R. Bradtke: “It is the parties themselves that have to make what are very difficult decisions”

I think the Minsk Group has done three important things. First of all, it has helped be a factor for stability. It has helped defuse tensions. It has helped prevent the outbreak of another war, and when cease-fire violations occur — and they have occurred throughout this period, since 1994 — it has helped ensure that those cease-fire violations do not escalate into something more serious. 

The second thing the Minsk Group has done is be a channel for communication between and among the parties. The parties don’t have the capability, necessarily, to talk directly to one another. So when we travel to the region or when we meet the leaders outside the region, we hear their views and we can convey those views to the other party in a way that helps them, perhaps, to understand each other better. 

And the third thing that was part of our mandate that we have done in this period is to develop a common basis for negotiation. In the past five years in particular, that has been the focus of the work of the co-chairs — to develop this framework document, called the Basic Principles”. US co-chair of the OSCE MG Robert Bradtke told about this during the interview with Radio Liberty answering to the question the OSCE MG achievements during the past 20 years. 

Bradtke noted that they haveworked very hard with the parties to try to develop the framework document. “We haven’t succeeded yet. But I point to the statement that the Presidents ofArmeniaandAzerbaijanwhen they were inSochiin January of this year with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, when they expressed readiness to accelerate work on this document.

Answering to the question whether those achievements mean that Armenia and Azerbaijan are closer to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute today than they were on March 24, 1992, Bradtke said:I think there’s no question we’re closer today than we were 20 years ago. I think the sides understand the basic elements of what a settlement should look like. They’ve articulated, and we’ve articulated with them, elements that are captured by the presidents in the joint statements they made at the summits inL’Aquila, in Muskoka, and last year inDeauville. Those elements, I think, are clearer now than they’ve ever been and do represent real progress over where we were in 1992 or in 1994, when the cease-fire came into effect.

Referring to the lessons of the OSCE MG during the passed 20 years the diplomat said:I think one of the important lessons of the Minsk Group is the importance of the international community assisting the parties. I think what we’ve seen, particularly in the last several years, is even more close cooperation among the co-chairs, which enables us to speak with one voice to the parties. I think that’s a very important lesson. We have right now very close cooperation among theUnited States,France, and Russiain working with the parties.

The second lesson: We’ve seen — as we’ve had both high hopes and periods of disappointment in this time, Key West in 2001, where the United States took the lead; we had Rambouillet in 2006, where France had the lead; we had Kazan in 2011, where Russia had the lead — different periods of time when different members of the co-chair team took the lead. But ultimately, at the end of the day, one of the lessons is that it’s up to the parties.

The parties aren’t making peace with the co-chairs. The co-chairs can provide ideas, we can offer suggestions, and we can provide encouragement. But fundamentally, it is the parties themselves that have to make what are very difficult decisions.

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