Monday, 04 January 2016

Draft PACE resolutions rock the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process

Published in Field Reports

By Erik Davtyan

January 4th, the CACI Analyst

In November 2015, two different committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted draft resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which received strong criticism in Armenia and several other states. On November 4, the Political Affairs Committee of PACE approved a draft resolution on “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” which was proposed by Robert Walter from the European Conservatives Group. The draft resolution calls for “the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces and other irregular armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the establishment of full sovereignty of Azerbaijan in these territories.” It also calls for “the establishment by the OSCE of an international peacekeeping force to maintain security within Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories.”


 pace-nk-15The draft resolution, which will be discussed during PACE’s January session in 2016, provoked an outrage in Armenia and was criticized by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. On November 6, U.S. Co-Chair of the Minsk Group James Warlick wrote on his Twitter page that “PACE and other international organizations should consult with the OSCE Co-Chairs before issuing reports or resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh.” Another statement was issued jointly by the three Co-Chairs (James Warlick, Pierre Andrieu and Igor Popov), stating that “attempts to change the format or create parallel mechanisms can disrupt the negotiation process and impede progress towards a settlement.” Russian authorities also reacted negatively to the draft resolution. During his visit to Yerevan on November 9, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov underlined that the format of the OSCE Minsk Co-Chairmanship is the only authorized collective mediator, and declared that “whatever drastic actions, undertaken by whoever, only harm the process and the Co-Chairs’ activities.”

As to Armenia’s reaction, in an interview to the Aravot daily, Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian emphasized the fact that Walter was a member of the so-called Friends of Azerbaijan in the British Parliament, which according to British media is largely financed by Baku. Nalbandian concluded that “this may be the very reason why Walter rushed to present [the resolution], two days before the completion of his mission in the capacity of a PACE member.”

In turn, Azerbaijani authorities welcomed the adoption of the draft resolution and expressed their dissatisfaction with the comments by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The spokesman of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hikmet Hajiev stated that “as the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group have not achieved even slight progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, James Warlick has no right and reason to advise and recommend other organizations anything regarding the conflict settlement.”

On November 23, PACE’s Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development adopted a draft resolution, entitled “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water.” According to that document, “the occupation by Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh and other adjacent areas of Azerbaijan creates humanitarian and environmental problems for the citizens of Azerbaijan living in the Lower Karabakh valley.” Moreover, the committee concluded that the Armenian side has not performed maintenance on the Sarsang reservoir, therefore it “poses a danger to the whole border region.”

Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shavarsh Kocharyan said that this document is “only a grist for the mill of Azerbaijan’s propaganda machine and is in line with the logistics of Baku’s policy of undermining the negotiation process”. Kocharyan also stated that “some PACE parliamentarians intentionally or unintentionally are becoming tools of the Azerbaijani propaganda, and, by their vote distorting the reality, they first of all are discrediting themselves and trying to shadow the PACE authority.”

Though neither draft document is legally binding, Azerbaijan will certainly seek to interpret the two documents as a diplomatic victory. As the Azerbaijani side regularly declares that the OSCE Minsk Group is counterproductive, Azerbaijani authorities will also use this occasion as an argument in favor of that point, thereby undermining the present format of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.

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