WARSAW—Armenia’s president and foreign minister cited what they called Baku’s destructive policies as the main obstacle in achieving a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as they attended a NATO summit in the Polish capital over the weekend.
While addressing the heads of state and government of NATO member and non-member states on Saturday, President Serzh Sarkisian chided Azerbaijan for attempting to “artificially” embed the Karabakh issue in NATO’s agenda and said that its non-constructive policies posed a threat to the peace process.
“I see it as my duty to underscore that today the main obstacle on the road toward the resolution of the conflict is the policy conducted by the highest leadership of Azerbaijan and the lack of will to solve the problem peacefully,” said Sarkisian.
“It was vividly demonstrated by the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh last April, which was a heavy blow to the efforts carried out by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and aimed at the peaceful settlement of the issue. The status quo will change when the people of Nagorno Karabakh will receive the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination,” added Sarksiian.
Earlier in the NATO session, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev told the gathering that Armenia was an aggressor in the region, accusing Yerevan of threatening regional stability.
“As for the allegations voiced by the President of Azerbaijan, I don’t believe it is appropriate to artificially turn this meeting and the NATO declarations into a platform for the discussions of the NK issue: there is a specialized structure for it,” said Sarksiian who also briefed the summit on the recent development surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including agreements reached during talks in Vienna and St. Petersburg.
“Armenia is also an active advocate for peace and stability in our region, and it has always stood for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh issue, which is the most vital issue we face. On May 16 in Vienna a meeting took place with the high representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, namely the U.S. Secretary of State, Russian Foreign Minister and French State Secretary for European Affairs, which resulted in their Joint Statement that reiterated that there could be no military solution to the conflict, and further underlined the importance of respecting the 1994 agreement on ceasefire and 1995 agreement on consolidation of the ceasefire regime, both of which were unconditional,” said Sarkisian.
“Meanwhile, the Statement also registered introduction of the OSCE investigative mechanism to record the violations of the ceasefire and expansion of the capabilities of the existing office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. These approaches were further consolidated in the statement adopted by the trilateral meeting held in Saint Petersburg with the participation of the Presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan,” added Sarkisian.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian echoed similar sentiments while speaking to reporters in Warsaw, saying that Baku was reluctant to allow the OSCE to investigate ceasefire violations and send more monitors around Karabakh. This was a main provision of an agreement negotiated by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group chairing countries, France, Russia, the US, during a meeting between Aliyev and Sarkisian in Vienna in May. These principles were reiterated during a follow-up presidential summit in St. Petersburg last month.
These measures were introduced to strengthen the Karabakh ceasefire regime, which has seen an uptick in violations since Azerbaijan brutally attacked Karabakh in April.
“Azerbaijan is making attempts to backtrack on those agreements, pretending that they were not reached in the first place,” Nalbandian told reporters in Warsaw. “This, despite the fact that the three mediating countries made clear in their joint statement issued as a result of the [May 16] summit in Vienna that the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents agreed to put in place such a mechanism [for investigations of armed incidents.]”
Nalbandian said that the implementation of these measures was the main point of discussion on Friday during a meeting between Sarkisian and Secretary of State John Kerry, who also met separately with Aliyev.
Soon after the meeting in St. Petersburg, where the president agreed to implement the confidence-building measures and issued an announcement, Aliyev backtracked on Baku’s pledge.