The biggest problem of the OSCE Minsk Group (MG) is that it tries not to hurt anyone in the issue of settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azad Garibov, a leading research fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies (SAM) in Azerbaijan and editor-in-chief of Istanbul-based quarterly academic journal ‘Caucasus International’, wrote in his article in the US international affairs magazine ‘The National Interest’.
The conflict between the 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 Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
The OSCE MG tries to seem neutral, and this near-obsession with neutrality does not allow it to be fair and impartial, Garibov wrote in his article. It is claimed that openly naming Armenia as an aggressor country and calling for the fulfillment of UN Security Council resolutions-which entails unconditional withdrawal of forces from Nagorno-Karabakh-might discredit the OSCE MG in the eyes of Armenian side, said the article.
However, it does not mean that OSCE can play this game of neutrality over justice forever, the article said.
“The Minsk Group’s co-chairs avoid making clear-cut statements about their positions on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” said the article. “They avoid bringing up the fact of occupation; they make general and vague statements at best, or indeed make contradictory declarations depending on whether they are in Baku or Yerevan.”
However, when there is need for a firm position, the co-chairs state that Armenia and Azerbaijan should find a solution themselves since it is their problem, and that the OSCE MG will support any decision they make, Garibov wrote.
The lack of interest and consequent lack of commitment on the part of the OSCE MG co-chair countries to the resolution process is another visible setback, the article said.
In fact, the OSCE MG co-chair countries represent the key global power centers (assuming France’s informal representation of the EU), Garibov wrote.
Thus, if willing, they have the necessary geopolitical weight to pressure the aggressor to compromise, which would eventually bring about a long-awaited and greatly overdue breakthrough in the peace process, the article said.