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Civil society activists call for more openness and transparency in Karabakh peace negotiations.
03 November 2014

Activists in the ongoing civil society initiative - the Independent Civil Minsk Process, meeting in Helsinki over the last days, have issued an appeal to the political leaderships of the sides involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as to civil society and political and public forces, and have proposed new initiatives to help resolve the conflict.

The appeal states:

"We, together with the other representatives of civil society and experts, in the framework of the Independent Civil Minsk Process (ICMP) Initiative on the resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, signed a Declaration in Tbilisi on December 8, 2010, which called upon the leadership of the parties:
- to refrain from war-like rhetoric, and political and information action aimed at conflict escalation;
- to take urgent measures on securing the ceasefire and preventing armed clashes, and to ensure the immediate withdrawal of snipers from the frontline;
- to add to the basic rules of the conflict resolution (the non-use of force, territorial integrity, equal rights and self-determination of peoples) the principle of "peaceful resolution of disputes" based on the Helsinki Final Act;
- to begin the development of a Road Map of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution.

We deeply regret that the ICMP earlier appeals have not been heard, and at the 20th anniversary of the ceasefire regime, our people are not on the way to a peaceful resolution, the solution of practical problems to restore good neighborly relations and cooperation and regional integration. Unfortunately, currently, we have a deadlocked situation in the official negotiation process, increasing tension on the frontline and an increasing threat of the resumption of large-scale military operations in the light of the processes that have been started in the post-Soviet space.

The conflict already brought a huge disaster including the deaths of ten thousands of people, hundreds of thousands wounded and disabled and more than one million people who lost their homes. The absence of progress in the conflict resolution between our people caused huge problems for the attempts to create social-economic prosperity, a strong civil society as well as a democratic statehood on the principles of the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights.

The current status quo can not continue indefinitely and the efforts to "freeze of the situation" do not work: people are dying from the shooting that takes place almost every day, the area of military incidents is expanding, the arms race is increasing between the conflict sides, while the rhetoric on government and public level is becoming more radical. Further attempts to retain the status quo will inevitably become part of the new dangerous trend in the post-Soviet space, which not only threatens European security, but also the independence and sovereignty of our countries.

In the currently explosive situation, as unprecedented eruption of violence along the contact line in late July and the beginning of August of this year have demonstrated, even minor mistakes of one side of the conflict can be used to impose upon us a new war.

We support the initiative of the co-chairman of OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassador James Warlick from May 7, 2014 outlined in the report called "Nagorno-Karabakh: The Keys to a Settlement" and the Statement of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs from May 12, 2014. This balanced approach reflects the accumulated experience of many years of negotiations and long-term work of the parties of the conflict as well as the previous and present members of OSCE Minsk Group. We believe that the three principles and these six elements are an effective basis for the development of the Peace Agreement within the OSCE Minsk Group and the "road map" for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

We believe that the negotiation process of conflict resolution should be open and transparent for our societies. Thus, we call to convene an international forum with representatives of government and civil society of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict sides together with the representatives of international organizations to support the peace process and its practical implementation.

We support the idea of the use of international peacekeeping forces in the implementation of the Peace Agreement. However, we emphasize that the international forces should neither include the countries serving as co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group, nor the neighboring countries of the conflict sides. To implement these agreed principles, international mediation should be free from any geopolitical interests such as the struggle for spheres of influence and domination over the region.

We appeal to the leadership of co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and to all States with urgent demand to stop the supply of all kinds of offensive weapons in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The peaceful resolution of the armed conflict is only possible when both sides of the conflict are ready for mutual compromise, with reject of maximalist demands and preconditions and a develop perception of shared national interests of our people and when there is a sincere effort by international mediators to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

We appeal to the political leadership of the parties to the conflict, that despite the different interpretations of certain provisions of the principles of the settlement and the existing disagreements on several issues, to urgently start a formulation of a Peace Agreement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the initiative of the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Ambassador James Warlick from May 7, 2014 and the Statement of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs from May 12, 2014.

We call upon civil societies on all sides of the conflict, all political and public forces to become active participants in the peace process, to start searching for necessary compromises, to abandon maximalist demands and to take their share of responsibility in the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

The appeal was signed by David Shahnazaryan, who was Ambassador of the President of the Republic of Armenia on Special Missions from 1992-95; Eldar Namazov, who was Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the head of Presidential Secretariat 1993-99; Arzu Abdullayeva, Chair of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Azerbaijan, holder of Olof Palme Piece Prize, winner of EU and US government Marshall Award; Karen Ohanjanyan, Coordinator of the Nagorno Karabakh Committee “Helsinki Initiative-92”; Natalya Martirosyan, Chair of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Armenia; Ali Abasov, Professor, political analyst; Zardusht Alizadeh, Doctor of philosophy, political analyst; Aghasi Yenokyan, Director of the Armenian Center for political and international relations; Leyla Alieva, Center for National and International Studies, political analyst; and Haykak Arshamyan, Regional Studies Center, historian, political analyst.

 

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