December 15, 2010 - 15:11 AMT
Dennis Sammut:
Karabakh negotiation process does not going on the way it should
After the OSCE summit in Astana, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is one of the most debated topics among experts and political analysts. They speak of possibility of Azerbaijan’s aggression, on the one hand, and of the deadlock the talks reached, on the other. Executive director of UK-based LINKS NGO Dennis Sammut commented to PanARMENIAN.Net on his vision for the future of the conflict settlement process.
You have been studying the reasons and process of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict for a long time. Do you think the conflict is frozen or insoluble?
I do not believe that Karabakh conflict can't be resolved. It's more than possible, we just need to work to than end. The conflict is regional and people should understand what may happen if it remains frozen for a long time. The OSCE Minsk Group determined the way for its resolution but both Armenia and Azerbaijan should seek for solution. In the course of our study we understood that the negotiation process does not going on the way it should. As an NGO we can help people understand that peace is an alternative to war.

Azerbaijan boasts economic and military advantages over Armenia. Is this true to fact and how can it help resolution of the conflict?
Achievement of success by a country doesn't ensure regional welfare. Only if the three South Caucasus state make considerable progress in their development, we will be able to speak of a headway. Given its geographic location, the region has always been attractive for invaders. The best way to resolve the current problems is to ensure existence of various approaches. This can be achieved on the format of the OSCE MG, or, with the assistance of other institutions.

You think that the OSCE Minsk Group should collaborate with non-governmental organizations, otherwise nothing will come out of it...
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs are not free. They depend on their governments. That is why I believe that they should cooperate with NGOs while the publics in both countries should move towards democracy. The Minsk process should be more productive. Although it ensures regular meetings between Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders, the people who most suffered from the conflict feel disappointed and efforts are needed to convey renewed impetus to the talks.

What do you think about the recent OSCE summit in Astana?
We expected too much from the summit which was held for the first time after an 11-year gap, that is why we are all a bit disappointed with its outcomes. Nevertheless, it offered another opportunity to reconsider security issues in Europe and Eurasia.

At the same time, no action plan was developed and this will weaken the organization's positions. The summit registered no progress in resolution of frozen conflicts, ass there is lack of consent among all 56 member countries. The OSCE didn't recover from the 2008 war in South Ossetia. It doesn't even have any agreement on return of its mission to Georgia.

Reverting to Karabakh conflict... Do you think that its resolution is possible on the basis of two opposite principles: the right of nations to self-determination and the principle of territorial integrity?
The principles of the Helsinki Final Act are historical and are important today. They were adopted when the world was divided into two ideological camps. True, the world has changed and necessity of new approaches emerged. But, European countries should base on the principle of the Helsinki Final Act, without changing them.

Is a new war in Karabakh possible?
If there is no peace agreement, any development is possible, including war. Armenia and Azerbaijan are on the edge of war, that is why the peace process must be reanimated. The incidents at the line of contact become more frequent, so the risk of resumption of hostilities grows. And the last but not least, everyone should remember that ceasefire is not peace.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News