YEREVAN, October 6 (Itar-Tass) —— French President Nicolas Sarkozy said international mediators cannot bring make peace for Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“There exists one format to bolster the efforts of the international community for the settlement of the Karabakh problem - the Minsk Group. Each of three Co-Chair states enjoys the confidence of two sides and is involved in the process of definition of conditions for conflict settlement,” Sarkozy said in an interview with the Mediamax news agency ahead of his visit to Yerevan to begin on Thursday, October 6.
“But the Armenians and Azerbaijanis themselves should find this path first of all. We can help, escort but we can never establish peace instead of you,” he said.
He stressed that France is one of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“Speaking about Armenia and Azerbaijan, many experts often recall the experience of France and Germany in the period following the World War II, when despite the existing antagonism, Paris and Berlin found the strength for reconciliation, and today they are one of the closest allies and leaders of the EU… The history of France and Germany shows that even the biggest pain can be softened and the deepest hatred can be overcome, and even during the most difficult moments of their history peoples can find the strength for reconciliation,” the president said.
He recalled, “By the time our countries chose reconciliation, they had had three conflicts with each other during several decades. During the World War I, France and Germany fought tooth and nail. Our countries found the strength for reconciliation and had built a strong friendship on the fragments of World War II, accompanied by horrors and sufferings. This friendship is the cornerstone of European construction today.”
In order to have this, “our countries needed such extraordinary people like General de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer. They exhibited courage necessary for reaching peace, since sometimes more courage is needed for establishing peace than for continuing the war. Being real statesmen, only several years after the war they managed to persuade their peoples that peace has no alternative and each of the sides should overcome its hatred and continue the path to peace and cooperation,” Sarkozy said.
He believes that “Armenians and Azerbaijanis, should chose this path”.
“The time has come for you to make a risky choice for peace, as there is no bigger danger than the preservation of status-quo which gives birth to illusions, provokes revenge and moves off all the prospects for peace,” he said.
“No other country, but France, can imagine what Nagorno Karabakh means for Armenia. However, 17 years after the war, which had caused so many deaths and sufferings, the time has come to resolve the conflict and find the way to reconciliation. I'll also deliver this message to President Aliyev in Baku, where I am leaving after my visit to Armenia,” Sarkozy said.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said earlier that his country would do everything it can to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue peacefully.
“We will do everything we can to solve the Karabakh problem peacefully,” the president said.
“The [settlement] process is underway, and we are acting constructively in this process,” Sargsyan said.
He said that allegations about international pressure on Armenia were “an exaggeration”.
“The co-chairing countries [in the OSCE Minsk Group] are seeking to harmonise the positions of all conflicting parties - Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan,” the president said. “This process has proved difficult, but that's how it should be - we have never expected an easy solution.”
“We will do our best to find a fair solution,” Sargsyan said. “The stronger we are, the more combat capable our army is, the better our positions at the talks will be,” he said.
However Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could be resolved only if the territorial integrity of his country was ensured.
“The conflict can be resolved only with in the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. There is no other solution, and I have no doubts that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity,” the head of state said.
He stressed that Azerbaijan was seeking to solve the issue “peacefully”.
“We hope for a peaceful resolution yet. To this end, the Armenian side should unconditionally comply with the resolutions of international organisations, including the U.N. Security Council, free the occupied territories, and Azerbaijani citizens should return to their homes. After that peace and stability will come to the region,” Aliyev said.
He said the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the “biggest source of threat” in the region.
Azerbaijan and its people “will never allow a second Armenian state to be created on their historical land”, he said.
“Nagorno-Karabakh will never get independence. The people who live in Nagorno-Karabakh now, and the Azeris will certainly return there should live in autonomy. This is a well known international approach,” the president said.
He made it clear that Azerbaijan would “never step aside from its position of principle”.
Aliyev urged Armenia to continue peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh.