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John J. Maresca: Latest escalation of Karabakh conflict resounds as int’l shame for Armenia

19 October 2020 [15:09] - TODAY.AZ

By Trend

The latest escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resounds as an international shame for the world-wide Armenian community, and for Armenia itself, John J. Maresca, United States Ambassador (retired), told Trend.

“The path to resolution of this conflict must be peaceful if it is to reach fair, useful and lasting conclusions. Attacks on innocent civilians and historical towns and cities only adds to the pain and increases the difficulty of reaching some form of resolution,” he said.

“The military stand-off around Nagorno Karabakh has not changed very much since I requested the first international meeting on the conflict -- to try to reach some sort of resolution, or at least a cease-fire -- in 1992. That meeting took place in the ornate Villa Madama, near Rome, under Italian chairmanship, and included representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the two conflicting communities from the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The meeting, June 1-6, 1992, was the first meeting of the so-called "Minsk Group," and only agreed on a fragile -- and brief very brief -- cessation of hostilities. Since that time the Minsk Group (named for the place where the eventual peace conference is supposed to take place) has met, held consultations, and issued statements, many, many times. And yet the situation on the ground remains the same, and in fact has become significantly worse, while people on both sides continue to be killed,” noted Maresca.

He pointed out that the launching of missiles on civilian targets in Ganga -- an ancient Azerbaijani city, a tourist attraction and the center of Azerbaijan's traditional wine industry -- is a nasty and needlessly brutal escalation of the conflict, which has resulted in random civilian casualties, including small children killed while they were sleeping in their beds, far from the war in Nagorno Karabakh.

“This conflict must stop. The international community must take its responsibilities to ensure a fair and stable resolution, before warfare spreads in this sensitive region. International and regional borders must be respected -- because they are the only borders which exist -- until a fair political solution can be found which can be accepted by all relevant parties. Occupied regions -- not just Nagorno Karabakh itself, but the surrounding areas of Azerbaijan which have been illegally occupied and exploited for profit through all these years -- must be returned to their normal status under Azerbaijani sovereignty. At the same time, a political and security status must be agreed for Nagorno Karabakh itself, which respects both the needs of its population and, at the same time, the internationally-recognized borders of Azerbaijan. Warfare -- not even brutal, long-lasting warfare -- can never be legitimized as an instrument for changing borders or sovereignty. As stated in the Helsinki Final Act, "frontiers can be changed, in accordance with international law, by peaceful means and by agreement." This is the only legitimate way to alter international frontiers,” he explained.

Maresca believes that mediators must carry out their responsibilities, in full view of the whole world.

“The three so-called "Minsk Group Co-chairs" -- France, Russia and the USA -- must lead, not with their national policies in pursuit of their national interests, but in their historical and international responsibilities for identifying -- and imposing if that is necessary -- a fair and reasonable solution. And they must work closely with neighboring states, such as Turkey, which have legitimate interests in the issue.”

He noted that the elements of such a solution have been clear for many years: (1) full and complete ceasefire; (2) withdrawal of all occupying forces and respect for existing, recognized frontiers; (3) arrangements to respect an agreed and recognized regional autonomy for Nagorno Karabakh, as a part of the fully sovereign state of Azerbaijan; (4) safe, protected and voluntary return of refugees to their homes; (5) introduction of international peace-monitoring forces along the relevant frontiers, including the internationally-recognized border between the States of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the established border around the region of Nagorno Karabakh; and (6) legal provisions and international supervision for full access and peaceful movement of people and goods between Armenia (as a sovereign state) and Nagorno Karabakh (as a region of the sovereign state of Azerbaijan).

“Such elements for a resolution of this conflict have been "on the table" for many years. It is high time for the belligerents in this conflict to adopt and follow them -- to avoid further bloodshed and to find peace for this beautiful part of the world,” Maresca concluded.


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