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Armenia and Azerbaijan must start real negotiations

Monday, October 31 Armenia and Azerbaijan have pledged "not to use force" to find a solution to their conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, following a summit in Sochi, southwest Russia.

In a joint statement adopted at the end of the summit, Baku and Yerevan pledged "not to resort to force" and "to settle all disputes solely on the basis of recognition of mutual sovereignty and territorial integration.”

The Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders also stressed "the importance of active preparations for the conclusion of a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to ensure long-term and sustainable peace in the region".

Making declarations must be the prelude to real negotiations

We can only congratulate the two heads of State who, for various reasons, wish to stop this conflict which has already caused too many deaths on both sides.

Making declarations must be the prelude to real negotiations. A few weeks ago, the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia had already discussed under the aegis of the European Union. Unfortunately, those talks were not followed by any positive action on the ground.

Our organization "International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue" (ICDD) has been in contact with Azerbaijani and Armenian civil societies for many months. By discussing with them and by going to the Caucasus, we could see that both peoples really want a lasting peace with economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

Civil societies must meet and exchange ideas

For peace to return to the region, civil societies must meet, exchange ideas and propose solutions to politicians.

The first concern of Armenians and Azerbaijanis is the return of missing persons. On both sides of the border, thousands of families are waiting for the return of their loved ones, whether they are alive or dead.

The civil society with the help of civil diplomacy can start real negotiations on that subject so important for the families.

The second concern of Armenians and Azerbaijanis is to build a region where peace can reign. For this to happen, both states must look to the future and not, as the governments are doing now, essentially to the past. Again, civil society can discuss their future.

Working with civil society is important because civil society can perceive what traditional diplomacy cannot understand, which is the good of the people.

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