Spe­cial Rep: EU may co­op­er­ate with Azer­bai­jan's Plat­form for Peace

Azer News - - Front Page - By Rashid Shiri­nov

The Euro­pean Union does not ex­clude the pos­si­bil­ity of co­op­er­a­tion with the Azer­bai­jan-Ar­me­nia Plat­form for Peace, ini­ti­ated by Azer­bai­jan, EU Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the South Cau­ca­sus Her­bert Sal­ber, who has com­pleted his visit to Azer­bai­jan, told Trend on April 21.

The Euro­pean Union does not ex­clude the pos­si­bil­ity of co­op­er­a­tion with the Azer­bai­jan-Ar­me­nia Plat­form for Peace, ini­ti­ated by Azer­bai­jan, EU Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the South Cau­ca­sus Her­bert Sal­ber, who has com­pleted his visit to Azer­bai­jan, told Trend on April 21.

He said that the Azer­bai­jan-Ar­me­nia Peace Plat­form is at the very be­gin­ning of its ac­tiv­i­ties.

“I met yes­ter­day one of the pro­mot­ers of the plat­form. I am open for con­tacts. I will try to un­der­stand what this plat­form is about,” Sal­ber noted.

The Ar­me­nia-Azer­bai­jan Plat­form for Peace was founded in De­cem­ber 2016 in Baku by a group of Azer­bai­jani and Ar­me­nian pub­lic fig­ures and peace­keep­ers. It was cre­ated to bring to­gether rep­re­sen­ta­tives of civil so­ci­ety of the two coun­tries for cre­at­ing di­a­logue be­tween Azer­bai­jan and Ar­me­nia, the sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Dur­ing his Baku visit, Sal­ber met with the Azer­bai­jani pres­i­dent, deputy for­eign min­is­ter, and other rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the coun­try’s government and tried to see where the process of the Ar­me­nia-Azer­bai­jan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is now.

“I be­lieve that the NagornoKarabakh conflict should be solved in a peace­ful way, with­out mil­i­tary means what is very im­por­tant,” he said.

Sal­ber re­minded that the EU is not di­rectly in­volved as the me­di­a­tor to the Nagorno-Karabakh res­o­lu­tion process: “We rec­og­nize that this is the pre­rog­a­tive of the OSCE Minsk Group.”

“When I hear crit­i­cism against the OSCE Minsk Group’s ac­tiv­ity, I have to say one thing, the peace deal has to be made be­tween the sides of the conflict,” said Sal­ber, not­ing that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity can only as­sist and make pro­pos­als, but it can­not some­how push two sides into an agree­ment.

He added that a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment is pos­si­ble if the cease­fire is re­spected.

The conflict be­tween two South Cau­ca­sus coun­tries be­gan in 1988 when Ar­me­nia made ter­ri­to­rial claims against Azer­bai­jan. As a re­sult of the en­su­ing war, in 1992 Ar­me­nian armed forces oc­cu­pied 20 per­cent of Azer­bai­jan, in­clud­ing the NagornoKarabakh re­gion and seven sur­round­ing re­gions. More than 20,000 Azer­bai­ja­nis were killed and over 1 mil­lion were dis­placed as a re­sult of the large-scale hos­til­i­ties. The 1994 cease­fire agree­ment was fol­lowed by peace ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ar­me­nia still con­trols fifth part of Azer­bai­jan's ter­ri­tory and re­jects im­ple­ment­ing four UN Security Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions on with­drawal of its armed forces from NagornoKarabakh and sur­round­ing dis­tricts.

As for the EU-Azer­bai­jan re­la­tions, Sal­ber stressed that the re­la­tions are un­doubt­edly at a high level, es­pe­cially af­ter EU’s High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Fed­er­ica Mogherini’s visit to Azer­bai­jan in early 2017 and the agree­ments on con­clud­ing new agree­ments that are be­ing pre­pared in Brussels.

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