About the NKR Office
NKR Representative in USA
Office Staff
Position Papers
Artsakh Newsletter
Press Releases
Events and Speeches
Visa and Travel Information
Contact Us
Country Overview
National Assembly
NKR Army
State Symbols
NKR Constitution
National Holidays
Mass Media
Travel, Tourism & General Info
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
NKR Representations Abroad
10 Reasons to Invest in Artsakh
A Word from the Prime Minister
Economic Reforms
Tax Policies & Investments
Finances, Banks, Foreign Trade
Food Processing
Energy Production
Doing Business in Karabakh
Water and Sanitation
Health Care
Landmine Clearance
Schools, Culture and Sport
Landslide and Flood Prevention
Road Infrastructure
Civil Society Development
Daily News
NKR Office's Press Releases
Artsakh Newsletter
Articles and Interviews
NKR Position
Brief History
Legal Folder
US Responce and Involvement
Chronology of Key Events
The Karabagh File
The Black Garden
The Sumgait Tragedy
Ethnic Cleansing In Progress
The Caucasian Knot
More(in MS Word format)
Blueprint for Resolution
Link and Other Materials
Nagorno Karabakh until 1918
Nagorno Karabakh in 1918-20
Establishment of Soviet Rule
Azerbaijans Discrimination
Struggle for Freedom 1923-88
Developments of 1988-90
Sumgait Massacre of 1988
Ethnic Cleansing Campaigns
Declaration of Independence
Armed Conflict 1991-94
Islamic Mercenaries in NK War
1990 USSR Law on Secession
OSCE Minsk Conference
The Cease-Fire Agreement
Prospects for Peace
Current Developments
Why is there a conflict?
Parties to the Conflict
Independence or Reunification?
Nation Building
Controlled Territories

Overview of Negotiations
on the Peaceful Settlement of the Karabakh Conflict

Brief Overview

The military-political conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan, which dates back to 1918, resumed in 1988 and gradually escalated into an armed confrontation. This happened during the collapse of the Soviet Union, when new independent states emerged in the South Caucasus. Besides regional powers, such as Russia and Iran, the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) assumed the role of the mediator in the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

In September 1991, President of Russia Boris Yeltsin and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev volunteered to mediate the conflict. After their trip to Stepanakert, negotiation took place among the representatives of Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia in the town of Zheleznovodsk (Russian Federation) on September 23, 1991. A communique was signed on the results of the meeting.

In the period of February-May 1992 an Iranian mediating team was present in the region. In the framework of that mediating effort, the Iranian Foreign Minister A. Velaeti and Deputy Foreign Minister M. Vaezi visited the region. On May 8, 1992 on the level of the highest leadership of Armenia and Azerbaijan and representatives of Iran and Russia a joint communiqué was signed in Tehran. However, the escalation of military actions in the region and absence of Nagorno Karabakh representatives in Tehran did not allow the implementation of the terms of the agreement.

CSCE made its first contacts with conflict sides in March of 1992. The First Supplementary Meeting of the CSCE Council (Helsinki, March 24, 1992) decided to convene a conference on Nagorno Karabakh under the auspices of the CSCE in Minsk (Belorussia), which would "provide a permanently active forum for negotiations to achieve peaceful settlement to the crises". Besides Armenia, Azerbaijan, Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey and the United States, the Council decided to invite the elected representatives, i.e. the legitimate Nagorno Karabakh authorities to the Conference as an interested party. It is important to note that the decision to invite Nagorno Karabakh representatives was taking place during the time when the NKR was under siege with its population on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. The first Chairman of the Minsk Conference Mario Rafaelli (Italy) revealed that the subject of negotiations itself was under the threat of annihilation. (mentioned in a letter of Rafaelli to the Acting Chairman of the CSCE dated September 23, 1992).

The absence of a defined negotiating status of Nagorno Karabakh allowed dual interpretation of the rights and responsibilities of the Nagorno Karabakh side. Even today, this aspect hinders the effectiveness of the peace effort.

This position of the CSCE Council was distorting the essence of the problem while Nagorno Karabakh authorities demanded explicitness. Due to this, the NKR delegation was not present during the first sessions of the Minsk Group (MG), which were dedicated to the organization of the Minsk Conference. NKR representatives participated in the third session in Rome, having only one item on their agenda - the status of their participation. Subsequently, the Minsk Group worked regularly, until its "Renewed Schedule of Measures" of September 28, 1993 was supported by the sides to the conflict.

After the decision was made to create the Minsk Group on March 26, 1992, the UN Security Council decided not to participate in any peace effort on Nagorno Karabakh, voicing support for the CSCE.

During the course of mediations, the UN Security Council (SC) passed several resolutions in support of the CSCE, namely:

UN SC resolution No.822 of 04/29/93
UN SC resolution No.853 of 06/29/93
UN SC resolution No.874 of 10/14/93
UN SC resolution No.884 of 11/11/93

UN resolutions qualify the forces that took control of some Azerbaijani regions as "local Armenian forces", thus refuting official Baku's statements about the involvement of the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia in those operations. Besides, the mentioned above UN SC documents call for comprehensive measures and simultaneous solution of the existing problems (withdrawal of armed forces, restoration of economic relations, energy cooperation and transport routes in the region, return of displaced persons, negotiations in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and direct contacts between the sides with a purposes of reaching the final solution to the problem).

During March-December 1994, the peace process was mediated by Russia on the level of consultations of experts from Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia. This strained Russia's relations with the OSCE. An understanding was reached during the CSCE Budapest summit (December 1994), where a decision was made to consolidate Russia's and CSCE's mediating efforts.

The participants of the summit decided to create the Co-Chairmanship of the Minsk Conference and the Minsk Group, where Russia would have a status of a permanent Co-Chairman. In 1995 along with Russia the Minsk process was co-chaired by Sweden and in 1996 by Finland. In the beginning of 1997 a tripartite co-chairmanship was introduced involving Russia, the United States and France.

Minsk group mediated consultations resumed in January of 1995 and were practically sabotaged by the OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe) Acting Chairman's statement about principles of settlement. The statement was made under Azerbaijani delegation blackmail, which threatened to veto the entire final document of the OSCE Lisbon Summit in December of 1996.

Only once after the Lisbon summit the sides assembled for consultations - in April 1997. From May 1997, the peace process was sustained only by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen's shuttle diplomacy between the capitals of Baku, Stepanakert and Yerevan, which had a purpose to coordinate basis for the resumption of negotiations.

Main stages of the peace process

Moscow, Setpember 1993 — The CSCE Minsk Group proposes the "Schedule of urgent measures to implement UN Security Council Resolution No. 822" to the sides, in which Nagorno Karabakh appears as a side to the conflict for the first time. The UN Security Council Resolution No. 874 of October 14 1993 recommended OSCE Minsk Group's "Schedule of urgent measures" to the sides, and thus, reaffirming recognition of Nagorno Karabakh as a side to the conflict.

Bishkek meeting, May 1994 — During the Bishkek meeting (May 4-5 1994) of parliament speakers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh, the sides sign the Bishkek Protocol, which laid ground for the subsequent cease-fire agreement. The Cease-fire Agreement entered force on May 12, 1994. The identical texts of the agreement were signed by the Defense Minister of Armenia, Defense Minister of Azerbaijan and the Commander of the NKR Defense Army.

Budapest summit of CSCE, December 1994 — According to the decision of the summit, the mediating efforts of Russia and CSCE were unified at the summit and the Co-Chairmanship of the Minsk Conference and the Minsk Group was introduced. The participating states welcomed the affirmation of the cease-fire agreement reached on May 12 1994 by the sides to the conflict (Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia) and announced their readiness to introduce multinational CSCE peacekeeping forces after the agreement on termination of the conflict is reached by the sides. (An agreement was reached about the creation of the High Level Planning Group of the OSCE.)

During the OSCE Lisbon summit in December 1996, the Acting Chairman made a statement about the principles of Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement, which, if adopted, would have practically predetermined the results of the negotiations. The statement of the OSCE Acting Chairman sabotaged the negotiating process among the parties to the conflict. The consultations on the basis for negotiations between the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group and the governments of Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia continued.

May 1997 — The OSCE Minsk Conference Co-Chairmanship proposed a new basis for resumption of negotiations. The plan was accepted by Armenia and Azerbaijan, but rejected by Nagorno Karabakh.

September 1997 — The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen proposed a stage-by-stage plan for conflict settlement. The plan was accepted by Azerbaijan and Armenia but was rejected by Nagorno Karabakh. The NKR authorities were insisting on the package plan of conflict settlement. The acceptance of the stage-by-stage plan as a basis for settlement lead to an internal political crisis in Armenia. As a result of which President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosian resigned in the beginning of 1998 and the Prime Minister of Armenia Robert Kocharian won the extraordinary elections.

November 1988 — The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen proposed a new basis for negotiations, which envisaged a comprehensive settlement of the problem by unconditional resumption of negotiations. Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia accepted this proposal, while Azerbaijan rejected it.

NKR-Azerbaijan bilateral negotiations

September 15 1992 — Contacts between the representatives of Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh in Moscow.

July 28 1993 — Martakert region Contact Line. Meeting of government delegations of NKR and Azerbaijan, headed by the Chairman of the NKR Self-Defense Committee S.Sargsian and Azerbaijani Republic State Minister I.Aliyev. Apart from the military persons, representatives of Ministries of Foreign and Internal Affairs were also in the delegation.

September 12-13 1993 — Moscow. Negotiations between the Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council (parliament) of Azerbaijani Republic A. Jalilov and NKR Foreign Affairs Minister A. Ghoukasian. A joint communique was adopted.

September 25 1993 — Aghdam region Contact Line. Meeting between the Vice Prime Ministers of NKR and Azerbaijan (Zh.Poghosian - A.Abbasov).

September 25 1993 — Moscow. Meeting of top leaders of Azerbaijan and NKR.

Summer-Fall 1993 — Regular telephone communication between Baku and Stepanakert on the level of military and political leadership of the sides.

* It should be noted that the Azerbaijani authorities were always the initiators of the bilateral contacts. However, in December 1993, the Azerbaijani side severed all relations with the leadership of NKR and launched a massive offensive against Karabakh along the entire Line of Contact.

734 15th Street, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005
tel: (202) 481-3341, e-mail: info@nkrusa.org