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OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship On the Principles of Comprehensive Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armed Conflict (Common State)

November 7, 1998

Being determined to implement a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the norms and principles of international law including principles of territorial integrity of states and self-determination of people, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh agree on the following:

I. Agreement on the Status of Nagorno-Karabakh

The Parties shall conclude an Agreement on status of Nagorno-Karabakh, which includes the following provisions:

Nagorno-Karabakh is a statal and territorial entity in the form of a Republic, which constitutes a common state with Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.

Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh shall sign an Agreement on delimitation of spheres of competence and on reciprocal delegation of powers between their relevant authorities, which shall have the force of a Constitutional Law.

Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh shall establish a Joint Committee, which shall include representatives of the presidents, prime ministers, and chairmen of the parliaments, whose mission shall be to define policies and activities within the sphere of joint competence.

In order to maintain contacts and effect coordination of joint actions, reciprocal representations of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan shall be established in Baku and Stepanakert respectively.

Nagorno-Karabakh shall have the right to establish direct external contacts with foreign states and relevant regional and international organizations in the areas of economics, science, culture, sports and humanitarian affairs through appropriate representations abroad. Political parties and non-governmental organizations in Nagorno-Karabakh shall have the right to establish links with political parties and non-governmental organizations of foreign states.

Nagorno-Karabakh shall participate in execution of the foreign policies of Azerbaijan, with respect to the issues touching upon its interests. Decisions on such issues shall not be taken without consent of the two Parties.

Where it has special interests, the government of Nagorno-Karabakh shall be entitled to have its own representatives in the embassies and consular missions of Azerbaijan accredited in foreign states. Nagorno-Karabakh may also include its experts in Azerbaijani delegations to take part in international negotiations that impinge upon the interests of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The borders of Nagorno-Karabakh shall correspond to the borders of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast. Should there be verification or alterations, these shall be the subject of special mutual agreement between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The borders between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh shall be reciprocally open for free movement by their unarmed citizens. Citizens travelling and conducting business across the borders shall not be subject to customs fees and other tariffs. Their respective governments shall have the competence to grant the right of permanent residence.

Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh shall not use force or threaten to use force to settle disputes.

In the event of disputes or differences that cannot be resolved within the framework of the Joint Committee, the Parties shall be entitled to seek a consultative opinion of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, which shall be taken into account in the final decision. Nagorno-Karabakh shall also enjoy the rights and privileges, listed below that shall be formalized in the Agreement on the Status of Nagorno-Karabakh and endorsed by the Minsk Conference.

  1. Nagorno-Karabakh shall have its own constitution, adopted by .the people of Nagorno-Karabakh through a referendum. This Constitution shall incorporate the provisions of the Agreement on the Status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan shall likewise amend its constitution to incorporate this Agreement. The provisions of that Agreement, and those portions of the Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani constitutions that incorporate them, shall not be changed without the consent of all three parties.
  2. The constitution and laws of Nagorno-Karabakh shall be in effect on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The laws, regulations and executive decisions of Azerbaijan shall be in effect on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh if they do not contradict the constitution and laws of the latter.
  3. Nagorno-Karabakh shall have its own flag, seal and anthem.
  4. Nagorno-Karabakh shall, pursuant to its Constitution, form its own legislative, executive and judicial authorities.
  5. Citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh shall bear as their identification documents Azerbaijani passports carrying the special notation “Nagorno-Karabakh.” The government of Nagorno-Karabakh or its authorized agencies shall have the exclusive right to issue such passports.

The citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh of Armenian descent may emigrate to Armenia and, in the case of a permanent resettlement, they may take up Armenian citizenship in accordance with laws of that country.

  1. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh shall have the right to elect their representatives to the Parliament of Azerbaijan and to participate in the election of the President of Azerbaijan.
  2. Nagorno-Karabakh shall constitute a Free Economic Zone. It shall have the right to issue its own currency notes, which will be in circulation along with Azerbaijani currency notes, as well as the right to issue its own stamps.
  3. Nagorno-Karabakh shall have the right to free and unrestricted transport and communications access to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  4. Nagorno-Karabakh shall possess National Guard (security forces) and police forces formed on a voluntary basis. These forces may not operate outside Nagorno-Karabakh without the consent or special request of the government of Azerbaijan.
  5. The army, security and police forces of Azerbaijan shall not have the right to enter the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh except with the consent of the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities.
  6. The Armenian language shall be the primary official language in Nagorno-Karabakh. The second official language shall be Azerbaijani. Each citizen shall enjoy the right to use his or her native language in all official and non-official contexts.
  7. The budget of Nagorno-Karabakh shall consist of receipts derived from its own resources. The Nagorno-Karabakh Government shall encourage and guarantee investments by Azerbaijanis and foreign companies and persons.

II. Regarding the Lachin Corridor

The question of utilization of the Lachin Corridor by Nagorno-Karabakh, with a view to ensuring unrestricted communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, shall be agreed upon separately, provided Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh do not agree on other arrangements concerning a special status of the Lachin district. The Lachin district shall remain permanently a fully demilitarized zone.

III. Regarding the towns of Shusha and Shaumyan

The Parties agree that all Azerbaijani refugees may return to the places of their residence in the town of Shusha. Their security shall be guaranteed by the appropriate authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh. They shall enjoy equal rights with all citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the right to form political parties, to participate in elections at all levels, to be elected to all legislative bodies and organs of local self-governance, and to serve in state bodies, inclusive law enforcement agencies.

The same rights shall be granted to Armenian refugees on their return to the town of Shaumyan.

Citizens of the towns of Shusha and Shaumyan shall have unrestricted access by road, telecommunications and other links with the rest of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan shall assist in the deployment and activities of the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) missions.

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The Agreement on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh shall be signed by the three Parties and enter into force upon its endorsement by the Minsk Conference.

IV. Agreement on the Cessation of the Armed Conflict

The Parties agree that the agreement on the cessation of the Armed Conflict shall include the following provisions:

I. The Parties renounces the threat or use of force to settle disputes among them. They shall settle all such disputes, including any that may arise in connection with the implementation of the agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict by peaceful means, above all, through direct negotiations or in the framework of the OSCE Minsk process.

II. The Parties shall withdraw their armed forces in accordance with the following provisions and as set forth in detail in Annex 1:

A. In the First Stage, forces along the current line of contact to the east and south of Nagorno-Karabakh shall withdraw to lines delineated in Annex 1, and in accordance with the schedule therein, with due consideration for the recommendations of the OSCE High Level Planning Group (“HLPG”), to facilitate initial deployment of the vanguard of an OSCE multinational force in a militarily sound transitional buffer zone, to separate the Parties along that line and to provide security during the second stage of withdrawals.

B. In the Second Stage, forces shall withdraw simultaneously and in accordance with the schedule set forth in Annex 1 as follows:

(1) Any forces of Armenia located outside the frontiers of the Republic of Armenia shall withdraw behind those frontiers.

(2) The forces of Nagorno-Karabakh shall withdraw behind the 1988 boundaries of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (“NKAO”), with the exception of the Lachin District, until achievement of an agreement on unrestricted communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

(3) The forces of Azerbaijan shall withdraw behind lines delineated in Annex I on the basis of the recommendations of the HLPG and shall withdraw from any territory of Armenia.

(4) Heavy armaments shall be withdrawn to positions specified in Annex 1, on the basis of the recommendations of the HLPG. The OSCE peacekeeping force shall monitor these withdrawals, with requirements for transparency and reporting as set forth in that Annex.

III. The territory subject to these withdrawals shall constitute a Buffer Zone and a Zone of Separation, the details of which are set forth in Annex 2:

A. Upon completion of the withdrawal of forces, the Buffer Zone shall be located around the 1988 boundaries of the NKAO. It may be also located along the northern and southern boundaries of the Lachin District in the event of an appropriate agreement. The Buffer Zone shall be completely demilitarized and unpopulated except for the presence of elements of the OSCE Peace Keeping Operation (PKO).

B. The Zone of Separation shall be demilitarized with the exception of forces permitted to operate for the PKO in cooperation with the Permanent Mixed Commission, as set forth in detail in Annex 2, to include:

(1) Elements of the PKO

(2) Azerbaijani units for border patrolling and demining; and

(3) Azerbaijani civilian police whose numbers and permitted weaponry are delimited by Annex 2.

C. A no-fly zone shall be established in the Buffer Zone and the Zone of Separation in which the Parties shall exclude military flights, with monitoring by the OSCE peacekeeping force as set forth in Annex 2.

D. After withdrawal of forces in accordance with Article II, security in all the regions, which remain under the control of Nagorno-Karabakh, shall be maintained by relevant security forces of Nagorno-Karabakh.

IV. Pursuant to OSCE’s decisions at the 1994 Budapest Summit, the Parties shall invite and facilitate deployment of the OSCE multinational peacekeeping operation (“PKO”) which will act in cooperation with the Permanent Mixed Commission (PMC) and the Armenian-Azerbaijani Intergovernmental Commission (AAIC). The PKO shall monitor the withdrawal of forces and heavy weapons, the exclusion of military flights, the maintenance of the demilitarization regime and the situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier, as set forth in Annex 2.

The peacekeeping operation shall be established pursuant to an appropriate UN Security Council Resolution for an initial period of no more than one year, renewable as necessary upon recommendation of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. The Parties agree that overall duration of the PKO shall be kept to the minimum period necessary in light of the situation in the region and the pace of the comprehensive settlement of the conflict. The Parties shall cooperate fully with the PKO to ensure the implementation of this Agreement, and to prevent any breach in or interruption of the peacekeeping operation.

V. The Parties shall facilitate the safe and voluntary return of displaced persons to their former places of residence within the Zone of Separation, as set forth in Annex 2. The PKF, in cooperation with the Permanent Mixed Commission, will monitor the security of the returnees and promote confidence of all the Parties in the observance of the demilitarization regime in this zone. The Parties shall conduct negotiations to achieve the earliest safe and voluntary return of all other persons not covered by this Agreement or the comprehensive settlement that were displaced by the conflict and by tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1987.

VI. Simultaneously with the withdrawal of forces, the Parties shall undertake immediate measures to open roads, railroads, power, communications, trade and other links, including all work necessary to accomplish this in the shortest possible period, according to the schedule and detailed provisions set forth in Annex 3. The Parties shall ensure unrestricted use of these links to all, including unrestricted access by specific communities to corresponding communities elsewhere in the region. Each Party commits itself to lift all blockades and ensure delivery of goods and people to the other Parties without hindrance. The Parties shall ensure free and safe rail communication to one another.

VII. The Parties shall cooperate fully with the ICRC, UNHCR and other international institutions to ensure (1) prompt and safe return of all persons detained in connection with the conflict, (2) investigation of the fate of those missing in action, (3) repatriation of all remains and (4) unimpeded delivery of humanitarian and reconstruction aid through territories under their control to the regions that have suffered during the conflict. The Parties shall cooperate with the OSCE PKF through the Permanent Mixed Commission to establish confidence-building measures.

VIII. The Parties shall immediately establish a Permanent Mixed Commission (“PMC”) to supervise the implementation of the provisions of this Agreement with regard to issues affecting Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Chairman of the PMC shall be a representative designated by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. The Vice Chairmen of the PMC shall be representatives of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh. The primary responsibility of the PMC shall be to supervise implementation of the Agreement. The responsibilities of the OSCE Chairman shall also include mediation of cases of disagreement and authorization of responses to emergencies such as natural disasters. The PMC shall have Military, Economic, Humanitarian and Cultural, and Liaison Subcommissions. The structure, duties and other details concerning the PMC are set forth in Annex 4.

IX. The Parties shall immediately establish an Armenian-Azerbaijani Intergovernmental Commission (“AAIC”) to assist in the prevention of border incidents between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to conduct liaison between border-guard troops and other relevant security forces of both countries, and to observe and facilitate arrangements for opening roads, railroads, trade, communications, pipelines and other links. The AAIC shall have two Co-Chairs, one from Armenia and one from Azerbaijan. The Commission shall also include a representative designated by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. The structure, duties and other details concerning AAIC are set forth in Annex 5.

X. The Azerbaijan Republic and the Republic of Armenia shall engage in negotiations, bilaterally and multilaterally in appropriate international and regional fora, to ensure the larger security of the region, including military transparency and full compliance with the CFE Treaty.

XI. Each Party shall fully respect the security of the other Parties and their populations; undertake to promote good-neighbourly relations among their peoples, facilitating trade and normal interaction among them; and refrain from statements or actions that could undermine this Agreement or good relations.

XII. In addition to the specific provisions concerning peacekeeping and monitoring of withdrawals set forth above, and recalling the relevant principles and commitments of the OSCE, including those reflected in the Helsinki Document of 1992 and the Budapest Document of 1994, the OSCE, through appropriate mechanisms, shall monitor the full implementation of all aspects of the present Agreement and take appropriate steps, in accordance with those principles and decisions, to prevent and respond to violations of the terms of this Agreement.

XIII. The Agreement on the Cessation of the armed conflict shall be signed by the three Parties and shall enter into force upon its endorsement by the Minsk Conference and ratification by Parliaments of the three Parties.

XIV. The Azerbaijani Republic and the Republic of Armenia shall establish full diplomatic relations, with permanent diplomatic missions headed by ambassadors, following signature of the agreements and their endorsement by the Minsk Conference.

V. On Guarantees

  1. The Parties shall take upon themselves mutual commitments to ensure compliance with the aforementioned Agreements, including guarantees of the security of Nagorno-Karabakh, its population and those refugees and displaced persons returning to the places of their former residence.
  2. The UN Security Council shall monitor implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement.
  3. The Agreement on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Agreement on the Cessation of the Armed Conflict may be signed by the Minsk Conference Co-Chairs as witnesses. The Presidents of France, the Russian Federation and the United States of America affirm the intention of the three countries to work in unison to monitor closely the progress of implementation of the Agreements and to take appropriate measures to promote compliance with this Agreement. The OSCE and the UN Security Council shall adopt appropriate diplomatic, economic or, in extreme cases, military measures in accordance with the UN Charter, should the need arise.