Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
ArmInfo’s interview with Vice President of the Russian Association of Diplomats, the former Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group (1992-1996), Ambassador Vladimir Kazimirov
by David Stepanyan
Has the statement made by the heads of delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Clinton, and Minister Delegate for European Affairs of France Bernard Cazeneuve in Dublin on Dec 6-7 brought any changes to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks?
Despite the commitment of the three OSCE Minsk Group co-chair states to continue their efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, one can hardly say that the years-long Nagorno-Karabakh peace process has been changed in any way. It is not good to see that both conflicting parties avoided joining the statement and believes that the mediators should have been tougher on them. What they are saying today is that the use of military force would not be a solution to the conflict but isn't it time for them to be tougher and to say that this is inadmissible? Even though the number of incidents on the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and threats by the Azeri leaders has recently decreased, this may well be just a pause caused by Baku's blunder in the Ramil Safarov case, which is one more proof that the incidents and the threats are not a coincidence but a policy. On the whole, one should not expect any breakthroughs from forums like the one in Dublin in view of the fact that the whole peace process is developing under abnormal conditions. What this process is aimed at is settling the conflict peacefully, but its key preconditions - peace and no use of force - are not being guaranteed in any way. Some people complain that as many as 20 years of talks have given no result. And they will not until the parties come to a common understanding that this goal can be achieved by peaceful means only.
Ukraine, who will take the helm of the OSCE in 2013, says that among its priorities as OSCE Chair will be settling conflicts and building confidence in the OSCE as well as ensuring energy security and a dialogue on ways to control conventional armed forces in Europe. Almost all of these issues have direct or indirect relation to the South Caucasus. Can one call ambiguous Ukraine’s reputation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict considering the fact that for many years already it has been Azerbaijan’s strategic partner and has supplied it with arms?
You have already answered your question. OSCE chairmanship is a highly obliging position. So, let's see what is stronger: this obligation or the force of inertia.
In all of his post-Dublin meetings Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov kept telling foreign diplomats that the Armenians do not want any progress in the peace talks. His argument was an article in the Azerbaijani press alleging that the Armenian President had rejected the co-chairs’ initiative to arrange his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Paris in Dec 2012. Do such frame-ups fit into the realities of the peace process and what are they aimed at?
These propaganda pirouettes have already annoyed everybody. We all perfectly remember for how long Baku pretended that it accepted the Madrid principles and blamed Armenia for not doing it. But then came the moment of truth - the meeting of the Armenian, Azeri and Russian presidents in Kazan - and it became clear for whom the principles were actually unacceptable and who needed as many as ten changes to them.
Some people in Azerbaijan believe that the Russians are pressuring their country in its energy policy, which is reflected in the Kremlin’s stance on the forthcoming election of the Azerbaijani President. Do you agree with this opinion?
Russia and Azerbaijan are big suppliers of oil and gas to other countries and could cooperate rather than compete in this field. I think it is early to speak about the forthcoming presidential election in Azerbaijan. Sometimes, political experts and journalists make early forecasts just not be forgotten.
Europe is facing a new parade of sovereignties: Scotland, Catalonia, the Flanders... Can this new European reality bring any changes in the peace processes in the post-Soviet area, particularly, in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process?
Everybody perfectly remembers Azerbaijan's position on the referendum on the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azeri authorities refused to accept its results, referring to their constitution, where, specially for the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, they had added an article saying that in Azerbaijan referendums should be held on a nationwide basis only. Meanwhile, the world experience has long been known: the referendum on Quebec's status was conducted in Quebec only rather than all over Canada, and there are some other examples as well. So, let's see who will vote should things come to referendums in the cases you have mentioned. Will it be the whole of the United Kingdom, Spain or Belgium? I am afraid Azerbaijan's Constitution may prove to look 'ultra democratic' against this background.