YEREVAN — Richard Hoagland, the outgoing U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group met with Armenian and Azerbaijani journalists in Washington, presenting U.S. policy towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution.
During the meeting, Hoagland circulated a document outlining key points to guide the political settlement process which has been advanced and repeatedly modified by the U.S., Russian and French mediators over the past decade.
The proposed settlement calls for Armenian withdrawal from virtually all seven districts around Karabakh that were fully or partly occupied by Armenian forces in 1992-1993. In return, Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would determine its internationally recognized status in a future referendum. “The sides should commit to determining the final legal status through a mutually agreed and legally binding expression of will in the future.” “The occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh should be returned to Azerbaijani control,” According to the statement circulated by Hoagland.
It also says: “There should be a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. It must be wide enough to provide secure passage, but it cannot encompass the whole of Lachin district.”
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Thursday downplayed the significance of Hoagland’s statement. According to the Armenpress news agency, Nalbandian said that the U.S. mediator simply reaffirmed what has for years been stated by the three mediating powers and contained some inaccuracies and omissions,
“The American Co-Chairs has not said anything new. Look at all previous statements and you’ll see the same things,” Minister Nalbandian told reporters today.
Nalbandian also dismissed suggestions that Hoagland’s move was timed to coincide with Wednesday’s talks between the Armenian and Russian presidents, which touched upon the Karabakh issue as well. He said that Hoagland simply gave a farewell interview to Armenian and Azerbaijani reporters.“The American Co-Chair’s tenure is coming to an end, and he just gave a press conference and spoke about certain issues once again.” Nalbandian said.