Karabakh war 2.0

It is impossible to reach a settlement without taking into account the opinion of the Armenians of Karabakh. Toivo Klaar

It is impossible to reach a settlement without taking into account the opinion of the Armenians of Karabakh, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar said in a conversation with RFE/RL's Armenian Service, answering the question whether the President of the European Council Charles Michel meant the participation of Armenians living in Nagorno Karabakh when he stated after the trilateral meeting in Brussels that for a lasting and fair peace there should be a discussion on all the key issues with the participation of all stakeholders.

"I think, after all, the Armenians of Karabakh are, of course, a party that must participate in the solution, no matter in what format. And it is very clear that the people of Karabakh have a fundamental interest in achieving a comprehensive settlement. I personally do not see how we can reach such a settlement without taking into account the opinion and point of view of those people," he said.

However, after Nikol Pashinyan - Ilham Aliyev meeting, Charles Michel spoke only about the rights of ethnic Armenians in Karabakh, without mentioning anything about their future status, which has caused concern in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

"I think, in the end, the issue is that this should be a comprehensive settlement. And we all know how the conflict started, it must be finally closed. President Michel did not mention much in his statement. This was not a statement that covered all the issues that need to be addressed. But the fact is that we have always stressed that a comprehensive settlement of the conflict is necessary, we are working in that direction."

In Yerevan, Toivo Klaar met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan, and Vice president of the National Assembly Ruben Rubinyan. The high-ranking European official is also scheduled to visit Baku in the near future.

Toivo Klaar receives generally positive messages from both capitals.

"The message I received is that the leaders' meeting in Brussels a few weeks ago has yielded some concrete results. We had the first meeting of the border commissions. Then in Moscow a meeting was held between the Deputy Prime Ministers to discuss the opening of communication channels, which the leaders had discussed in Brussels. We are very excited. The response from Baku is that the assessment of both the Brussels meeting and its further course is positive. So, there is quite a positive momentum. And I think it can be developed”.

On the uncertain status of Nagorno-Karabakh, Toivo Klaar says the most important thing now is to try to move the process forward, responding to the observation that while Yerevan is talking about the Minsk Group, Baku insists that the Karabakh issue is closed and the Co-chairs’ format can be dissolved.

"The European Union does not claim to have copyright on anything. We are interested in seeing progress and supporting it, I think that is what President Michel was able to achieve through his three meetings with the leaders, as well as through his meeting with Presidents Macron, Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. And that is what we want to do," said the diplomat, reminding of other existing platforms, particularly the trilateral meetings at the highest level in Moscow and the Commission on unblocking infrastructures chaired by the Deputy Prime Ministers has restored its sessions.

"It's great, it's great if it takes us in the right direction. Thus, the sole interest of the European Union is to help the process and to achieve a lasting, comprehensive settlement."