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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

August 2018
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South Caucasus Peace Initiative

UPF South Caucasus Peace Initiative Launched

Mission

To establish an ongoing dialogue and communication, involving all sides of the ethnic/territorial dispute on Nagorno Karabakh, to achieve, be means of peoples diplomacy, interreligious cooperation, humanitarian assistance and service, etc., mutual understanding and lasting peace in the region of South Caucasus and adjacent areas of Eurasia.

Background

The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh is the most significant obstacle to peace and stability in the South Caucasus. The conflict began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory populated by ethnic Armenians, which was arbitrarily given to Azerbaijan by Bolshevik leaders in Moscow in 1921.

Since 1992, Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement which ended the active hostilities. Fourteen years into a ceasefire, the parties have been unable to sign a single document bringing them closer to a settlement.

Nagorno-Karabakh has aspirations for independence and argues with some reason that it has a democratically-elected government that is meeting the preconditions of statehood. However, it is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan and is still highly dependent on Armenia for its military security and economic survival. Azeris do not participate in its political, economic, cultural and social institutions. Nagorno-Karabakh has mono-ethnic institutions and has become one of the world's most militarized societies.

Deprived of the basic right to return to their homes, over half a million Azeris displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts have become highly dependent on the Azerbaijani state, without a clear sense of their future. Armenian and Azerbaijani public opinion on how to resolve the conflict is as divided as ever. Nothing has been done to prepare people in either country for any agreement.

For many historical, demographic, geographical, and economic factors, Azeris and Armenians living in and around the conflict zone are dependent on each other. Yet they are deeply divided by mistrust. Demonization of the "other," rising military expenditures, and increasing ceasefire violations are all ominous signs that time for a peaceful settlement may be running out.

In 2005 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed Resolution No 1416 regarding Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Resolution highlights the fact of occupation of the Azerbaijani lands by Armenia. The Resolution says that non-settlement of the conflict presents serious threats. The control on implementation of the PACE Resolution is made by the PACE Ad Hoc Committee for Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 2006 the co-chairs of the Minsk Group (France, Russia, the U.S.), authorized by the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) to facilitate negotiations, proposed principles for settlement: renunciation of the use of force; Armenian withdrawal from parts of Azerbaijan surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh; an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh, with substantial international aid, including peacekeepers; and mutual commitment to a vote on Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status after the return of displaced Azeris.

Oil money has given Azerbaijan new self-confidence and the means to upgrade its armed forces. It seems to want to postpone any peace deal until the military balance has shifted decisively in its favor. Yerevan, which itself has done surprisingly well economically, has also become more intransigent and increased its own military expenditures. It believes that time is on its side, that Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto independence will become a reality increasingly difficult to ignore, especially after the independence of Kosovo was proclaimed and widely recognized.

Goals and objectives

  • To promote the Universal Peace Federation's vision and concept of “Peace in the heart - peace in the family – peace in society – peace on the planet”
  • To concentrate public attention on the urgent need to take steps towards the peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
  • To set up a  sustainable and effective coalition of Ambassadors for Peace and other people of goodwill to deal with the conflict
  • To facilitate dialogue between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno-Karabakh, and to involve state bodies in peace efforts, resulting in efficient mechanisms of communication and negotiation
  • To establish international contacts with like-minded public associations and movements involved in Nagorno-Karabakh peace process
  • To contribute, by means of service and humanitarian assistance projects, to human development and human security of the population of Armenia and Azerbaijan, especially of those living in the conflict zone, and of the displaced persons and refugees.

Proposed activities

  • Preliminary discussion of the South Caucasus Peace Initiative by the Russian National Peace Council
  • Informal consultations involving Armenian and Azeri Diaspora in Moscow, to enlist their support, and to facilitate contacts in Armenia and Azerbaijan
  • Special sessions on peacebuilding in the South Caucasus during UPF international events
  • A special International Leadership Conference on Nagorno-Karabakh

Background information is based on findings and publications of the International Crisis Group.

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