ArmInfo. Since 1994, when the armistice agreement was concluded to this day, the peace process on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement was unstable and did not record the desired progress. Robert Bratke, ex-co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group from the United States, expressed this opinion in an interview with the Armenian service of the Voice of America, referring to the latest escalation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border.
Expressing deep concern over the latest escalation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, he stated that it is one of the most serious since 1994, and could potentially have very serious consequences. At the same time, the ex-co-chairman found it difficult to say what caused this aggravation, adding that the conflict continued throughout all these decades in violation of the ceasefire regime. Having stated that the ceasefire agreement was concluded in 1994, he noted that it nevertheless left the line on maintaining the ceasefire, which was not effectively monitored, and many different kinds of violations were recorded.
"I think that based on the above, the existing frustration on all sides is quite understandable. But there is another factor, namely, when the parties to the conflict begin to believe that the international community is not paying due attention to the settlement of the conflict. There is a temptation to use force to attract attention to the conflict. And this is happening at a time when we are faced with a pandemic with economic, social and other crises, "- said the ex-co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group from the United States. He also agreed with the allegation of toughening rhetoric between the parties. In this regard, Bratke recalled that the mediators issued a statement in which they called on the parties for restraint, indicating that the clashes take place on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border, far from the contact line of troops, where the border line is not in doubt and is clearly defined, with the use of artillery, and snipers. According to the American diplomat, the use of artillery increases the danger of the situation getting out of control. "It is clear that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs did not manage to carry out the observation mission that they carried out before, including during my time in the mediating composition. There is no independent party that could control the parties and these processes, and this is very The rhetoric of threats and accusations voiced by both sides, and which are fraught with a rapid development of the situation in a very bad direction, is also extremely important, "Bratke said. Speaking about the role of Russia in resolving the conflict, the former mediator noted that during his days in office, the United States, Russia and France worked very closely on this issue, even when Washington and Moscow did not have very good relations - efforts were made and there was one opinion, to do everything to prevent an outbreak of conflict, to avoid large-scale hostilities, since in such conflicts the likelihood of the involvement of third countries is high. According to him, then there was an understanding to do everything to reach a peaceful settlement. "It was then, but now it is difficult for me to judge what other countries think and what their interests are. But I want to believe that Russia understands that in the event of armed clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, there is a great danger of involving other countries, in particular Turkey and Iran This is not in Russia's interests. Moscow cannot be interested in the flare-up of this conflict, since it is not in its interests, "Bratke believes. Touching upon the Turkish role in this conflict, the ex-co-chairman recalled the serious interests of Ankara in this region. "This is a state bordering on Armenia, and which closed its borders in response to the war that took place in the 90s. Turkey has very close ties with Azerbaijan. And there are risks here, because historically, the Armenian-Turkish relations were not very positive. And no matter how Turkey wants to take on intermediary obligations, it will not be able to do this, since Armenia does not trust her, "he said, adding that during his days of co-chairmanship, they constantly consulted with Turkey, since they also have there is a role. In this regard, Bratke expressed the hope that in this case the role of Turkey will be restraining, and it will remind Azerbaijan of the catastrophic consequences of the use of force, which will lead to the destruction of all economic opportunities in the region. The American diplomat expressed the hope that Turkey will take the side of Azerbaijan, will be able to give it the right advice, urging to refrain from the use of force and continue efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict, since a new war is not in the interests of either side. Sharing his point of view on the role of the United States in this matter, the ex-mediator noted that it is difficult for him to say what the American the administration is out of the negotiation, since he has not spoken to the current mediator for a long time. "Nevertheless, I believe that the United States plays an important role here. The United States inspires confidence among the parties. If you look at the history of the region, we see that both Armenia and Azerbaijan were previously subordinate to the imperialist aspirations of their neighbors, in particular the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, The history of all these countries is interconnected with Armenia and Azerbaijan, while the US is outside of this. We are far away, and this contains both positive and negative sides. On the one hand, it is difficult for us to be closely involved in the process here, but also a plus in that that we have no interests here, territorial ambitions and the parties trust us, "he said. At the same time, Bratke believes that despite the difficult period - the economic crisis and the pre-election situation, the United States could, ignoring the geographical remoteness, take a more active role in the settlement as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair. "The co-chairs can work, but this is one of those crises when a higher level of involvement is needed in order to reach agreements between the parties and keep them from resolving the issue by force and return them to the mainstream of peaceful negotiations," he said. Speaking about the role of the OSCE MG and the achieved mediation successes in the settlement process, Bratke noted that there were two moments when the group was close to significant results in the negotiations: the first, when the MG was invited to Key West, and the second in 2011, when, thanks to painstaking work of mediators and countries, the parties were offered a fundamental project, which was to form the basis of the peace agreement. He recalled that the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev invited the parties to Kazan and there was a hope that an agreement on this project would be reached and work on an actual peace agreement would begin. "It was based on 6 most important principles, which were preserved as the basis in the negotiation process: this is the withdrawal of Armenian and Karabakh troops from the conquered territories around Nagorno-Karabakh; a temporary status for Nagorno-Karabakh, which would ensure its security and self- government, was adopted by Azerbaijan and included the final determination of the status of Artsakh. It was to be adopted and ratified on the basis of the will of the so-called population of these territories. It also included the return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes with security guarantees. There should also be a corridor linking Artsakh with Armenia. these six main provisions on which the future peace agreement was to be based .. Unfortunately, the document was not adopted by the parties. Since then, there has been no significant progress in the peace process, "Bratke said. At the same time, he noted that this is not the first time when the situation on the border is getting out of control, but the last incident speaks of the seriousness of the situation and that the parties are serious. According to him, in the past there were many cases when the violation of the ceasefire regime resulted in a wrong perception of the situation by the parties, however, today it is difficult to say something, since there is no observation mission and proper control on the ground, and there is always a factor of incorrect calculations. "But, there is also a factor of disappointment between the parties, since visible results are not recorded, and there is a temptation to resolve the issue by force. But, the war of the 90s was a disaster for the parties, which claimed 20-25 thousand lives. And if anyone in Armenia or Azerbaijan- he thinks that there will be an easy victorious war - he is wrong Look what is happening in Syria, eastern Ukraine When a war starts, no one can predict how it will end. I am concerned that a large-scale war will lead to disaster in the region. The parties must step back from this, the mediators must step up their activities. An impulse from a high level about readiness to get involved in negotiations is needed. There must be real and effective steps to preserve peace. Naturally, everything will depend on the parties, " - said the former co-chairman. At the same time, Bratke believes that in order to reduce the exacerbation, a joint statement at a high level of the mediating countries is necessary on the need for a ceasefire and a return to negotiations, since there is no military solution to this problem.