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November 16
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YEREVAN. – Although President Ilham Aliyev has declared that the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh in the settlement process is unacceptable, I do not preclude that ever being an option, former U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group believes.

Mr. Carey Cavanaugh said when he first worked on this dispute as an American diplomat – before the triple co-chairmanship, when Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson led the process – representatives of both the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno-Karabakh were regularly engaged by the OSCE Minsk Group.

“The original mandate given to the Minsk Conference spoke only of ‘parties to the conflict’, without any further definition. This caused some difficulties at the start of the process in Rome, but over time the co-chairs and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan pursued patterns of engagement they thought might provide the best chance of achieving a political settlement amenable to all sides”, Cavanaugh told Armenian News-NEWS.am.

He thinks there was little concern that former President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan would not fairly represent the views of Armenians in Karabakh since he was born, raised and educated in Stepanakert.

“Just before my tenure as US Minsk Group co-chair in 1999, a promising direct dialogue regarding possible solutions had developed between Presidents Robert Kocharyan and Heydar Aliyev. This placed the principal focus of the peace process squarely upon these two men. Given Kocharyan’s life history (born, raised, and educated in Stepanakert; key roles in the Artsakh movement and local political leadership), there was little concern that he would not fairly represent the views of Armenians in Karabakh. The same general view later held for President Serzh Sargsyan and a direct dialogue between two leaders continued,” he said.

He emphasized that the Minsk Group co-chairs maintain ties to the full spectrum of players – traveling  to Stepanakert and the region, meeting with refugee communities in Armenia and Azerbaijan, visits to diaspora groups, and sharing developments at OSCE and the UN to ensure that the views and interests of all parties, as well as the international community, would be reflected in any possible settlement.

“History has shown that there can be flexibility in the Minsk Group process, if it serves to enhance the prospect of peace”, he added.

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