US Minsk Group Co-Chair Says ‘Occupied Territories Must Be Returned to Azerbaijan’
US Minsk Group Co-Chair James Warlick (Source: Public Radio of Armenia)
YEREVAN (ARKA)—In an interview with Russian daily Vedomosti, the US Co-Chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick said that the “occupied” territories of Azerbaijan must be returned to Azeri control as part of a comprehensive settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Warlick said that conflicting sides should not focus on just one element or principle of the settlement. Territories must be returned, but there are other factors involved, which is why the co-chairs advocate a comprehensive settlement, said Warlick.
“We need to consider a peaceful settlement in its entirety,” he said.
Warlick said security guarantees are an element of the settlement, which would include the deployment of international peacekeeping forces—either UN or OSCE. Who would provide the peacekeeping troops should be negotiated and decided by the parties “to ensure the security of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Warlick said that Washington does not back a specific settlement option, and that if the parties agree to the deployment and the format of a peacekeeping contingent, the US is ready to support that option.
“But we are not discussing this issue now. We are talking about different versions of security guarantees, as they can be, but so far we have not reached the point where we can talk about the formation of the peacekeeping forces,” Warlick said.
He said that the OSCE has a group responsible for high-level planning in order to develop options for peacekeeping operations.
“This group of military experts already has a number of pre-defined options that are regularly updated. Their work may serve as a starting point for the engagement of the international peacekeeping force,” said Warlick.
According to Warlick 2014 turned out to be a very dangerous year, claming both military and civilian lives on both sides, while January of this year proved to be one of the most dangerous months in the last 20 years with a large number of casualties.
“So there is every reason to fear that the conflict could expand. This can also occur as a result of miscalculation, and also because of an armed clash. Therefore, it is important to work together to find a negotiated solution to the conflict and ensure compliance with the cease-fire,” said Warlick.
Warlick also stressed that the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement is not an area where Washington sees problems in relations with Russia.
“On the contrary, this is an area where we work through diplomatic channels to reach an amicable settlement. And we will continue to do so,” said Warlick.