BAKU: OSCE Chair Calls on Azerbaijan, Armenia to Continue NK Talks

16 March 2004


BAKU, 16 March 2004 – The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Bulgarian Foreign
Minister Solomon Passy, has called upon the sides involved in the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to continue dialogue without any preconditions.

Speaking in Baku, on Tuesday, the Chairman-in-Office said: “The key to the
solution is in direct dialogue.”

“The OSCE is always prepared to be a facilitator. We can offer many
scenarios on the resolution of the conflict but it will all be just
laboratory work until both Azerbaijan and Armenia reach an agreement at the
table. The only scenario that will work is the one which is negotiated
directly, with mutual compromises.”

Nagorno-Karabakh was one of the main topics in discussions which the OSCE
Chairman-in-Office held with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

During his visit to Baku, the Chairman-in-Office also met Prime Minister
Artur Rasi-Zade, the Speaker of Parliament, Murtuz Aleskerov, and Foreign
Minister Vilayat Guliyev, as well as opposition leaders and representatives
of non-governmental organizations.

Minister Passy said the OSCE Minsk Group was working very hard to help
achieve a solution to the conflict. “But the OSCE is not capable of miracles
and can’t impose a ready solution. History teaches us that with conflicts
time always works against us. The later a solution is found, the more
painful it may be for the people of the region.”

The Chairman-in-Office expressed hope that education, a priority of the
Bulgarian OSCE Chairmanship, would eventually play a role in resolving the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In particular, he noted the importance of having
accurate and objective history books.

“We must invest in the education of the next generation,” the Minister said.
“If we allow our children to be misled by propaganda, the next generation
will find it hard to be objective and walk away from old scars.”

Another topic in the discussions was the follow-up to the recommendations to
the report of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
on the conduct of the Presidential Election of 15 October last year.

“I believe we may now move on, utilizing the lessons learned and thereby
opening the way to free and fair municipal elections, scheduled for later
this year,” the Chairman-in-Office said. “I trust they may provide a
substantial platform for building public confidence across the political

Minister Passy also brought up the question of disturbances after the
October election and the arrest of a number of people who are now awaiting
trial. He said he had a positive reaction on this issue from President

“I am pleased to note that court proceedings are now underway. It is my
fervent hope that the process will be transparent and the judgements fair
and appropriate,” he said.

Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
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