Background

Russia's initial efforts to mediate the conflict failed due to Azeri distrust of Russian intentions. Azerbaijan was also unwilling to accept Russian or CIS peacekeeping forces like those deployed in Abkhazia. With the consent of the UN, the OSCE took on the main role in mediating a settlement in 1992. The OSCE resolved to convene “as soon as possible” a conference that would provide a forum for negotiations to settle the conflict. Though a conference, to be held in Minsk (Belarus) did not take place, the OSCE effort to resolve the conflict came to be called “the Minsk process.” The Minsk process is supervised by the Minsk Group, which consists of representatives of 13 OSCE participating states, including Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan regards the conflict as being between Armenia and Azerbaijan, while Armenia claims not to be a party to the conflict, which supposedly involves only Azerbaijan and the "Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh." For this reason, Armenia and Azerbaijan disagree on the name of the conflict, which is referred to in OSCE documents as "the conflict dealt with by the Minskprocess."

The Minsk Group

In 1994, representatives of France, Russia, and the United States were appointed co-chairmen of the Minsk Group. Their main job was to make visits to the region to talk with the parties, and then report back to the rest of the Minsk Group and the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. In this way it was hoped to bring any Russian initiatives under the OSCE umbrella, so that they would contribute to the Minsk process.

Peacekeeping forces

OSCE participating states expressed themselves willing to deploy peacekeeping forces in the context of a settlement. These forces, should they ever be deployed, will be the first peacekeepers ever to operate under OSCE auspices. A High Level Planning Group, consisting mainly of military officers and located in Vienna, continues to be responsible for working out recommendations concerning how to conduct such an operation.

Personal Representative of the Ci O
Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office on the conflict dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference, during a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 3 November 2011. (OSCE/Jonathan Perfect)

Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office on the conflict dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference, during a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 3 November 2011. (OSCE/Jonathan Perfect)

In January 1997, a Personal Representative of the OSCE Chair-in-Office for the Conflict Dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Process was appointed. The representative has an office in Tbilisi (Georgia) and field assistants in Baku, Yerevan, and Stepanakert (Khankendi). The representative maintains contact with the parties, encourages direct contacts between them, and promotes humanitarian and confidence-building measures.