Experts: OSCE Assessment Mission's Results To Benefit Azerbaijan

By E.Tariverdiyeva

The results of the OSCE Assessment Mission's studies will benefit Azerbaijan by bringing international attention to the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the situation in the separatist region, experts said.

"A visit by the OSCE Assessment Mission to the Azerbaijani occupied territories is useful in terms of informativeness," Alexei Vlasov, Director-General of the Information and Analytical Center for Study of the Social and Political Processes in post-Soviet space at M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University and member of the Trend Expert Council, said.

According to a statement made by the Minsk Group on Sept. 25, the OSCE Assessment Mission will visit the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in early October.

Following on their preliminary contacts with UN officials in Geneva and New York, the co-chairs formally invited UNDP and UNHCR experts to participate in the mission, the statement said.

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The OSCE Assessment Mission will examine the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan on Azerbaijan's initiative. During their most recent visit the co-chairs visited these areas and familiarized themselves with the situation. The mediators are expected to prepare a report on the current situation in the occupied lands.

According to observers, the results of the OSCE mission will play an important role in promoting a positive image of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani political analyst and member of the Trend Expert Council, Fikret Sadikhov, said that in terms of image, it is obvious that the OSCE Assessment Mission is a positive factor for Azerbaijan.

"If this commission is objective, it will make sure that apparent violations, not fitting into the norms of international law, occur [in the occupied territories]," Sadikhov told Trend.

Research by the OSCE Assessment Mission will play an important role in revealing the truth about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and distributing it worldwide, the chairman of the Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno Karabakh, Bayram Safarov, said in an interview with the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.

"The OSCE Assessment Mission's visit to the occupied regions of Azerbaijan and its research are very important for us because this mission's research will be important to identify the truth and spread it throughout the world," Safarov said.

As a factor in exerting legal pressure and taking the next step in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, confirmation of Baku's position on the situation in the Azerbaijan occupied territories, were it to come as a result of the OSCE mission, is very important if its assessment is fair, at least on the rhetorical level, experts agree.

"If this issue is submitted for discussion at the next session of the UN General Assembly, as  planned, a resolution is likely to be adopted in favor of Azerbaijan," Sadikhov said.

Vlasov said that Azerbaijan should support this trend and demonstrate the real situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the international community.

"This is the only correct decision for creating a positive image of the country. And from this point of view OSCE Assessment Mission's visit to the occupied Azerbaijani territories is important," Vlasov told Trend.

He said, results of the mission's study will benefit Azerbaijan.

"In terms of informativeness, the documents that will be published at the end of the mission are very important," Vlasov said.

Sabina Fraser, Director of European Programs at the International Crisis Group (ICG), said that it is time for international organizations to more actively be involved in issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to create a true picture of the situation.

"Therefore, these representatives' visit is important to evaluate and better understand the situation after the conflict is settled," she said in an interview with Zhamanak.

She said that seven occupied regions must be returned to Azerbaijan.

"I can not say, whether the status of the Lachin corridor is being discussed now, whether some Azerbaijani territories will be returned to Azerbaijan later than others. But one thing is clear. These territories are occupied. A change of their status means the return of the territories to the control of Azerbaijan," Fraser said.

Sadikhov said that the main thing is for international observers' assessment to be fair and not to pander to Armenia and attempt to reconcile the two conflicting parties by not offending anyone.

"I think that the OSCE Minsk Group will try to refrain from sharp and clear pro-Azerbaijani assessments and re-balance its position," he said.

However, the co-chairs are unlikely to confirm statements by representatives of separatist Nagorno-Karabakh, Vladimir Karapetian, Representative of the Armenian National Congress, said.

"The experts from international organizations who will assess the humanitarian situation, and the state of cultural heritage in these areas, will visit the territories controlled by the Nagorno-Karabakh under pressure from the Azerbaijani side. This is another unfounded concession to the Armenian side. This is a unilateral concession to Azerbaijan, but not the co-chairs," Karapetian said in an interview with Radio Svoboda.

Sadikhov said that the Azerbaijani side may submit documents to international courts to ensure a fair evaluation. Moreover, Baku has more than enough reasons to do this without the results of the Assessment Mission.

"We have seen Azerbaijan's ruined historical and cultural monuments, the destroyed mosques, through foreign journalists' reports," he said. "In this case we will face with the desire of many countries to bring us back to the format in which the negotiations are held today."

"This mission is unlikely to yield any serious results in the matter of an international investigation as the upper limit for intermediaries' opportunities is severely limited," Vlasov said.

The Russian political analyst agrees. If one takes into account the transit of the Assessment Mission's documents into practical solutions, problems may occur, as the international system of legal relations is complex. The presentation of these documents will result in protracted litigation in the International Crminal Court, he said.

Sadikhov said that Azerbaijan should use the results of the OSCE Assessment Mission to the maximum.

"Politicians, lawyers, political analysts and the Azerbaijani Expert Community should consider how to use these estimates to the maximum, and achieve a strengthening of pressure on Armenia," Sadikhov said.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.

The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding negotiations to resolve the dispute.

Armenia has failed to implement UN Security Council resolutions stipulating the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions.
Editors Note: Gasimova contributed to the article (Moscow)