Azerbaijan’s Perspectives on the osce Minsk Group

In: Security and Human Rights
Zaur Shiriyev Academy Associate at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London

Search for other papers by Zaur Shiriyev in
Current site
Google Scholar
Full Access

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (osce) led Minsk Group – the principal mediator tasked with the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, is often criticised by Azerbaijan, due to the stalemate in negotiations. The intensive period of engagement between 2006 and 2009 brought first the initial and then the “updated” Madrid Principles. This was the chief working document that set forth the basic principles for peaceful resolution. The inactivity of the Minsk Group is often conceded as the result of maintaining “minimalist goals” – preventing full scale war and trying to bring conflict parties to the negotiating table. The April war in 2016 tested the fragility of the first goal: preventing skirmishes from leading to larger scale conflict. Similarly, after the April 2016 war, the attempt to revitalise the second goal – i.e. bringing the parties to the negotiating table – also collapsed, due to the increased mistrust between the parties after the war.

The article will evaluate the geopolitical changes and their impact on the Minsk Group’s work since 2008, the reasons for the demands to change the format of the Minsk Group, and finally Azerbaijan’s perspectives on the limitations of the Minsk Group’s current mandate and mechanisms.


The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (osce) led Minsk Group – the principal mediator tasked with the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, is often criticised by Azerbaijan, due to the stalemate in negotiations. The intensive period of engagement between 2006 and 2009 brought first the initial and then the “updated” Madrid Principles. This was the chief working document that set forth the basic principles for peaceful resolution. The inactivity of the Minsk Group is often conceded as the result of maintaining “minimalist goals” – preventing full scale war and trying to bring conflict parties to the negotiating table. The April war in 2016 tested the fragility of the first goal: preventing skirmishes from leading to larger scale conflict. Similarly, after the April 2016 war, the attempt to revitalise the second goal – i.e. bringing the parties to the negotiating table – also collapsed, due to the increased mistrust between the parties after the war.

The article will evaluate the geopolitical changes and their impact on the Minsk Group’s work since 2008, the reasons for the demands to change the format of the Minsk Group, and finally Azerbaijan’s perspectives on the limitations of the Minsk Group’s current mandate and mechanisms.

* Zaur Shiriyev is an Academy Associate at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London. His areas of expertise include security issues and conflict resolution in the post-Soviet space, Turkish foreign policy, and the foreign and national security policies of the South Caucasus states, with an emphasis on the domestic determinants of such policies.


In the last decade, the Minsk Group’s (mg) mediation efforts has seen ups and downs. The peak was the harmonisation of the Co-Chairs’ (us, France and Russia) work, whereby all Co-Chairs were all on the same page and shared the same goal of achieving the basic principles framework for the resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This resulted in the Madrid Principles – the original version put forth in 2007, and the updated version in 2009, which aimed to provide the basic principles for a peace agreement. This represented a breakthrough following the silence since the end of the 1990s, when the Minsk Group produced three diffirent proposals: the ‘package solution’, the ‘step by step solution’ and the ‘common state solution’. Azerbaijan and Armenia could not agree on the same option. The Madrid Principles, unlike the 1990’s conflict resolution proposals, were aimed at substantive talks based on step-by-step agreement on the Basic Principles – thus solving all major problems via the Peace Agreement, and then the implementing the agreement step-by-step. This was a compromise; the implementation of the whole peace agreement will take longer, allowing the conflict sides to build trust, develop communication channels, and move beyond the enmity.

The introduction of the Madrid Principles and ongoing negotiation process led Baku to believe that the process was satisfactory and met expectations for progress on conflict resolution and that tangible results were on the horizon. However, the 2008 Russian-Georgian August War and annexation of Crimea in 2014 affected the Minsk Group’s mediation capabilities. This turn of events changed and weakened the intentions of the Co-Chair countries and their engagement with the negotiations. At the beginning, Russian mediation efforts during 2008–2012, in the trilateral format with Azerbaijan and Armenian Presidents, stimulated the Minsk Group’s work. But by end of 2009, Moscow’s mediation became a parallel process : a unilateral mediation effort separate to the Minsk Group’s activities, effectively paralyzing the role of the Minsk Group’s Co-Chairs to act as a mediating body.

With the end of the Russian “trilateral format” in 2012, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs failed to bring conflict parties to the negotiating table. This led to changes in the “military status-quo” on the ground, namely by increasing the skirmishes between the Azerbaijani and Armenian armies. This resulted in rising disappointment in Azerbaijan, in particular regarding the approach of preserving the “military status-quo”, and waiting for the conflict parties to be ready to negotiate (i.e. putting the responsibility for the status of negotiations on the conflict parties alone). The failure to make efforts to convince the conflict sides to enter into substantive talks – even after the war in April 2016 – was very unsatisfactory to Baku.

The article aims to analyze Azerbaijan’s attitude towards the Minsk Group’s mediation efforts over the last decade, by analyzing the impact of geopolitical changes that effected the Minsk Group’s work and Azerbaijan’s perceptions of such changes. The second part of the paper looks at the rising demands to change the structure of meditation efforts – the Minsk Group’s format, rationale, and perspectives. Finally, the Minsk Group’s work from Azerbaijan’s perspective are assessed, and policy recommendations are provided.

Impact of Geopolitical Transformations on the Cohesion of the Minsk Group’s Mediation Efforts

The August war between Russia and Georgia in 2008 came at a critical point in the Minsk Group’s mediation work. The introduction of the Madrid Principles in 2007 had marked a major achievement with regard to establishing the basic principles for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Following the August war, the initial concern in Azerbaijan emerged from the twin assumptions that the conflict would destroy ties between Russia and the West, and damage the ongoing collaboration of Moscow and Washington. Baku saw the original Madrid Principles of 2007 as a us-backed process, in which Moscow had collaborated. According to Matthew Bryza, 1 former u.s. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia (2005–2009), this process came “from an effort launched from the White House in 2004, which received personal and direct support from then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and by extension, President George W. Bush […] such top-level support was of great assistance in convincing the Russian Foreign Minister and President to play constructive roles”.

The us impetus was in the interest of Azerbaijan at that point, considering Baku’s Westernised approach to foreign policy decision-making at that time, as indicated in the country’s first National Security Concept in 2007. However, the original Madrid Principles did not fully satisfy Baku. The Principles themselves were essential to striking a balance between the Helsinki Final Act’s fundamental principles of the territorial integrity of states, self-determination of peoples, and the non-use of force. For Azerbaijan, the priority was territorial integrity – Baku sought to capitalise on this in the international arena by gaining support from international organisation. This led to tensions with the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, who did not appreciate Azerbaijan’s way of presenting this approach. These tensions emerged following the United Nations General Assembly resolution number S/62/243 in March 2008, which reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the occupied territories. 2 The Minsk Group Co-Chair countries voted against the resolution. Baku was deeply dismayed by this; in response, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Araz Azimov, simply stated that “Azerbaijan will work with [the] Minsk Group [and their proposal] based on the position that has been reaffirmed by United Nations”. 3

However, until the August War, Azerbaijan did not see the differences within the Minsk Group Co-Chairs as a something that could potentially destabilise the mediation process. After the 2008 war, there were initial concerns about Russia’s attitude – the August War was followed by Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, deeply worrisome for Baku. After the war, Russia’s assertiveness in regard to playing a role in conflict resolution was questioned, as it entailed working with the Western Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group. However, these concerns were assuaged via Moscow’s engagement with the peace process at the presidential level. This began with the November 2008 “Moscow Declaration”. The significance of the Azerbaijan, Armenian and Russian Presidents’ declaration was not just that it was the second document signed since the 1994 Ceasefire agreement, but also that it was based on the main provisions of the Helsinki Final Act, and the core elements of the Madrid Principles: non-use of force, respect for territorial integrity, and the right to self-determination.

Baku believed that Russia’s involvement was motivated by the fact that, after the August war Russia wanted to invest in “image building”. After the August war Moscow pursued an image demonstrating that Moscow was non-violent in regional affairs and a facilitator of peaceful processes – and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process under Russian President Dmitry Medvedevwas part of this. In fact, another aspect was seen in the post-August recognition of separatist entities in the Georgian territory. As a result, Russia lost any remaining influence over Georgia. According to Sergey Markedonov, Professor at the Russian State University for Humanities, “there were fears that Russia would also lose influence in Azerbaijan, [which] explains to some extent Moscow’s engagement with Baku”. 4 Azerbaijan’s satisfaction with the Moscow Declaration was that Russia, an ally of Armenia, could change Yerevan’s position. Moreover, for Baku, the Moscow Declaration demonstrated “continuous commitment of the signing parties and the international community to solve the conflict based on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan”. 5 Thus, territorial integrity was interpreted as a clear priority for the mediation process.

Moscow’s Capitalisation on the Peace Negotiations and the Isolation of the Minsk Group

The emergence of the Russian-led trilateral format happened in 2009, notably following changes in the approach of the us administration’s support for the normalisation of Turkish-Armenian relations, which Baku saw as a threat to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. Subsequently, Baku’s faith in the harmonisation of the Minsk Group’s work was eroded. Turkey saw the Turkish-Armenian normalisation as a parallel process – whereby one rapprochement could catalyze or accelerate another. Baku was skeptical of this position, but the presidents of the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries encouraged the parties to make progress on talks on the basic principles. This was reflected in the joint statement by Presidents Medvedev, Obama and Sarkozy at L‘Aquila in July 2009, 6 which were seen as a positive indicator for Baku, despite concerns about the trajectory of the parallel process. The presentation of the updated Madrid Principles, which included a number of mutually agreed principles (return of territories around Nagorno-Karabakh’s (nk) administrative boundaries, return of an internally displaced persons (idps), security guarantees, etcetera) and new modalities for difficult objectives (status of Nagorno-Karabakh, referendum and etc.) – by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs was seen as a tangible result by Baku. This signaled that the parallel track normalisation – i.e. linking Turkish-Armenian normalisation with progress on Nagorno-Karabakh – was achievable.

The parallel process – to Baku’s relief – ended with the signing of the Zurich Protocols in October 2009. The Protocols did not specifically mention the normalisation process in relation to nk progress, though the Turkish side assured Baku, before the signing of the Protocols, that this would be presented in the written document. This was seen as a sign that the Western Co-Chairs were pushing the Turkish-Armenian normalisation instead of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. Thus, Baku became much more skeptical of the role of the Minsk Group’s efforts turning instead towards Moscow for mediation support. During 2010, Russia began to assert itself more in the Minsk Group, and Azerbaijan, based on trust of the Russian leadership opened itself up to Moscow’s unilateral mediation efforts, even though this undermined the us and French Co-Chairs. Azerbaijan’s political leadership believed the Western approach was tainted by double standards with regard to international legal principles. However, Baku saw Moscow more as an arbiter, with the power to put pressure on Armenia due its various pressure points on elites in Yerevan, namely economic as well as security dependence. Moscow’s mediation efforts overshadowed the Minsk Group’s work, but small initiatives such as the Field Mission to occupied territories – which showed the situation in the ground in terms of what has changed in the occupied territories – were considered valuable by Azerbaijan. Efforts by Baku to raise awareness of the territorial integrity issue on the international arena, including via the United Nations (un), were critical in 2010. Azerbaijan withdrew a draft resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh from the United Nations General Assembly’s 65th session. According to the Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United Nations, Agshin Mehdiyev, “the reason for the postponement is a ‘field assessment mission’ to the occupied Azerbaijani lands planned by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs”. 7 Notwithstanding the low-level engagement by the Minsk Group, any on-the-ground activity was appreciated at that time.

However, Moscow’s momentum began to decline in 2011, when it pressed for changes in the Madrid Principles that undermined the more balanced approach, and created the possibility for Russian troops to intervene as peacekeepers. This violated a key agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, albeit a “gentlemen’s agreement”, namely, that a peacekeeping contingent should not include troops from neighboring countries (Turkey, Iran, Georgia) or from the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The failure of Moscow’s momentum was demonstrated by the failure of the Kazan Summit in June 2011, which was supposed to see the singing of as set of basic principles, based on the Madrid Principles. Russia’s mediation efforts officially ended in January 2012 at Sochi, at the conclusion of the last trilateral meeting under Medvedev’s presidency.

In summary: before the 2008 August war, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs work had produced the Madrid Principles. After the war, while there was skepticism towards Russia’s involvement, Moscow ended up taking on a bigger role in mediation efforts. Ultimately, however, despite initial momentum, these efforts failed with the Kazan Summit, resulting in a vacuum and long standstill in negotiations.

The Effect of the Crimea Invasion on the Minsk Group’s Mediation Efforts/Capabilities

January 2012 saw the end of Moscow’s unilateral mediation efforts. Nearly 2 years later, a meeting between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia was brokered in Vienna in November 2013, ending the stagnation in negotiations by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs with backing from Western countries. This signaled to European Union leaders that they could seek a facilitation role as a way to regain the influence they lost through Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union (now the Eurasian Customs Union, which consists of all member states of Eurasian Economic Union). In particular, the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was interpreted as an end to Moscow’s attempts at “image building”, undertaken after the August war in 2008. This reflected the difference between the approaches of Medvedev and Putin, and the latter’s ambitious goal of gaining control over post-Soviet countries via the Eurasian Economic Union initiative. At the start of his third term, it was clear that this was the Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy focus.

However, the annexation of Crimea caused Baku to lose faith in Russia’s intentions for the nk mediation. Similar to the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008, there were concerns that the deteriorating Western-Russian relations would negatively effect conflict resolution negotiations. This was emphasised by the Deputy Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament, Bahar Muradova: “such a situation can reduce our expectations, and [raise] questions about how the Co-Chairs are committed to their mediation mission”. 8 The concern peaked during the post-annexation period, with fears that the newly resumed presidential level peace negotiations in Vienna would be derailed. The main advantage of the post-Crimea era from Baku’s perspective was the potential to elevate the territorial integrity issue on the agenda of Western countries. This could facilitate the Minsk Group’s work under France’s leadership. The momentum was seen as different to that which had emerged following the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, where the focus was solely on Georgia’s sovereignty, with little impact on the international agenda. Moreover, no distinction between territorial integrity and self-determination was drawn in 2008, and there was no breakthrough in relations with Russia politically. On the contrary, the us and Russia were pursuing a rapprochement at that time.

But Baku’s expectations were not realised. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict became, at best, a secondary issue, and Baku failed to convince Western countries to support the Azerbaijani position on territorial integrity, as they had done in the case of Ukraine. Under the shadow of the Ukraine crisis, the Minsk Group’s mediation efforts were not intensified. In August 2014, the military status quo was challenged when clashes broke out on the Line of Contact (LoC) between Azerbaijan and Armenian armed forces. While Russia, the us and France all seemed committed to maintaining the status quo, Baku aimed to show Yerevan that Azerbaijan had the capacity to end the occupation, a bargaining chip for diplomatic resolution. The increasing number of escalations between Azerbaijani and Armenian armed forces along the LoC by 2014 has caused major setbacks in the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs – it will now be even more difficult to bring the conflict sides to the negotiating table given the growing mistrust. Since the beginning of 2015, a new reality has emerged on the frontlines with increasingly frequent skirmishes. At the negotiating table, the Minsk Group’s framework has become a matter of using diplomacy to prevent skirmishes, rather than to bring parties to the table for substantive negotiations on ending the dispute.

The lack of substantive negotiations led to the April 2016 skirmishes, and as the major mediation body, the Minsk Group bore the brunt of the blame, from Azerbaijan’s point of view. Baku’s perspective was that since 2013, the mediators had lacked the desire and also appropriate tools to revitalise the negotiations. On the other hand, the mediators overwhelmingly blamed the conflict parties for failing to properly commit to negotiations. The subsequent truce was brokered by Russia, restoring the Moscow-led format of negotiations. Russia’s mediation format entailed a new element: shuttle diplomacy between conflict sides conducted by the Russian Foreign Minister. His task was limited to agreeing certain elements between the two sides, before arranging a meeting with the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents for the final decision. Unlike Medvedev’s “trilateral format”, which was based entirely on direct talks between the two presidents under Moscow’s auspices, the new format is less ambitious. It depends on the good will of the conflict sides, but the difference was that Moscow is pushing for a minimalist and realistic goal: immediate and tangible results, such as opening communication and liberation of one of two occupied territories. However, Moscow’s minimalist approach proved unsustainable and by August 2016 the Kremlin signaled that “everything [was] dependent on the [conflicting] parties”. As a result, Azerbaijan adopted an alternative approach to the peace negotiations, namely to minimise dependence on a peace initiative led by any Co-Chair country, and instead pursue a transformation of the mediation format. The transformation of Minsk Group’s format requires firs the consent of both conflict parties, second the approval of Minsk Group’s current Co-Chairs, and finally the consent of all osce member states. As stated by Rovshan Ibrahimov, Professor at Hankuk University, “the main actors of [the] Minsk Group do not want to confront each other to achieve any solutions in conflict, and the greatest power in the region is Russia, for which this conflict is an instrument of maintaining pressure on Azerbaijan and Armenia”. 9

Developments in the conflict between 2014 and 2016, and the second failure of Moscow’s mediating efforts, strengthened the perception in Azerbaijan that the solution to the conflict could not be dependent on the formulation of basic principles. By contrast, Baku began to believe that what was initially needed was a “small package” deal as opposed to the more expansive Madrid Principles. This smaller version could include the return of one or two territories to Azerbaijan, an agreement on the non-use of force, and the re-opening of the Turkey-Armenian border along with other communication lines (railway restoration, opening of air space, etcetera). These smaller measures would gradually reduce tensions in the region and give its peoples new hope for a sustainable peace process, such as the de-occupation of one or two territories before reaching an agreement on basic principles. This could be achievable and maximise the early success of the balanced approach. The Basic principles intended to ensure a balance between each conflict side’s gains at each stage during the implementation of the peace agreement; such as if the de-occupation starts, then Armenia benefits from the security guarantees.

Increasing Demand for Transforming the Minsk Group’s Format

The work of the Minsk Group is frequently criticised by Azerbaijan, especially when opportunities are lost in negotiations, as seen following the failure to capitalise on the Madrid Principles, which have still not been developed into a set of basic principles for a peace agreement. Azerbaijan’s vision for the transformation of the Minsk Group has gained new relevance, in light of three interlinked developments:

The failure of the Kazan Accords in 2011 was an important event triggering Baku’s dissatisfaction with the peace process, which for years had seen no tangible developments. After 2011 and the reduction of Moscow’s unilateral role, the Minsk Group failed to take a lead in negotiations. This also brought increasing intensity and frequency of skirmishes between the Azerbaijani and Armenian armed forces along the LoC, and the absence of the negotiations increased dissatisfaction with the Minsk Group’s work. Its perceived inactivity had previously been critically assessed on the view that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs were managing the conflict sides, i.e. expecting results from the two leaders putting the burden of responsibility on them. The Co-Chairs only visibility in 2013 was calling upon the parties to decrease the intensity of clashes. According to Anar Valiyev, Professor at ada University, the Minsk Group became “a nurse that prevented the conflict from turning into a large-scale war, but not a doctor to cure the problem”. 10 Azerbaijan’s rhetoric on negotiations has by 2011 slightly evolved in the direction of strengthening its own diplomatic position and military means in order to put more pressure on Armenia to reach a political settlement. In this direction, Azerbaijan’s non-permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council (unsc) in 2012–2013, led the government to believe that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would be subject to international attention. The rhetoric related to strengthening diplomatic outreach specifically manifested in demanding that Armenia withdraw from the occupied territories, as referenced in 4 existing unsc resolutions.

The second factor is closely interlinked with Azerbaijan’s bilateral relations with each of the Co-Chair countries – noting specifically the deteriorating relationship between the us and Azerbaijan. Washington’s criticism of Baku’s human rights record was often interpreted by Azerbaijani officials as the us’ “pro-Armenian” stance. Likewise, France’s 2012 bill on the Armenian genocide issue had a similar effect, with Baku criticising Paris for allegedly violating its commitment to neutrality. However, Baku’s relationship with Moscow improved in parallel to Azerbaijan’s deteriorating relations with the West, providing reassurance to Russia that Baku is not pursuing integration in the Euro-Atlantic space – Russia’s great fear in regard to the post-Soviet space is losing its influence.

Third, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (osce) other work in Azerbaijan encompassed human rights, democratisation, and election observation. This became a focal point for Baku; each time the osce criticised Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record, the government tried to make a rebuttal related to the work of the Minsk Group. The osce office in Baku was downgraded to a Project Officer position with a new mandate in 2013, and then in 2015 it was closed completely. After the 2013 downgrade, the us reportedly criticised the new head of osce Office in Baku, Alex Shahtakhtinski for being silent on human rights issues, 11 who strictly respected the mandate in Baku. While in reality there was no link between the osce’s country-level activity and the Minsk Group’s work, officials in Baku repeatedly drew links between the two, seeking to discredit the osce and avoid censure for its own human rights violations.

Therefore, demands to reform the Minsk Group were raised in 2013, when Turkey became involved after the ultimately abortive move to open the border with Armenia, which collapsed because the Turkish-Armenian rapproachment in 2009 was not tied to tangible results in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. This was put on the agenda on the basis of “border opening with the liberation of two Azerbaijani territories”. Baku, seeing Turkey as a close ally, and formally a permanent member of the osce Minsk Group, wanted to bring Ankara back into the Minsk Group’s activities. The additional justification was that all the other Minsk Group Co-Chairs were, in one way or another, pro-Armenian (due to their large Armenian diasporas). Ankara therefore could be a “balancer” for Azerbaijani interests in the group. After the osce office was closed in 2015, this demand increased, along with several other proposals for reform.

Thus, the first idea that Azerbaijan supported was the involvement of Turkey as a Co-Chair. Baku also argued that in 1997, the original formulation had been for Russia and the us to be permanent Co-Chairs, while the last Co-Chairmanship would be held on a rotating basis. In practice, though, France had maintained its seat as the third Co-Chair since the beginning. In the 1990s, the reality was that for international actors, engagement in the nk conflict was not a high priority. This was especially true for European countries, who were embroiled in the Balkan war. Both Baku and Yerevan believed that as a strong eu country, France would work well as a permanent Co-Chair. 12 In terms of Turkey’s involvement, Baku proposed to increase the number of Co-Chairs to 5, bringing Germany as well as Turkey on board as permanent members. Baku’s reasoning was that Armenia would likely oppose Turkish involvement. 13 However, the consensus needed for this kind of change was not there.

Ankara has long sought to become more involved in the conflict resolution process, even outside the potential Co-Chairmanship. Turkey made attempts to revitalise its working relationship with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. In 2013, Ankara officially invited the Co-Chairs for political consultations; however only the us joined. 14 According to one senior Turkish diplomat, Ankara’s assessment of the resistance was that France and Russia perceived Turkey’s involvement as a potential challenge to their authority, especially given the stagnation in the work of the Minsk Group.

The second proposal for reform was to keep the Minsk Group Co-Chairs the same, but use the resources of the permanent members to set up a 6-country commission, to serve as a second layer under the Co-Chairs. These two groups would work with one another in order to revitalise the negotiations, informing one another on all activities. This would require institutional change. Azerbaijani elites wanted to organise a Minsk Conference – as originally conceived back in 1992 – with the aim of reforming the Minsk Group’s mechanisms, rather than fundamentally changing the Co-Chairmanship institution. The Conference could also put the issue on the international agenda, which in turn could revitalise the negotiations. 15

The other idea, which is less often voiced by Azerbaijan, is to transfer responsibility for the mediation to the United Nations. Azerbaijan is well aware that 4 un Security Council resolutions, 16 highest expression of international law, have demanded Armenia’s withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory that it occupies – namely Nagorno-Karabakh and the 7 regions that surround it. These resolutions have never been enforced. According to John J. Maresca, 17 former us Ambassador to the osce and Special Mediator for Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, future steps should include: (1) Armenian pull-back to nk frontiers, under un supervision; (2) introduction of a full-fledged un peacekeeping force under a formal un mandate; and (3) closure and termination of the Minsk Group entirely, with (as a substitute) some sort of direct, on-going negotiation process under un supervision, disciplined in meeting deadlines and the ability to threaten the use of sanctions. The rationale for this proposition lies in the fact that the un has more political and legal authority than the osce. However, the weakest point of this proposal is the fact that the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries are permanent members of the unsc. Thus, at least in part, the decision on implementation of those resolutions is in the hands of the same countries and remains unimplemented.

However, the intensity of these various demands from different groups – political elites, opinion makers and the civil society members – towards the Minsk Group and the level of their disappointment has put the mg’s functionality under question. For Azerbaijan, the problem lies in the fact that “the mg has not been able to become an independent institution from their participant states’ interests and policies [and therefore] to become an independent mediator or arbiter committed to the resolution of the conflict”. 18 This view resonates with many experts, including Zardusht Alizade, a political analyst in Baku, who believes that the Minsk Group “did its mediation work – which was purely trying to organise meetings with the leaders of the conflict sides. However, it failed to convince the conflict sides to adopt a peace plan. The problem was the dependence on the interests of the Co-Chair countries and intentions, rather than this issue being institutionally addressed by the Minsk Group”. 19

Especially after the 2016 April war, the Minsk Group’s minimalist goals in preventing conflict escalation and bringing the conflicting parties to the negotiation table have been increasingly undermined. Resulting in the post-April 2016 hopes of the Azerbaijani leadership, especially the early prospects that the devastating effects of war would bring both sides to substantial negotiations, have not materialised. Neither does it seem format change would offer an effective means of altering progress in mediation. Instead, the Minsk Group should refocus its work on issues that up until today it has disregarded as outside its mandate. However, these issues are important, and in fact, part of the reason for the ineffectiveness of the Minsk Group’s ability to impact the negotiations is due to its limited mandate and the lack of certain mechanisms, as described in the following section.

Challenging the Limitations of the Minsk Group’s Mandate and Mechanisms

Azerbaijan’s expectations of the Minsk Group – namely that all activities should be directed towards tangible results – have been met with disappointment during recent years. The Co-Chairs evaluate their work based on the realities on the ground, e.g., the political-military situation and very limited scope of negotiations. Therefore, from Baku’s perspective, it seems as if the mission of the Co-Chairs has been to preserve the status quo rather than actively push the negotiations ahead. Since 2014, with the increasing levels of hostilities on the ground, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs have worked on the basis of proposals to strengthen the ceasefire and avoid further escalation of hostilities. However, it seems as if the multiple dimensions of the mediation process – as specified in the paragraphs below – have been ignored. Yet in broader terms, these concerns are essential to the conflict resolution process, especially given that neither Baku nor Yerevan have developed their own mechanisms to effectively manage these challenges.

The Human and Humanitarian Dimension

From Azerbaijan’s perspective, during recent years, the Minsk Group-led process has started to look like the promotion of “ceasefire building” as opposed to “confidence building”. The latter, however, is urgently needed in order to help revitalise trust among the conflicting parties and their respective populations. This issue became more pressing with the increasing number of casualties along the LoC, particularly since 2014. The return of captives and the bodies of deceased soldiers have been plagued by problems and delays, deepening mistrust among the Azerbaijani people. Despite the Russian brokered humanitarian agreement back in 2010, in Astrakhan, “the [Azerbaijan and Armenian] Presidents agreed that their first step [would] be [an] immediate exchange of prisoners of war and the return of the bodies of those killed, with the help of the Co-Chairs of the osce Minsk Group and the International Committee of the Red Cross (icrc)”. 20 The icrc has, since 1992 with the support of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe outlined in resolution 1553 (2007), worked to clarify the fate of the missing persons and help to return their bodies. However, both the nature of this work and the core of the icrc’s mandate require neutrality, which remains the organisation key asset. But there is a need for a mechanism that encourages the conflicting sides to respect the terms of the existing agreement. Sharing information on missing people under the auspices of the icrc was supported by both sides during the October 2014 Paris meeting.

The problem is that this issue is highly politicised, and the return of captives and bodies of soldiers remains dependent on the goodwill of the conflicting sides. The situation has been further destabilised in recent years by the intervention of the de-facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh. From Baku’s standpoint, requiring Azerbaijan to negotiate on this issue with an entity whose authority it does not recognise creates a dangerous political precedent. Entering into conversation with the nk authorities could bolster their legitimacy and recognition as an official party to the conflict. This runs in direct opposition to Azerbaijan’s position in the official negotiations with Armenia. The Minsk Group Co-Chairs have to date played this role – leading contact with the conflict sides as the Chairmanship, with the diplomatic missions or state representatives of Co-Chair countries providing additional support as needed. But the Minsk Group lacked an activity of taking action on confidence building measures – as leading process, and interactive with conflict sides, and with the interested parties – as with the Nagorno-Karabakh’s de-facto authorities. However, the problem is that the icrc lacks the political capacity to play a role in the facilitation of the return of captives and dead bodies, and accordingly the Minsk Group was tasked with establishing a mechanism. In 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (pace) resolution also called for the “Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office [to] the [c]onflict dealt with by the osce Minsk Conference to ensure that full support is given to solving the issue of the missing persons”. 21 But despite this call to action, a corresponding mechanism was never set up.

The lack of mechanisms is due to the fact that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office see this issue as beyond their scope of work. On the other hand, since the Vienna Summit in May 2016, there have been discussions about expanding the technical capacity of the Chairman-in-Office, which could provide an opportunity to add this issue to its tasked responsibilities. However, after the Vienna Summit, Foreign Ministers of the Co-Chair countries in their joint statement also noted that, “[the conflict sides] agreed to continue the exchange of data on missing persons under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (icrc)”. This was reaffirmed in October 2014 at the Paris meeting. It would seem that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs are trying to avoid adding this issue to their portfolio. But the reality is that the icrc’s deliberately non-political approach, without political backbone, means that concrete improvements to the situation on this particular issue will be hard to achieve.

Civil Society Dimension

The conflict sides take a broad view of the work done by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs; Baku places particular emphasis on propositions for moving forward on conflict resolution. The missing component is people-to-people confidence building measures. Societal engagement was seen as beyond the scope of the Co-Chairs. The Minsk Group’s supporting? line was to urge both sides to prepare their societies for peace. However, it is not engaging with the two societies, on the basis that the mg’s role is solely mediation, and all negotiations are confidential, meaning that details cannot be shared expect with the two countries’ leaders and chief negotiators. However, engagement with civil society would simply entail hearing the civil society’s concerns and suggestions on the conflict resolution process. At this stage, there is no need to reveal any details of the negotiations. While the conflict sides are not interested in involving their respective publics, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs could change this, which ultimately would help strengthen civil society’s belief in the Minsk Group. Also, the Minsk Group could potentially use relevant and workable proposals from civil societies within Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The participation of civil society could strengthen the legitimacy of the negotiation process and help mitigate the highly divisive rhetoric that plagues both societies. The prevailing level of media manipulation remains, with a few notable exceptions, quite high. Media outlets fear deviating from the standard political/military rhetoric. This impedes, even disrupts, the Track 2 agenda and the involvement of civil society. It is agreed that the absence of the Minsk Group in this sphere and the exclusion of civil society from the process is problematic. Anna Zamejc, freelance journalist, has suggested that the Minsk Group “should work on a comprehensive strategy, which would allow for the engagement of the societies in both countries”. 22 This approach would support the establishment of mechanisms for closer and more regular contact between civil society and non-state actors, involving them in discussions in different formats. According to a representative of Azerbaijani civil society, “there was already a precedent [for this] as Conciliation Resources invited osce Minsk Group Co-Chairs to one of the meetings of the Karabakh Contact Group in Tbilisi in 2016”. 23 Building on existing formats – such as the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (given that the eu is informally represented by France) is one option. Joint meetings of the Azerbaijani and Armenian National Platforms could be established under this umbrella, involving civil society actors and external experts. The exchange of opinions between Minsk Group Co-Chairs and civil society groups could benefit the image of the Minsk Group in both societies. This platform could also improve the fragile environment and alleviate public distrust. Introducing Track 2 processes through formal mechanisms could prevent the political/public backlash these groups might otherwise face. This is essential at this stage of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as it will improve the Minsk Group’s capacity – expanding from focusing only on hard security questions to looking at the human security dimension. A human security approach would help to address the challenging and most neglected side of this conflict, namely public engagement.

Situational Assessment and Fact-finding Dimension

One of the positive public dimensions of the Minsk Group’s work has been its involvement in assessments of situational reporting, both in the occupied territories and in regard to the environmental impact of the current stalemate. The Minsk Group’s first Fact-Finding Missions to the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan in 2005 shed light on the situation and provided much needed clarity. This was especially important given that a barrier to conflict resolution is establishing the modalities for returning idps to their homes once peace has been achieved. The Minsk Group’s mission urged “appropriate international agencies to conduct a needs assessment for resettlement of the population”. For Azerbaijan, this funding was essential, as it played an important role in putting pressure on the de-facto authorities in nk to refrain from building settlements.

A second mission in 2010 demonstrated the impact of the first, concluding that “there has been no significant growth in the population since 2005”. 24 At the same time, the impact of the conflict on the daily lives of civilians living on the frontlines is a critical factor, and the environmental impact is worrying. Back in 2006, following Azerbaijan’s request and Armenia’s consent, an osce-led Environmental Assessment Mission to the fire-affected territories was held. The Mission reported to the osce Chairperson-in-Office, stating that “[based on] satellite observations and ground evidence, the Mission [had] concluded that fires [had] affected the territories on both sides of the Line of Contact in the years before 2006”.

Since 2010, there have been no repeat missions led by the Minsk Group. Azerbaijan is interested, but according to officials, attempts have been blocked by Armenia. However, there is pressing neeed for a new osce led fact-finding mission given the events that have transpired since 2011. There have been significant changes in regional politics, especially conflicts and the devastating impact for the South Caucasus in terms of the flow of refugees. In connection with the conflict in Syria, Syrian Armenians have fled to Armenia, and some of the families have settled in Nagorno-Karabakh. This was reported in the Armenian local media and protested by Azerbaijan. 25 However, the numbers of refugees and scale of the settlement remains unclear. This development causes concern, namely that settlements in the occupied territories will become problematic in the event that Azerbaijani idps return to the region.

In addition, the Minsk Group has investigated environmental damage caused by the stalemate. In recent years, the Sarsang Water Reservoir Dam has become a humanitarian and environmental problem. The mismanagement of water resources by Armenia causes droughts that affect Azerbaijani civilians living along the frontline. In 2014, a group of international organisations, including the Minsk Group, urged the conflict sides to reach an agreement to “jointly manage these water resources for the benefit of the region”. 26 The Minsk Group conducted an assessment of the situation and developed a proposed solution, which aimed to increase the mediator’s leverage when dealing with the conflict parties. Without bringing this issue to the conflict sides as an issue during the negotiations, the conflict sides will politicise cbm’s (water dams for instance) and will not take action. Relying on the goodwill of conflict sides will not solve any immediate problems in regard to cbm’s. Co-Chair countries need to take the lead. Notably, it is crucial to find a way to gain Baku’s support for cooperation in frontline regions where water supply issues are pressing, noting Baku’s high sensitivity to actions that could be seen as “recognition of de-facto authorities”.

Confidence Building Measures

In the aftermath of the 2016 April War, the Co-Chairs again proposed the creation of an incident investigation mechanism for ceasefire violations along the Line of Contact. This was presented as a confidence building measure, but it sparked a major controversy between the conflicting sides. The scope and scale of investigation mechanisms as discussed in previous talks has led Azerbaijan to worry that it would both preserve the status quo and play a role in legitimising the LoC as an international border. Therefore, according to the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s position is that “[such] mechanism is not a target, it is one of the means that would serve for the comprehensive resolution of the conflict”. 27 First Baku needs to see troop withdrawal from some of the occupied territories, after which the investigation mechanism will be set up automatically.

Russia claims ownership of the investigation mechanism, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who stated that agreement on the mechanism was agreed by Azerbaijan and Armenia in March 2011 in Sochi. However, the 2011 discussion referred to routine investigations, but not to an investigation mechanism as such. This is reflected in the Sochi Statement: “To strive to solve all contentious issues through peaceful means and to conduct along the cease-fire line an investigation with the participation of the parties under the auspices of the osce Minsk Group Co-Chairs…”. 28 By the same token, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs proposed withdrawing snipers from the Line of Contact to save the lives of innocent civilians and soldiers as a mechanism back in November 2008. The current question is not who came up with the proposed measures, but rather the scope and implementation of the investigation mechanism, which has been interpreted differently by Co-Chair countries and its officials, and the expert community from both sides. Azerbaijan has expressed strong opposition to the broader conceived investigation mechanism. First, Baku agreed to increase the number of addition personnel from six to seven for Personal Representative of Chairperson-in-Office’s mission on the grounds that its mandate will not change, nor their existing mission or activities.

The Minsk Group’s role derives from the fact that in order for the investigation mechanism to work, the proposal would need to be mutually acceptable and implemented on a step-by-step basis. Since August 2016, the Armenian leadership has used the issue of the investigation mechanism as a pretext for lack of progress, stating that following its implementation, Presidential-level negotiations can be restored. The Azerbaijani side initially agreed to the implementation of such a mechanism on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan where skirmishes have been occurring, even though the intensity of military encounters in these areas is lower than along the LoC. Ultimately, the investigation mechanism along the LoC is a red line for Baku, as it is perceived as legitimising the LoC as a “border between Azerbaijan and [the] de-facto authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh”.

Taking into account the difficulty in finding a formula for a mutually acceptable investigation mechanism, confidence building measures shouldn’t be limited to the investigation mechanism, which simply serves the status quo. On the contrary, the cbms should first help to create a dialogue between Azerbaijanis and Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, which will be key to any part of the reconciliation process and peace agreement. Other key cbms – such as infrastructure repair, building schools, or justice reform – are harder to implement at this stage of the conflict, as they require tangible results. This would seem more plausible after the return of one or two territories to Azerbaijan.

Security Dimension – Not Beyond the Mandate of the Minsk Group

The security guarantee is one of the issues under discussion in relation to the Basic Document for a comprehensive peace agreement. The question of a Peacekeeping Mission is over-politicised, as well as the subject of intense discussions. The lack of comprehensive security guarantees is used by the de-facto authorities as an obstacle to a possible peace agreement, and is one of the discussion points under the Madrid Principles. Despite that, it was assumed that the conflict sides had a gentlemen’s agreement to not include the Co-Chair countries or regional powers (Iran, Russia) in any future peacekeeping missions. This informal agreement was reached at the Budapest Summit in 1994. At that meeting, parties agreed to send a multi-national peacekeeping contingent to the region, which nullified Moscow’s earlier hopes and was perceived as a diplomatic success according to Eldar Namazov, former Chief of Staff under President Heydar Aliyev of the Republic of Azerbaijan. 29 In fact, the 1994 ceasefire agreement required the “deployment of a peacekeeping mission to LoC under the auspices of [the] Commonwealth of Independent States”, which would mean Russian peacekeepers in the region. However, the issue is pressing, since the increasing number of skirmishes along the LoC give rise to concern that Russia will use the 1994 Bishkek agreement as grounds for unilateral action, if the skirmishes lead to an all-out war. The concerns that Russia would use this agreement to send its peacekeepers into the region have disappeared, since the adoption of the Budapest Summit Declaration in 1994, in which the conflict parties and osce participating States, including Russia, agree to a multi-national peacekeeping force.

One element of the Minsk Group’s mandate as envisaged in 1995 was to establish a High Level Planning Group (hlpg) with an open-ended mission “to make recommendations to the Chairperson-in-Office on developing a plan for the establishment, force structure requirements and operation of a multinational osce peacekeeping force for the area of the conflict dealt with by the osce Minsk Conference”. 30 However, over the years, this provision of the mandate has not been used effectively, as the Minsk Group Co-Chairs saw the peacekeeping issue as a part of negotiations, with the details dependent on the conflict parties’ agreement. The Helsinki Document provisions, which restrict the osce from being involved in peace enforcement operations, have meant that discussions on peacekeeping operations generate more questions than answers. Even the conflict parties’ view on the placement of peacekeepers in the region is abstract. In the 2007 version of the Madrid Principles, it is stated that the “selection of troops for the peacekeeping force shall be done by the parties by mutual consent. Each party has the right to veto the other’s choice”. 31

Making the peacekeeping forces dependent on the mutual consent by the conflict parties without proposing a concrete structure is another barrier: questions include which nations will be involved, the type of mission (military vs civilian), and timelines of mission. The High-Level Planning Group (hlpg) should work on ideas and present them to the conflict parties in the run up to the negotiations.

Within the scope of the open-ended mission on Peacekeeping Forces, the Minsk Group’s work should focus on combatting misinformation on this topic. Additionally, progress on this issue, will add value via presenting the conflict sides with a basic formula that they can develop further. This will address the stalemate, as well as mitigating the issue of public misinformation on peacekeeping forces, and any possible Russian involvement. This is important and timely, and the Minsk Group could benefit from involving civil society, as proposed by expert Thomas De Waal, creating “a ‘technical experts’ group’ for the Karabakh conflict that can work on scenarios for peacekeeping, reconstruction, rehabilitation of transport links, assisting the return of idps [etcetera]”. The technical experts group can consist of experts, civil society members from both conflict sides who can engage in a constructive dialogue and work together to producing a wide-ranging document, including, for instance, return of idps, reconstruction, rehabilitation of transport links. Each issue will require people with a certain expertise, and the results will be presented to the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The document could also be opened for public comment. In fact, there is an existing resource, created by the Conciliation Resources, called the Karabakh Contact Group (kcg ) which has a flexible and confidential format in which controversial issues can be discussed and assumptions tested between experts from both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Broadly speaking, the work of the Minsk Groups Co-Chairs has been in the shadows during recent years, especially in regard to the stagnant nature of diplomatic negotiations and lack of results. Baku has questioned the utility of the group within the current setup and scope of work. Challenging the mandate and making use of its official powers (such as tackling the peacekeeping operation issue) would stimulate the work of the Minsk Group, and strengthen its public and political credibility.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The Minsk Group-led negotiations should have clear short and longer term goals. Obviously the ultimate aim is to mediate between the conflict parties and lead them to reach a peace agreement, but before that there are many other smaller goals; such as easing military tensions, restarting substantive negotiations, and the humanitarian aspects. But the trajectory of this process during the foreseeable future is hard to predict, due to the ups and downs of the Minsk Group’s activities, especially given the current intransigence of the conflict parties.

Azerbaijan’s perceptions of the Minsk Group have deteriorated following the long phase of inactivity. Since 2009, after the updated Madrid Principles were presented, the process has been managed under Russian auspices, in the trilateral format, together with the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents.

Moscow’s biggest attempt to manage the mediation process during 2008–2012 did not yield positive results, notably failing in 2011, after the Kazan meeting. Since then, the Minsk Group has failed to take initiative in the two most crucial matters. The first is ensuring a meeting between the two presidents. This is the highest level and most important type of engagement, critical to achieving tangible results. The second is decreasing military tensions. The situation along the LoC worsened by 2014, and the April 2016 “Four day war” further marked a major deterioration in the security environment. The problem with the Minsk Group, as observed in Azerbaijan, is that its activities are defined by the interests and commitments of the leaders of the Co-Chair countries. The Western flank – the us and France – prefer lower levels of commitment and are happy with the technical cooperation with Russia, even with Moscow taking the initiative. Azerbaijan wants to see one country leading the Minsk Group process, especially if that will produce progress. On this basis, they supported Russia’s mediation efforts.

The Minsk Group’s work has been viewed with increasing dissatisfaction by Azerbaijan during recent years. This lies in the perception gap: expectations versus reality. Azerbaijan would like to see the Minsk Group become more of an arbitrator, not only a neutral, balanced mediator, and ready to design a formula and framework to impose upon the parties based on the principles of international law. Baku also wants to see the Co-Chairs take a position based on the principle of territorial integrity. This is particularly relevant for the Western countries in the wake of their reaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Baku expects a consistent approach to the territorial conflicts in the post-Soviet space, including nk. In addition, there is an expectation that the Minsk Group should take serious action to eliminate parallelism in mediation, which has risen due to Russia’s ad hoc mediation. The coordination of activities is essential, to avoid a repeat situation of the Madrid Principles in which the dedicated work of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs was disrupted and undermined by Moscow’s new unilateral? mediation efforts outside the mg. As a result the original Madrid Principles evolved and were re-interpreted as the “Lavrov plan”, after the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.

The image of the mg among Azerbaijani officials is just one problem. The other issue is the Minsk Group’s isolation from civil society in both Azerbaijan and Armenia. Noting that the level of public dissatisfaction with the mg also shapes official attitudes and rhetoric, it is problematic that the mg has not engaged with the public. Furthermore, the increasing importance of the human dimension of conflict needs to be addressed. At present, the – International Red Cross oversees the highly sensitive issue of returning captives and dead soldiers. The mg’s resistance to being involved in this area is a serious factor contributing to the public’s assessment of their work. Increasing the osce Personal Representative’s mission is an ongoing debate; currently the question of whether to expand its mandate to enable a bigger role in tackling ceasefire violations via additional mechanisms is being discussed. However, it is necessary to look beyond these issues. A set of recommendations is provided below:

  1. Set up a Technical Commission under the auspices of the osce Personal Representative; the group should consist of experts from both conflict sides. Their role will be drafting and discussing the issues of peacekeeping forces, technical parameters for the return of idps, and other relevant issues. The Commission would present recommendations to the relevant bodies of the osce, including the Minsk Group. The Minsk Group Co-Chairs would also benefit from the expertise represented within this body, which would support promotion of discussion and policy recommendations under the Track 2 process, bringing together the expert communities from both sides. The Minsk Group’s engagement with civil society could strengthen the position of civil society members involved in the Track 2 process, who at present face open criticism and harsh treatment from their respective societies, which remain captive to nationalistic sentiment.
  2. Create a mechanism whereby the Minsk Group Co-chairs will undertake a role with regard to the human dimension of the conflict – such as the implementation of the Astrakhan Agreement (return of captives and dead bodies of soldiers) and the obligations pursuant to the 2014 October Paris meeting (support of finding and returning missing people). Though the icrc plays a facilitating role here, the absence of strong political backing has impeded progress.
  3. Encourage meetings between Armenians and Azerbaijanis from Nagorno-Karabakh; the scope of participants should be broad, bringing together civil society, academics, and politicians. The status of Nagorno-Karabakh is and will be a very complicated issue to resolve, and early engagement by all sides under the auspices of the Minsk Group would improve the overall environment. The end goal of the peace process is the coexistence of Azerbaijanis and Armenians. These engagements will represent initial attempts for reconciliation between the two communities.
  4. Changing the format of the Minsk Group is no longer a relevant solution. However, establishing a new mechanism would be respected, specifically with regard to strengthening the role of the eu, in particular the position of the eu Special Representative (eusr) for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, who is already doing nk-related work under its mandate. Also, increasing the involvement of eu member countries which are also permanent members of the Minsk Group (Italy, Germany, Sweden and Finland) would be advantageous. At present, there is an evident lack of harmonisation of interests and work plans, leading at times to duplication of work. Improving cohesion and synergies will enable the eu to take on a unique position in the osce Minsk Group’s work. The establishment of a working framework between France, the eusr and the Minsk Group’s eu permanent members will help strengthen the eu’s involvement in the peace process. It will also reduce dissatisfaction of the conflict sides, especially Azerbaijan, by mitigating perceptions of eu inactivity due to France’s work as a Minsk Group Co-Chair.


E-mail interview with former Ambassador Matthew Bryza, nonresident Senior Fellow, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council, May 2017.


“General Assembly Adopts Resolution Reaffirming Territorial Integrity of Azerbaijan, ­demanding withdrawal of all Armenian forces”, Meetings Coverage and Press Releases, 14 March 2008, available at: [Accessed 19 April 2017].


Voice of America. (2008). Azərbaycan bmt Baş Assambleyasının qətnaməsini münaqişənin həlli üçün prinsipial əsas sayır. available at:­a-56-aze-arazdaqliqqarabaq-88652342/711350.html [Accessed 19 April 2017].


“Q&A with Sergey Markedonov on Russia and Karabakh” (2016), Institute of Armenian Studies, available at


Ismailzade, F. (2008). Moscow Declaration on Nagarno-Karabakh: A View from Baku, Fall 2008 – Turkish Policy Quarterly. p. 3. available at: [Accessed 19 April 2017].


osce (2009). Statement by the osce Minsk Group Co-Chair countries. available at: [Accessed 19 April 2017].


Asbarez (2010). Azerbaijan Withdraws Draft un Resolution on Karabakh. Available at: [Accessed 19 April 2017].


apa (2014). Bahar Muradova: “The cooling down of relations between Russia and the United States over the Crimea crisis slightly reduces our expectations”. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].


E-mail interview with Matthew Rovshan Ibrahimov, May 2017.


E-mail interview with Anar Valiyev, Professor at ada University, April 2017.


Gotev, G. (2015). us brinkmanship closed osce office in Baku, claim diplomats. available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].


Interview with Vafa Guluzade, former National Security Adviser to the President of ­Azerbaijan, April 2015, Baku.


Publika.Az. (2015). Minsk qrupu, yoxsa “5-lik SŞ” – MÖVQE. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].


apa (2014). u.s. Co-Chair of osce Minsk Group to visit Turkey. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].


Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh, February 2016, Azerbaijani political leadership meeting with local experts, classified.


1993 un Security Council Resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh. Available at: [Accessed 16 July 2017].


Interview with John J. Maresca, November, 2016.


Interview with Fuad Chiragov, leading Research Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies in Baku, May 2017.


Bayramova, P. (2015). Zərdüşt Əlizadə: Ya Rusiya dağılmalıdır, ya Azərbaycan xalqı dəyişməldir [Video-Müsahibə]. voa. available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].


Office of the President of Russia. (2010). Meeting with Presidents of Armenia and ­Azerbaijan. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].


Leo Platvoet (2007). Missing persons in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia from the conflicts over the Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia region. Strasburg: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (pace). Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2017].


Zamejc, A. (2013). “Seeking Peace: What Needs to be Done for the Nagorno-­Karabakh ­Conflict”, Caucasus Edition. Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2017].


Interview with Murad Nasibov, representative of civil society in Azerbaijan, April 2017, Baku, Azerbaijan.


osce (2010). Executive Summary of the “Report of the osce Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ Field Assessment Mission to the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan Surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh”. Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2017].


Hurriyet Daily News (2013). Syria Armenians move to Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan. Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2017].


Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water. (2016). ­Parliamentary Assembly. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2017].


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan. (2015). Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov’s interview to AZƏRTAC. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2017].

28 (2011). Working visit of President Serzh Sargsyan to Sochi – Foreign visits – Updates – The President of the Republic of Armenia [the official site]. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2017].

29, (2017). Former chief of staff of President Heydar Aliyev disclosed secrets about Karabakh talks. Available at: [Accessed 15 May 2017].


osce (1995). Mandate of the Co-Chairmen of the Conference on Nagorno Karabakh under the auspices of the osce (“Minsk Conference”). Available at: [Accessed 16 May 2017].

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 236 0 0
Full Text Views 869 86 5
PDF Views & Downloads 1012 309 14