Europe Program Director of International Crisis Group Sabine Freizer: Regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, the best that can be expected any time this year is agreement on the basic principles

Europe Program Director of International Crisis Group Sabine Freizer: Regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, the best that can be expected any time this year is agreement on the basic principles
# 18 May 2009 10:17 (UTC +04:00)
“Another meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents is expected in Saint Petersburg around 4-6 June. But there is a long-running stalemate over several issues, including the modalities of a plan to hold a referendum to determine Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status and the status and size of a possible corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia in the Lachin district. Once an agreement on basic principles is signed, lengthy and difficult talks await the sides to reach a comprehensive settlement leading to the start of actual withdrawals,” she said.

Sabine Freizer underlines that Turkey plays an important role in the region, particularly in the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
“There is no doubt that progress on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would enhance Turkey’s ability to normalise relations with Armenia and stability in the South Caucasus. But Ankara’s best chance of bringing a new positive momentum to the process is precisely by normalising with Armenia,” she said.
Sabine Freizer says that optimism about the normalisation of Turkey-Armenia bilateral relations, so prevalent on 22 April when the two countries announced that they had agreed on a comprehensive framework for reconciliation, has suddenly faded. “Normalisation would include opening of the Turkey-Armenia border, establishing diplomatic relations, and setting up of bilateral commissions to deal with multiple issues, including the historical dimension of their relations. It first seemed that these steps could be accomplished by Autumn 2009. Now they may be delayed for years. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan put a brake on the reconciliation effort when in Baku on 13 May, he did not mince his words: “the closure of the [Turkey-Armenia] border is a result of the [Armenian] occupation in Karabakh […] until the occupation ends, the border gates will remain closed.”
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