Nagorno Karabakh has been determined by its people through a free and legitimate expression of will in the 1991 referendum on independence. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s independence and security are absolute values that are not subject to any bargaining,” added the statement.
“We believe that the joint efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group should focus on the development of such settlement mechanisms that stem from current realities and provide conditions for the peaceful coexistence of two independent states – the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan – emerged as a result of the collapse of the USSR and the war unleashed by Azerbaijan,” the Foreign Ministry said.
In his remarks, delivered Wednesday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Warlick put forth six points, which he said was the US position on how best to resolve the conflict.
“In no particular order,” Warlick said, “these elements are:
First, in light of Nagorno-Karabakh’s complex history, the sides should commit to determining its final legal status through a mutually agreed and legally binding expression of will in the future. This is not optional. Interim status will be temporary.
Second, the area within the boundaries of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region that is not controlled by Baku should be granted an interim status that, at a minimum, provides guarantees for security and self-governance.
Third, the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh should be returned to Azerbaijani control. There can be no settlement without respect for Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, and the recognition that its sovereignty over these territories must be restored.
Fourth, there should be a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. It must be wide enough to provide secure passage, but it cannot encompass the whole of Lachin district.
Fifth, an enduring settlement will have to recognize the right of all IDPs and refugees to return to their former places of residence.
Sixth and finally, a settlement must include international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation. There is no scenario in which peace can be assured without a well-designed peacekeeping operation that enjoys the confidence of all sides.”
To clarify the issue of the so-called “occupied territories,” US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern said that “the status of Nagorno Karabakh and its adjacent territories should be differentiated.”
Heffern told the Yerevan-based Mediamax news agency, Heffern said the Warlick statement was an attempt to provide renewed impetus to the negotiation process. According to him, the statement aims to call on the conflict parties and societies to differentiate the status of Nagorno Karabakh and its adjacent territories.
“We feel that both capitals and people view those territories as whole Nagorno Karabakh whereas those are different territories, and there should be different outcomes depending on it,” Heffern told Mediamax.
Meanwhile in Baku, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov on Thursday said that in order for peace to prevail Armenians, first and foremost, must withdraw from the so-called “occupied territories.”
“Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is not a subject of negotiations,” said Mammadyarov, adding that Baku has agreed to “start working on a peace treaty to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.”