OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza has kindly agreed to give an interview to NEWS.am on current stage and prospects of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement as a result of recently published Madrid Principles.
Q: Mr. Bryza, on which of the published Madrid Principles Armenian and Azerbaijani sides fully agreed, on which – not?
A: It would be inappropriate for me to specify the sides' views on individual elements of the Basic Principles, especially given that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The Basic Principles have never been published in detail or in their entirety.
But, the fact sheet accompanying the joint declaration of Presidents Obama, Sarkozy, and Medvedev on July 10, 2009 outlines the fundamental concepts of the framework agreement outlined by the Basic Principles. I believe this fundamental framework is acceptable to the sides. The Co-Chairs are working intensively with the sides to finalize agreement on the remaining details associated with this fundamental framework.
The framework outlined by the Basic Principles is fair and workable. It is the product of over four years of negotiations. Former President Kocharian and Foreign Minister Oskanian deserve considerable credit for their creative approach to the negotiations while they were in government. They helped lay the foundation for the intensive talks that have followed and for the agreement on the Basic Principles that we are now approaching. President Sargsian and Foreign Minister Nalbandian have made major contributions over the past year in narrowing the remaining differences between the sides. These have been tough negotiations, with each side defending its national interests with intensity and skill, but nevertheless finding a way forward. Nobody is applying pressure to the parties. Rather, Yerevan and Baku are challenging each other while advancing the negotiations.
Q: Why the point on NKR status does not contain the word “referendum”, but say “legally binding expression of will”? Do you see a difference between those terms, if yes, please specify.
A: I do not see any difference between “referendum,” “plebiscite,” or “legally binding expression of will.” These are all euphemisms.
Q: Do you think Karabakh will become an independent constituent territory as a result of the expression of this will?
A: It would be inappropriate for me to predict the outcome of the negotiating process that lies ahead to determine the modalities of the vote on Karabakh's final legal status, and even more difficult to comment on the possible outcome of the vote itself.
The main point is, we are moving closer to finalizing the Basic Principles, which outline a peace settlement that balances the Helsinki Final Act principles of non-use of force, self-determination, and territorial integrity.
Q: At whose will or demand Karabakh was left out of negotiations? When did it happen and when Karabakh is likely to re-join the talks?
A: Back in 1998, Armenia's previous leadership decided to negotiate on behalf of Karabakh rather than have Karabakhi authorities at the table.
Karabakhi authorities will return to direct participation in Minsk Group talks when Baku and Yerevan reach agreement on this important issue. We Co-Chairs anticipate this occurring around the time the Basic Principles are finalized.
That said, the views of Karabakhi authorities are already an important element of the Minsk Group process. The Co-Chairs regularly solicit these views and always keep them in mind during our formal negotiations. We realize it will be impossible to achieve a lasting agreement if that agreement does not address the concerns and protect the core interests of the people who live in Nagorno Karabakh. This is matter of logic and morality.
Q: Based on Madrid Principles, what territories will be returned to Azerbaijan and in what sequence? What will Armenian side get in return?
A: As President Aliyev recently noted on Russian television, the Basic Principles foresee the return to Azerbaijan's control of all seven territories surrounding Nagorno Karabakh, with five or six returning immediately, and one or two returning a bit later. This delay reflects the security sensitivities of the people living in Nagorno Karabakh.
Q: After Armenian troops’ withdrawal what regime will be established in those territories, who will bring of troops and with what armament? Whether Azerbaijani police return to those territories is possible and with what armament?
A: There will be an international peacekeeping force in the territories. In addition, law enforcement capabilities will need to be in place to provide security, protect human rights, and uphold the rule of law for all persons, regardless of ethnicity, in all seven territories and in Nagorno Karabakh.
Q: Till the final determination of NKR status, which interim status it will have? Does it imply any connection with Azerbaijani authorities and if yes, what in particular?
A: Negotiations are still underway to define the “interim status” Nagorno Karabakh will require when the final peace agreement is signed. Our goal is to maintain the status quo, which means the people who live in Nagorno Karabakh must feel secure and must govern all aspects of their lives, including all political, economic, legal, and cultural elements.
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