ArmInfo. Moving away from a legalistic approach based on the interpretation of laws and trying to look at the issue of freezing settlement construction from the point of view of political measures could be a compromise solution if the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are actually interested in the negotiation process. This was stated by the co-author of the report of the International Crisis Group Olesya Vardanyan at today's press conference in the "Media Center".
To recall, the other day, the report of the International Crisis Group "Digging out of the Deadlock in Nagorno- Karabakh" was published, in which the authors of the ICG report, as one of the compromise solutions, offer a temporary freeze on the construction of new settlements in the adjacent territories in exchange for abstaining from legal claims or new sanctions against Artsakh and Armenia.
She noted that the construction of new settlements in Artsakh, which has not yet begun, is perceived by Azerbaijan as an undermining in the negotiation process.
Vardanyan considers the fact that the issue of settlements is not on the negotiation agenda unacceptable. <It is necessary to take into account the fact that people live there, and they have their own idea of why they were there and how their fate should take shape. There is a perception in Azerbaijan that the return of lands is a fairly simple process, it is enough to satisfy security measures and this can solve everything, but our work shows that this is far from the case. The issue of settlements should be considered fully and comprehensively, and not on the principle of "let's return two districts or, for example, five or seven". So, she believes, negotiations are not lining up. It is necessary to take into account the interests of those people who live in the conflict zone, and even if someone says that people are returning there, their interests should also be taken into account>, she noted.
She emphasized that the urgency of the issue of settlements in the crisis group comes from precisely this logic. According to her, in its content, the issue of settlements in the report is paid as much attention as the issue of the status of Artsakh.
"We are well aware that the issue of status is a priority for the Armenian side. For 25 years of the conflict, the Azerbaijani side has never proposed any peace plan that describes what Baku means by the status of the NKR, even in the representation of the Azerbaijani side. Today there is nothing that could be the subject of discussion. We only discuss the words <independence>, <autonomy>, <wide autonomy>, and no one understands what is meant by this, it should not be so, "she said. According to Vardanyan, the recommendations presented earlier by the co-chairs that the construction of settlements is illegal and that the Armenian authorities should stop them do not lead to anything good. <To ban something will not lead to anything good, to ignore the birth rate in this territory means to aggravate the problem even more, because people, looking at the statement of the co-chairs and other foreign players, consider that it is against them. One of the representatives of the former leadership of Artsakh, said that he saw that when Yerevan put pressure on them and they were forced to stop minimal assistance to those people who lived with holes in the roofs, as a result they were forced to build their settlements on ruins>, - she reminded. Vardanyan also expressed concern about the fact that Azerbaijan, especially after 2016, is rapidly building a judicial front by filing lawsuits against Armenia with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), so that even greater sanctions are introduced against Armenia. However, now not only from Azerbaijan and Turkey, but also by connecting other players to this process, Baku wants to put more pressure on Yerevan, placing all responsibility on it.
<If Baku takes these measures, it will kill any conversation, including, taking into account the important issue that concerns settlements and those people who do not want to leave from there. The crucial question is that new settlements should not be built in these territories, but we understand that they exist, and on the other hand, we understand that Baku does not want to accept them and say that they are legal, therefore we are trying to introduce a new direction as a call to abandon Azerbaijan's sanctions policy against Armenia and take a pause for at least one year>, the ICG representative suggests, noting that the introduction of a moratorium and the beginning of substantive conversation can create prerequisites for a compromise.
At the same time, the expert called the creation of trust environment, noting that it's very difficult to imagine how such important negotiations can be held without confidence-building measures.
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