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 Wednesday, July 29 2020 14:02
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Robert Bratke: If someone in Armenia or Azerbaijan thinks that there  will be an easy victorious war, then they are mistaken

Robert Bratke: If someone in Armenia or Azerbaijan thinks that there  will be an easy victorious war, then they are mistaken

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. 

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