What was the OSCE Minsk Group’s “Package deal” proposal of June 18, 1997?

The OSCE Minsk Group’s “Package deal” peace proposal (official name: Comprehensive Agreement to Resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict) was introduced to the parties to the conflict by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to the region on July 18, 1997, to reach an overall agreement on a basic framework for a peace plan for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The proposal aimed to find a solution to all aspects of the conflict at the same time, including the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was included in the peace proposals for the first time by the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group.[1] In the introduction to the proposal, the parties to the conflict expressed their commitment to the provisions contained in the UN Charter, to basic OSCE principles and decisions and universally accepted norms in international law, and full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 822, 853, 874, and 884. The proposal urged the parties to cease the armed conflict, reestablish normal relations, and then reach agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status. In Agreement I, the parties to the conflict were called on to resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner, namely to “Renounce the use of armed force to settle disputes among them…and withdraw all armed forces.” However, Agreement II dealt with the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, called on the parties to the conflict to recognize the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia and to establish administrative borders of Nagorno-Karabakh within the borders of Azerbaijan in accordance with the borders of the former NKAO that would have its constitution, flag, seal, and anthem.[2]

Armenia later rejected the proposal under pressure from Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians. It agreed to accept the so-called step-by-step peace proposal that had been introduced to the parties to the conflict by the Minsk Group in September 1997. However, this time Nagorno-Karabakh rejected the new proposal and insisted on returning to the first option, namely the “Package deal.” Referring to the Nagorno-Karabakh proposal to return to the “Package deal” and Armenian rejection, former Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosian said, “we are convinced that an agreement between Karabakh and Azerbaijan over the package solution will not be reached for a long time, perhaps ever. The proposal to return to the package deal, therefore, has as its object not solving the problem but gaining time.”[3] Consequently, the “Package deal” proposal was nullified and became meaningless when Armenia rejected it.

[1] Mammadov, Ilgar, “Mediation Abilities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Case of the Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, Vol. 6, No. 30, 2004, p. 14.

[2] OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmanship, “Comprehensive Agreement to Resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict,” (Package Deal), July 1997.

[3] “Statement by President Levon Ter-Petrossian at National Security Council Session,” January 7-8, 1998. Retrieved from Caucasus Context, Vol. 4, Issue 1, 2007, p. 20.