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It Is Time to Officially Disband OSCE Minsk Group: President Aliyev

By Gunay Hajiyeva June 22, 2024


The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev met in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2024 / Courtesy

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, in a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, emphasized the need to officially terminate the non-functional OSCE Minsk Group's activities and all associated institutions.

President Aliyev stated that it was time to officially close the chapter on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, which is now a relic of the past.

Secretary Blinken, for his part, lauded the ongoing progress between Armenia and Azerbaijan toward a peace agreement and underscored the significance of concluding an agreement without delay. He reiterated the United States remains willing to support further engagement in any way useful to the parties.

In February, during a meeting with OSCE Chair-in-Office Ian Borg in Munich, President Aliyev asserted that the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan is a bilateral issue.

He called for the official disbanding of various obsolete mechanisms within the OSCE framework, such as the OSCE Minsk Group, the High-Level Planning Group, and the personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, all of which have been inactive since late 2020.

President Aliyev stated that the Karabakh conflict had been resolved, resulting in the restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In the early 1990s, the OSCE Minsk Group assumed the role of mediator in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the latter’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a full-blown war against Azerbaijan, which ended in a ceasefire in 1994. The bloody war led to the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories by Armenia. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million others were expelled from their lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by Armenia.

At the height of the war in 1993, the United Nations adopted four resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenia’s forces from the occupied lands. However, Armenia did not abide by the resolutions, dashing hopes for a political solution and simultaneously preparing for the next military phase of the conflict.

Diplomats from the US, France, and Russia have served as the Minsk Group’s co-chairs to spearhead international efforts to find a durable solution to what once was one of the most dangerous regional conflicts. Despite the decades-long shuttle diplomacy conducted by the group co-chairs, negotiations remained dead in the water without any breakthrough.

On September 27, 2020, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict took a violent turn when Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During counter-attack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from a nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with the signing of a statement on November 10, 2020, under which Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

Before the 2020 war, the Minsk Group’s unproductive activity repeatedly triggered a severe backlash from the Azerbaijani authorities. Shortly after the war, President Aliyev said the Group failed to resolve the conflict despite its internationally recognized mandate.

The fate of the Minsk Group was reportedly put under question by the mediating countries, namely the US and France, in April 2022. Back then, Washington and Paris refused to continue cooperation with Moscow within the “troika” format due to the invasion of Ukraine. The decision also derailed Armenia’s attempts to involve the Group in the peace agreement talks with Azerbaijan.

Following the one-day local anti-terrorist operations by the Azerbaijan Armed Forces on September 19-20, 2023, the illegal Armenian separatist regime in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan was ousted and subsequently dissolved itself. With the full restoration of sovereignty, Azerbaijan's authorities have definitively rejected the involvement of the OSCE Minsk Group in any peace-building process, deeming it outdated and ineffective.