"I worry that the position of Turkey on this right now is extremely unhelpful. In the past, I can say this, when we were working with [then-presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia] Heydar Aliyev and Robert Kocharyan, we actually had significant support from Turkey on this process. And Turkey was taking steps – though not of them publicly visible – to help make a solution come about," Cavanaugh said.
According to the ex-official, the current stance of Ankara is absolutely different.
"Today the statements by President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan go in a very different direction, which I fear is amplifying the conflict by making Azerbaijan feel it can gain more on the battlefield that it can at the bargaining table," he noted.
Cavanaugh at the same doubted that the regional confrontation might escalate into a direct conflict of third countries, even though Armenia is a Collective Security Treaty Organization member and Turkey is a NATO nation, but warned of miscalculations.
"We saw already in Syria, it is where Turkey shot down a Russian fighter. These things can happen and there could be a miscalculation or mistake that have consequences that are certainly unanticipated," he said.
US, Russia, France 'Can Do A Lot' for Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
The United States, Russia and France, which are the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, can contribute much to bringing about peace to Nagorno-Karabakh, but the will of the warring sides is vital, Carey Cavanaugh said.
"I think they [OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs] can do a lot … I think we have seen in the past working together this diplomatic mechanism that was set up to work on the Nagorno-Karabakh has the potential to help bring about peace," Cavanaugh said.
The three countries, however, cannot force Armenia and Azerbaijan to accept each other’s conditions, but should work together to "craft a compromise solution that will be acceptable to both parties," according to the ex-official.
Cavanaugh recalled that the sides came "pretty close" to resolving the conflict during the Key West peace talks in the US in 2001, in which he was personally involved, but finally failed to reach an agreement.
The diplomat believes that the problem was that the populations of Armenia and Azerbaijan were not ready to accept the solutions, and the leaders did not make it clear enough how that is supposed to work.
The former special negotiator declined to answer whom he considers responsible for unleashing the current escalation and agreed that it is far more important who will be the first to sit down at the negotiating table.
The hostilities in Azerbaijan’s Armenian-dominated breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted on Sunday when both parties accused each other of violating the ceasefire.
Armenia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, which controls most parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, said that Azerbaijan had launched an offensive on the breakaway region, and both declared martial law and mobilization. Azerbaijan has also declared martial law and partial mobilization. Ankara has immediately vowed to support Baku with all the needed means.
Most countries, including Russia, the United States and France, have called on the warring parties to cease hostilities and settle their differences via dialogue. Moscow and Paris have also voiced concerns about the transfer of militants from Syria to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.