by Marianna Mkrtchyan
David Lidington, Minister for Europe said in a statement on 12 May: "Today marks 20 years since the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement. While it brought an end to the fiercest fighting, real peace is yet to be achieved. Sniper fire continues to take lives on both sides; often the soldiers fighting are younger than the ceasefire itself. A humanitarian crisis continues as hundreds of thousands of displaced people still lack an adequate resolution to their plight. Peace will only be possible through compromises on both sides.
According to him ,a generation now exists who only know of conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, yet these two peoples have a long, shared history of living together peacefully. Peace will only be possible once both sides have created a situation where an agreement is acceptable to their populations.
Unfortunately this is not the case today. The UK remains committed to bringing people together, and developing greater understanding between the communities in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh. People to people interactions, and the peace-builders who sustain these links, are an essential element of any peace and reconciliation process, the minister said.
"The UK supports the work of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs who continue to work hard to facilitate progress on the peace agreement. The elements making up a deal, including the return of occupied territories and the acceptance of a free expression of will on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, were once again set out clearly on 7 May by the US Co-Chair, Ambassador James Warlick. I hope both leaderships show the political courage to bring about this solution for the people of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh," Lidington said.
The statement is available on gov.uk.
To recall, James Warlick in his speech at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, particularly, said: "In light of Nagorno-Karabakh's complex history, the sides should commit to determining its final legal status through a mutually agreed and legally binding expression of will in the future. This is not optional. Interim status will be temporary. Second, the area within the boundaries of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region that is not controlled by Baku should be granted an interim status that, at a minimum, provides guarantees for security and self- governance. Third, the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh should be returned to Azerbaijani control. There can be no settlement without respect for Azerbaijan's sovereignty, and the recognition that its sovereignty over these territories must be restored. Fourth, there should be a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. It must be wide enough to provide secure passage, but it cannot encompass the whole of Lachin district. Fifth, an enduring settlement will have to recognize the right of all IDPs and refugees to return to their former places of residence. Sixth and finally, a settlement must include international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation. There is no scenario in which peace can be assured without a well-designed peacekeeping operation that enjoys the confidence of all sides."