The 18 January meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers will discuss an increase of the number of OSCE observers, reads an article published by the International Crisis Group (ICG).
Magdalena Grono, ICG Program Director for Europe & Central Asia, the author of the article, said she obtained this information from diplomats close to the peace process.
“The sides are still at odds on modalities. Baku would at most like to see a light-touch arrangement with no change in the current offices, whereas Yerevan prefers a more hands-on arrangement, including new personnel with new duties. In Nagorno-Karabakh, sources told Crisis Group they seek a permanent OSCE field presence in heavily populated parts of the Line of Contact. Although it is a tall order for a dozen unarmed staff to monitor the full length of the line, and the impact of their presence on overall security may be limited, an increase in numbers would be a small breakthrough in a process that often struggles to secure as much as a date for the next meeting between the sides. The other confidence and security building measures (CSBMs) on the table, an investigative mechanism, is far less likely to be agreed, diplomats say,” Magdalena Grono said in his article.
According to the author, the October 2017 meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents recommitted both to CSBMs and substantive talks.
“There is refreshed hope that diplomacy can prevent a new escalation, which in the worst case could provoke a regional conflagration, given Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s respective defense and strategic partnership and mutual support agreements with Russia and Turkey. But there is also a risk that meetings, if unproductive, will lead to a renewed sense of frustration with diplomacy, and a temptation to view the use of force as a legitimate means to solve the conflict. For this to be avoided, progress has to be made on security while political discussions need to resume. But as in many conflicts, security and politics hold each other hostage. The Armenian side insists on CSBMs before the substance of a future settlement can be discussed. Azerbaijanis, for their part, have been reluctant to commit to CSBMs that would risk cementing the status quo, without discussions on the content of a future deal,” reads the article.