Published by REGNUM December 17, 2004

Unofficial translation

 

 

Ambassador Vladimir Kazimirov letter

to Mr. David Atkinson

 

 

Moscow, December 3, 2004

 

 

Dear Mr. David Atkinson,

I am the Russian Ambassador Vladimir Kazimirov, I am writing this letter in connection with the PACE draft documents on Nagorno Karabakh (I was engaged in the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in the hottest period of the war, in 1992-96, I was the head of Russia's mediatory mission, the plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation on Nagorno Karabakh, also I was a participant and the Russian co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, participated in stopping the military operations and continue to follow the Karabakh events).

1. I'll start with Russia's role, which is in no way reflected in the PACE materials. Moreover, clause 6 of the draft Resolution proposes to express gratitude to the Minsk Group co-chairmen and the personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for their tireless efforts, especially for the achievement of cease-fire since May 12 1994.

It's widely known that the cease-fire in Nagorno Karabakh was achieved with mediation of Russia and not the OSCE (CSCE before 1995). Russia wasn't a co-chair of the Minsk Group then (co-chairmanship was set up only 6 months later, in December 1994). The post of the Chairman-in-Office's personal representative was established even later. So, the OSCE, the Minsk Group and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office's personal representative have in no way been involved in the establishment of truce (I don't want to belittle the latter's services in holding of the monitoring of the cease-fire regime since then).

The UN Security Council in its Resolutions 874 (1993) and 884 (1993) wasn't ashamed of mentioning Russia's mediatory efforts and the OSCE Budapest summit (1994) did it three times, it expressed gratitude for the "decisive contribution of the Russian Federation." Don't the experts preparing draft documents for the PACE Rapporteur know this? Or, maybe, they preferred, against the facts, not to mention Russia's role in stopping the bloodshed in Karabakh and appropriated it to the OSCE? The PACE hardly needs such inaccuracy.

This should not be done also because, at first, the OSCE tried even to ignore the truce achieved by Russia (just a week later, on May 19, 1994, the Standing Committee adopted a document meaning as if nothing had taken place). The OSCE guides persistently call the cease-fire unofficial. It's desirable that the history should be written more accurately, and reliably.

2. The important international documents on the Karabakh settlement have always been prepared on a balanced base in order to make it easy for the sides to make compromises. None of them was as biased, with a shift in favor of Azerbaijan, as your drafts (neither in the UN, nor in the OSCE, perhaps, only in the Organization of Islamic Conference, but this is explainable). One should take into consideration the special sensitiveness of the parties to the conflict to each detail. Hipocratus' oath, "don't harm" to the negotiation process, is absolutely suitable here, as each side will for sure use any fault in its interests.

The respectful attitude to your predecessor, Mr. Terry Davis, and the short term of your work on the Report are quite understandable. However, being as close to the truth, to unbiased estimation of the conflict, as possible, should remain the main target. Faults and disagreements with the OSCE, which is involved in the settlement process, should be avoided, as they may cause confusion, hamper its work. The draft has failed to avoid this yet.

3. One of the main reasons is, evidently, that the prehistory of the conflict, the process of military operations in 1992-94, the settlement process, the attitude of the sides of the conflict to the international documents and peace-making initiatives weren't completely taken into account. And all this had an impact on the current tense situation. Many problems in the Karabakh conflict arose due to joint fault of all sides (ethnic cleansings, occupations, rapid growth of the number of refugees and displaced persons), meanwhile in your drafts this blame is, in fact, laid only upon the Armenian sides. I don't need to justify them at all, but an unbiased estimation of the line of actions of all sides is necessary, especially as Azerbaijan was the main bearer of the force approach to the conflict and was the side, which has been declining the steps aimed at the relaxation of tensions.

4. The selective references to the main international documents (UN Security Council Resolutions, decisions within the OSCE system) are rather dangerous. The sides willingly pick up only everything beneficial for them ignoring the rest and deviating from the fulfillment of obligations imposed on them by these documents.

The draft Resolution touches upon the UN Security Council Resolutions and the decisions of the March 24 1992 Helsinki additional meeting of the Council of Ministers of the CESE but the decision of the December 6 1994 OSCE Budapest summit, the highest and most detailed decision on the negotiations, isn't mentioned. Budapest both completed and corrected Helsinki. The two documents differ in not only in the level but also in the time of their adoption. By March 1992 Karabakh didn't experience the hot military operations it saw later. The Helsinki document even doesn't contain the term "party to the conflict". The document only outlined the holding of the Minsk conference (but Azerbaijan put forward new conditions blocking the convention of this conference and later ignored all appeals of the UN Security Council to convene the conference).

The OSCE Budapest summit took place after the sharpest, military stage of the conflict. The heads of 52 states instructed not the Minsk Group but its Co-chairmen to hold negotiations between the parties to the conflict. We are still at that very stage, the negotiations should be held not only between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but between the parties to the conflict, including Nagorno Karabakh (it is not accidental that the Budapest document reads about all parties to the conflict, rather than two of them, see clause 6 of your draft Resolution).

5. In the UN Security Council Resolutions and OSCE documents (for instance, the March 31 1995 statement of the Chairmen-in-Office and proposals of the Co-chairmen of OSCE Minsk Group in 1997-98) Nagorno Karabakh is now indirectly now directly recognized a party to the conflict (only Azerbaijan, not willing to have a direct contact with this party - against the UN Security Council's appeals - denies this). Your drafts of Resolution and Recommendations nearly leave out this issue, the conflict is only reduced to Armenia and Azerbaijan, this is beneficial for Baku. (And you correctly represent this problem in clause 18 of the Report). In the preliminary draft of the Resolution (clause 9) the correct appeal to Baku to establish contacts with the representatives of Nagorno Karabakh's political forces was "slurred over" by inclusion of the Azeri community of Nagorno Karabakh in the text.

Azerbaijan, rather than the Azeri community of Nagorno Karabakh is a party to the conflict. There is no difference in the positions of Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh's Azeri community, the interests of the community are defended by Baku. The Azeri vocabulary deliberately scornful in relation to Nagorno

Karabakh's Armenians shouldn't have been used in the PACE either. (Its main population was called a community. May we say "British community of London," "Azeri community of Baku," "Russian community of Moscow"?).

6. The drafts contain references to 4 Resolutions of the UN Security Council, but only the demand to withdraw the occupation forces was accentuated. The whole complex of demands of these Resolutions, including the most important issue, namely, how timely and completely the parties fulfilled them, remains aloof. These Resolutions may be adequately interpreted only taking into account the conditions of their adoption and the hierarchy of demands and appeals by meaning. All four Resolutions were adopted at the peak of the military operations (April-November 1993). That's why it's natural that their most principal, key demand was to cease fire, military operations and hostile acts. I am acquainted with the facts of that period like no one else.

During that period and later, till May 1994, i.e. more than a year Azerbaijan's leadership persistently ignored the main demands of all 4 Resolutions and continued staking on the forcible solution of the conflict, several times violated the cease-fire, deviated from agreements about it and from other peace-making initiatives. Azerbaijan's leadership concluded a truce not for the fulfillment of the UN Security Council Resolutions but because of the threat of complete defeat on the front and loss of power. There were enough problems with Armenians as well, but they were more flexible and constructive. This has a most direct relation to the grave consequences of the war, as seizure of territories, growth of the number of displaced persons are also on the conscience of Azerbaijans leadership, and not only on Armenia's and Nagorno Karabakh's.

Resolution No 853 demanded unconditional withdrawal of occupation forces, but the next Resolutions, No 874 and 884, didn't contain this word, as the UN Security Council couldn't have "awarded" one of the parties for the sabotage of its Resolutions! The formulations of Resolution No 884 are eloquent. We can't but take into consideration that, as a result, the withdrawal of troops became and was the subject of negotiations between the parties to the conflict.

7. The fact that Baku from the very outset neglected fulfillment of the main demand of all Resolutions of UN Security Council couldn't have failed to tell on fulfillment of other demands, as well, including fulfillment of demands by the Armenian sides, and led to non-fulfillment of these Resolutions as a whole. Your drafts are mainly based on the fact that the Armenians (both of Armenia and of Nagorno Karabakh) don't withdraw the occupational forces insisting at once on the "package" settlement. This is true. But it's equally true that Azerbaijan's leadership, in fact, fulfilled none of the demands or appeals of the four Resolutions of UN Security Council. Until now, it fails to fulfill a number of demands and appeals. Moreover, against them, Azerbaijan's leadership demands that Turkey should continue Armenia's blockade, regularly threats to solve the conflict by force anew, for many times turned down confidence-building measures, supports the anti-Armenian hysteria in Azerbaijan but nothing is said about this in the drafts. At present Baku continues to "surpass" Yerevan and Stepanakert on these negative displays and your drafts at the best limit themselves to appeals to the parties "as equal."

8. Clause 8 of your Report claims that 8 regions of Azerbaijan beyond Nagorno Karabakh's borders are occupied. In reality, 7 regions are occupied (5 completely and 2 partially). The drafts touch upon Azerbaijan's occupied lands only, but there are also Armenian lands occupied by Azerbaijan (for instance, Artsvashen or Bashkend).

9. The idea of the establishment of a PACE ad-hoc committee on Nagorno Karabakh gives rise to doubt. Of course, this is the business of the PACE but is it worth establishing structures parallel to the OSCE Minsk Group? The parties will constantly seek out the difference in the positions of two or more structures in order to use this, at least, in the propaganda, which is at present doing harm "both sides of the barricade," hampers the settlement.

The draft also contains a number of provisions not coinciding with the consideration of these issues in the negotiation process within the framework of the OSCE. I have many remarks on a number of other clauses of your documents as well, but I won't go into details. I am ready to announce them concretely by points if necessary.

10. The titles of your drafts contain a duplication, like a tautology. The formulation "conflict, in which the OSCE Minsk conference is engaged" was aimed at liquidating the argument of the parties in connection with naming the conflict (one Party didn't want to call it Nagorno Karabakh Conflict, but only Armenian-Azeri one). If the Rapporteur names the conflict Nagorno Karabakh there is no need of this "euphemism," especially as there hasn't been a Minsk Conference yet.

 

Dear Mr. David Atkinson,

 

This letter isn't at all aimed at laying the blame for non-resolution of the Karabakh conflict upon Baku. But because of the shift of your drafts in favor of one side I had to show that the matter isn't so definite but is more complicated, there are more those to blame for this deadlock.

I am sure that such an authoritative organization as the PACE could have displayed a more balanced approach to the problems of the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh.

 

With best wishes

Vladimir Kazimirov