I would focus on the core question of the former residents of Nagorno-Karabakh being able to return. We absolutely believe that this is a very important thing, that first of all, they are guaranteed the right to return. And secondly, that the kind of conditions are created, that will provide them with sufficient security, and a sense of safety that they will wish to do so. Toivo Klaar, the European Union (EU) Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, stated this in an interview to Armenpress.
“And we have said that very clearly from the EU point of view, that all persons who have been displaced should be able to return to their former places of residence if they wish to do so, in safety and security. And, in that sense, this is something that we have been pushing for, in all kinds of different fora. We believe that that is a very important issue that does need to be addressed. But of course, nobody can be forced to return if they don’t wish to. But if they are, the maximum effort should be made to provide them with the kind of conditions that would allow at least a fair number of them to be able to decide to return,” he added.
To the question how he imagines the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan ass the latter continues its expansionist rhetoric and what points should be included in this peace treaty so that it can be called fair and balanced and be sustainable, Klaar responded: ” From my perspective, I think it is important that, on the one hand, you have a treaty, you have a text, which may or may not be very exhaustive in its wording. It all depends on how Armenia and Azerbaijan in the end decide how to frame, how to phrase things in that treaty text. At least as important as the eventual peace treaty, is what you refer to as the implementation, the conditions that come afterwards. And there of course, we talked about the opening of communications, we talked about the delimitation of the border, to me also what is very important is to ensure the kind of conditions along the border, which means that there is a distancing of forces, a genuine sense of security that arises, and that is provided to residents along the border, but also more broadly.
“And then, of course, you have all these issues like, you know, opening of embassies, ensuring opening of direct air links, people being able to travel back and forth. Rhetoric, naturally also, will be an important thing for all concerned.
“After more than 30 years of conflict, it is not only about rhetoric being used by Azerbaijan, there is also in Armenia. There have been statements by different actors and in different contexts. The whole context has to change in terms of really providing a sense for the populations in Armenia and Azerbaijan, that, really, we are in a different world now, in a situation where the South Caucasus can really fulfill its role as crossroads, crossroads of peace in the north-south and east-west directions.
“And so, this is to me at least as important as the signing of a peace treaty text, which, as I say is important, but what follows that is at least as important, so that there’s this real sense of a change in the circumstances.”