However, now that the conflict is over and long-awaited peace has come to the South Caucasus, the organization keeps trying to wake up from its years-long hibernation and do the region a disservice, as if not realizing that the Minsk Group has long been relegated to the ash heap of history and any attempt to revive it is doomed to failure.
With Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War, our country regained control over its sovereign territories, and now the region needs to recover, all the while maintaining peace. Therefore, in these circumstances, the co-chairs’ proposals about some kind of mediation and “assistance” (we have seen this assistance already) are completely irrelevant, because Azerbaijan, having invited Armenia to sign a peace treaty, is quite capable of doing everything on its own. Azerbaijan’s position on the Minsk Group has been repeatedly and clearly articulated at the highest level.
For example, speaking at the Baku Conference of the Parliamentary Network of the Non-Aligned Movement at the end of July this year, President Ilham Aliyev stated one simple and irrefutable fact: the Minsk Group became a tool in the hands of those wishing to protract the conflict indefinitely.
“Azerbaijan was one of the countries facing the greatest injustice in the world. Armenia’s occupation of 20 percent of our territory resulted in ethnic cleansing. One million Azerbaijanis became refugees and displaced persons. Our historical and religious heritage was wiped off the face of the earth by Armenian occupants. Those who visit liberated territories today can witness the fruits of their barbarism and vandalism. The desecration of our mosques, the destruction of cultural and religious sites are all facts, and no one can fail to see that. No matter how pro-Armenian forces may try to prove otherwise, they fail, because thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people, including foreign guests, politicians, heads and members of parliaments, journalists, experts and ordinary people, have already visited the liberated territories,” the head of state reminded the participants of the Baku conference.
President Ilham Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan had put an end to the Karabakh conflict, restoring justice and the rule of international law: “We waited for this for many years, almost 30 years. We waited for the international community to help us end the injustice and occupation. For that purpose, in 1992 the OSCE established the Minsk Group, which was supposed to find a way to settle the conflict. That is to say, the occupation was to be ended. Instead, the Minsk Group became a tool in the hands of those wishing to protract the conflict indefinitely. Today, when Azerbaijan has resolved the conflict, put an end to the occupation and restored its territorial integrity through political and military means, there is no need for the Minsk Group. We have already said goodbye to it. Unfortunately, Armenia and others are trying to revive it. But it is impossible. It is already dead. We are openly declaring this as the country that suffered from the occupation. I believe that any speculations about the OSCE Minsk Group are not only counterproductive, but also destructive for possible peace in the region,” the head of state said, pointing to the mistakes of the organization.
But this is not all. Before the Baku conference, two of the three co-chair countries admitted that the Minsk Group format was no longer acceptable. France said it in April, and later, in June, so did Russia.
France acknowledges the reality
On April 27, the website of the French Foreign Ministry published the news that Brice Roquefeuil, the French Co-Chair of the Group, would pay an official visit to Baku. However, his position was not mentioned at all and he visited our country as France’s ambassador for EU Eastern Partnership. In other words, the worthlessness of the OSCE Minsk Group was confirmed by the French Foreign Ministry as well. The release also said that France welcomed the recent phone conversation between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as the decision to convene a bilateral commission on border issues and continue negotiations on a peace treaty: “France will continue to give its full support to this process.” Roquefeuil was then received in and seen off from Baku and there has been no word from France since then. That is, the new realities created by Azerbaijan were also accepted there.
RF states the facts
With Russia, it was quick. On June 24, while on a visit to Baku, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that now was the period of post-conflict settlement, and the OSCE Minsk Group had ceased to exist. “We do not discuss the Minsk Group in principle because it has ceased to exist. But we have certainly discussed post-conflict settlement processes. The basis for these new processes lies in the three trilateral statements by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Essentially, after the events of September-October, and November 2020, the events on the ground put behind us all the groundwork that we had, and that had been discussed for many years without visible results. This is simply the objective reality. The three statements signed by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia are now universally recognized as the basis for moving toward the final closure of all outstanding issues,” Lavrov said. Basically, the Russian Federation also knows that everything is in the past, and it is time to move forward and think about the future.
This leaves the US (where the Armenian diaspora is very active), who seeks to bring back the old, obsolete format of negotiations. One can understand American politicians, because the reasoning is quite simple here: whoever wants to come to power in this co-chair country (as well as in France), tries to please Armenians, whose numbers can help to win extra votes in a race for an office. It is a sad fact that the politicians of this country have become toys in the hands of the Armenian lobby. In France, by the way, this Armenian scheme partially failed: Macron stayed in power but never kept the promises he had made to the Armenians, because those promises were simply not feasible. But there are always absurd statements and unnecessary proposals coming from Washington, where corrupt Armenian-bought politicians have taken root in the Congress. In particular, in late August, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken appointed diplomat Philip Reeker Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations. “Ambassador Reeker will engage bilaterally, with like-minded partners such as the European Union, and through his role as an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, to facilitate direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Blinken said.
The question is, why? The OSCE Minsk Group and its advisors are not needed for direct dialogue. This is why it is called direct dialogue. We know exactly what we want and what is needed for the prosperity of the region. We do not need this clumsy assistance, and Armenia is the only troublemaker here, and with each passing day it has fewer and fewer ways to get in the way thanks to President Ilham Aliyev’s continuing diplomatic triumphs. It is important to understand that attempts to “resuscitate” the practically defunct Minsk Group may distance the United States from the process of normalization of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations. The Karabakh conflict has been resolved, and Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan. The whole world recognizes this fact, except for resentful Yerevan. America must realize that tying talks on the normalization of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations to the Karabakh issue does not contribute to normalization in any way. The sentence on the OSCE Minsk Group was passed a long time ago, and even Armenia knows the text of that sentence very well. Any speculations on this topic are not only counterproductive but also destructive for possible peace in the region.
One more argument
There has not been a single visit of the full OSCE Minsk Group to Baku since the end of the 44-day war. Furthermore, there have been several meetings between President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, brokered by President of the European Council Charles Michel. And not a single statement on the importance of reviving the OSCE Minsk Group was made following these meetings. Moreover, the Armenians of the world are now whining that nobody is even talking about the “status” of the Karabakh Armenians anymore. The EU press release regarding the August 31, 2022 meeting contains no mention of the OSCE Minsk Group, autonomy of the Armenian population of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, and the term “Nagorno Karabakh” is not used at all.
So, today, when Azerbaijan has resolved the conflict, put an end to the occupation and restored its territorial integrity through political and military means, there is no need for the Minsk Group. We have already said goodbye to it. We all have seen in these thirty years that its only goal was to freeze the conflict and keep the Azerbaijani lands under perpetual occupation.
The co-chairs should have based their activities on the inviolable principles of international law and the UN Charter on the territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, showing Armenia that no maneuvering or interpretation would be tolerated in this matter. This would surely have signaled the need for agreement. However, time has proved that Azerbaijan was right: the Azerbaijani leadership warned both Armenia and the co-chairs long before the Second Karabakh war that if the occupied Azerbaijani territories could not be liberated peacefully, other possible ways of resolving the conflict would be used. This is what happened in November 2020, when Azerbaijan’s brilliant military victory ended the occupation, making it possible for nearly 1 million refugees to return to their historical homeland. In short, after the Second Karabakh War, the OSCE Minsk Group has become utterly useless.
Translated from Day.Az