Translation

I haven’t written about it here before, and of course there are other better-known conflicts around, but my colleague and I have been trying to flag up the current crisis over Nagorno-Karabakh, where the international mediators have issued (privately of course) a statement to the effect that they are giving up on the peace process.

It’s not helped when the two sides wilfully mistranslate statements made even by outsiders.

My colleague made this statement to an Azeri journalist:

The most important text to consider is the statement made by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs at the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 22 June, 2006. This statement provides a coherent and unified approach to the resolution of the conflict. It is perhaps the most open and critical statement the OSCE Minsk Group has ever made.

It is also the first time since the start of the Minsk Group facilitated negotiations in 1994 that the co-chairs have said that they see no point in continuing their work. I am very surprised that few in Azerbaijan or in Armenia are commenting on this point. The Minsk Group statement means in practice that there is no longer any internationally facilited negotiations format for the resolution of the NK conflict.

What does this mean? Will the two sides manage to negotiate on their own without any third party mediation? Will another mediator appear? If the United States, Russia and France are giving up, what other international forces have the influence and authority to play a negotiator role? I don’t believe that any new mediators will appear. Rather we are entering a very dangerous phase where there will be no peaceful negotiations between the sides. Again since 1994 this is the first time that we are in such a situation.

The Azeris printed it thus in Russian (significant changes in bold):
The text of the statement made by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs at the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 22 June, 2006 is a document very important for consideration. This statement provides a clear and unified approach to the resolution of the conflict. It is perhaps the most sincere and self-critical statement the OSCE Minsk Group has ever made.

Because for the first time since the start of the Minsk Group facilitated negotiations in 1994 the co-chairs started to speak about inanity of their work. I am very surprised that there is too few talk in Azerbaijan or in Armenia about this. In fact the Minsk Group statement says that there is no longer any internationally facilited negotiations format for the resolution of the NK conflict.

It turns out that the two sides will manage to negotiate on their own without any third party mediation? Will another mediator be appointed? If the United States, Russia and France are giving up, what other international forces have the influence and authority to play a negotiator role? I don’t believe that any new mediators will appear. We gradually enter a very horrific phase where there will be no peaceful negotiations between the sides. Since 1994 this is the first time that we are in such a situation.

And the Armenian press then picked it up from the Azeri press and translated it back into English thus:
The statement submitted by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs in Vienna June 22 to the OSCE Permanent Council is a very important document, International Crisis Group Caucasus project director Sabine Freizer said. In her words, the statement maintains a common approach to the conflict settlement. “It appears to be the most sincere and self-critical statement made by the mediators so far, as for the first time since the beginning of the talks in 1994 they have declared of inanity of their activities,” Freizer said.

She said she is surprised that Armenia and Azerbaijan hold little talk about it. “As a matter of fact the OSCE Minsk Group’s statement proves the absence of any international format of the talks. It turns out that the sides can proceed with the talks without mediators. Will another mediator be appointed? If the United States, Russia and France recede which international forces possess sufficient authority for performing the mediating mission I do not believe in a new mediator. We gradually enter a horrific stage where there is no place for peaceful talks between the sides. Such situation has occurred for the first time since 1994″.

I think the Armenians twisted it slightly more than the Azeris, but it is a close call.

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