YEREVAN (tert.am) — In an interview with Tert.am, James Warlick, US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, voiced hope that the conflicting parties will sit down at the negotiating table this year, prepared to make progress on a settlement.

– An Armenian-Azerbaijani presidential meeting was held through the OSCE Minsk Group’s mediation. However, the meeting was preceded and followed by escalation on the border between the two countries. What did the sides benefit from that meeting? Is there a need for blateral presidential meetings if they do not even de-escalate the situation on the border?

– The two people who hold the keys to a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are President Aliyev and President Sargsyan. They should meet as frequently as possible to make progress towards peace. We also support negotiations below the level of the Presidents to discuss the many elements of a comprehensive settlement. Such efforts would build trust, keep tensions reduced, and improve the atmosphere for dialogue on a settlement.

Some Armenian experts and politicians think that the conflict cannot be resolved peacefully because of Azerbaijan’s counterproductive policy. They say that Azerbaijani considers a military solution to the conflict and the border escalation confirms this theory. Do you agree? Azerbaijan used a battle tank and artillery recently, and there were victims among Armenian soldiers. Do you think Azerbaijan’s behavior could lead to a large-scale war between the two countries?

– The Presidents themselves have publicly committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We take them at their word. A full-scale war would devastate the region and we believe the Presidents understand that. We hope that in 2016, the sides will come to the negotiation table prepared to make progress on a settlement, stop using violence, and avoid inflammatory rhetoric that undermines the Presidents’ shared goal of peace.

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