Coronavirus encourages peace in Nagorno Karabakh
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Foreign ministers of the two countries forced to virtual video meetings. Video-conferences solve delicate travel and meeting issues in neutral territories, which take a lot of time in terms of agreement, organization and come at considerable expense. Emphasis given to the importance of strict compliance with the ceasefire, and abstention from any provocative action in current conditions. Overcoming the pandemic together and boosting the peaceful development of the region.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - A "video negotiation" for the solution of the long-standing conflict in Nagorno Karabakh took place on the evening of April 21 between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijian and Armenia, Elmar Mamedjarov (photo 2) and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan (photo 3).

The talks were attended by the co-chairs of the OSCE "Minsk Group" (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), the Russian Igor Popov, the American Andrew Schofer, the Frenchman Stéphane Visconti, together with a representative of the current president of the OSCE, Andrzej Kasprzyk.

The Nagorno Karabakh war dates back to 1992-1994, and has never been completely dormant. Over the years, the truce decided in 1994 has been repeatedly violated. In the small region of southwestern Azerbaijian, the Armenian ethnic majority sought to proclaim an independent republic on the basis of previous Soviet laws, prompting the reaction of Baku (capital of Azerbaijian), and a succession of mutual ethnic cleansing.

Azerbaijan has always threatened to reopen hostilities to subdue the region, if the mediation of the Minsk Group, an OSCE structure created after the end of the Soviet Union for the solution of conflicts between its former republics, is not successful.

A day before the talks, Mamedjarov and Mnatsakanyan conducted separate negotiations with the Group co-chairs, discussing the particular problem of Nagorno Karabakh, the development issues of the entire region, and especially the situation related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The same issues were then dealt with by ministers, to define a flexible and practical form to conduct negotiations in time of isolation for the coronavirus: video-conferences. This solves all the delicate issues of travel and meetings in neutral territories, which take a lot of time in terms of agreement, organization and come at considerable expense. The virtual meeting therefore proved to be more effective than the live ones, even in content.

According to the official statement, ministers approved a joint declaration stating mutual willingness to maintain close contact, and pursue negotiations in person as soon as possible. The document states that the parties have assessed the influence of the global health crisis on the conditions of the region, taking into account the events of these days. Some successive steps have been proposed in the process of resolving the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh, in correspondence with the statements published last January 30 in Geneva.

Ministers acknowledged that because of the Covid-19 epidemic it is impossible to implement the common humanitarian plans requested previously, and it is necessary to postpone them. The importance of strict observance of the ceasefire and of abstention from any provocative action under current conditions was underlined. The parties were called upon to take measures for a progressive easing of tensions, taking into account the problems facing the population in this period. Military blockades on the border will be lifted, "taking into account the value of every human life".

Mamedjarov and Mnatsakanyan, together with OSCE representatives, expressed their hope that responding to the global pandemic problem, a creative and constructive impulse can be given to the peace process.

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