With the OSCE likely to issue major decisions at its year-end meeting (see the CIS section above), Azerbaijan is exposing a newly developed gap in the OSCE’s credibility as a conflict-resolution body. According to Azerbaijan’s influential presidential adviser on foreign policy, Vafa Guluzade, the OSCE’s mediating group on Karabakh has introduced a potentially dangerous element in the negotiations by accepting the Russian idea of a “common state” as the basis of a settlement. The group’s Russian, French and U.S. co-chairmen, whose “activity has in fact been zero,” Guluzade pointed out in an interview, has handed Russia’s Foreign Ministry the leading role by adopting its position. Guluzade warned that Azerbaijan would use its veto right against any attempt to introduce this principle in the OSCE’s resolutions.
In their recent visit to the region, Guluzade observed, the OSCE mediators “set themselves the task not of settling the conflict, but of inventing something in order to begin negotiations…. There are no U.S. or French positions here. The ‘common state’ is an invention of Russia’s Foreign Ministry. The latter is attempting to impose it on Georgia in the negotiations on Abkhazia, but Georgia is rejecting it. This idea was applied in Moldova’s Transdniester region. Now the Russian Foreign Ministry is attempting to apply its tactics also in Azerbaijan, and it looks as if the United States and France are hypnotized” (concerning the Russian paternity of the “common state” proposals see the Monitor, November 12, 13 and December 2; Fortnight in Review, November 27).
In accompanying statements, Guluzade singled out four major drawbacks in the OSCE’s abrupt shift. First, the ambiguous concept of “common state” is an inherently contentious and unstable basis for any settlement. Second, the OSCE’s lurch from insistence on “territorial integrity” to an opposite principle undermines the OSCE’s own influence. Third, the shift rewards Armenia’s intransigent elements, who earlier this year overthrew President Levon Ter-Petrosian after he had agreed to a compromise. And fourth, the new proposals risk turning the Karabakh issue into a “pawn in Azerbaijan’s power struggles.” (Zaman (Baku), November 29; Zerkalo (Baku), November 21).
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