BAKU: New OSCE chairman examines conflict situation

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
March 18 2004

New OSCE chairman examines conflict situation

Solomon Passy, Bulgarian Foreign Minister, who took office as the
OSCE chairman on January 1, paid a fact-finding visit to Azerbaijan
on March 15 as part of his tour of the South Caucasus region.

During the visit Passy met with President Ilham Aliyev and government
representatives to learn about the status of the Upper Garabagh
conflict. According to Novruz Mammadov, head of the International
Relations Department of the President’s Palace, the OSCE chairman may
define his standpoint on the conflict after the Baku visit.

“The present-day political situation in Armenia indicates that the
Armenian government was not ready to make compromises,” underlined
Mammadov, stressing that such a standpoint to the conflict is not
good for Armenia.

The new OSCE chairman held meetings with President Ilham Aliyev and
Speaker of the Milli Majlis (parliament) Murtuz Alasgarov on Tuesday.
The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Garabagh and the
strengthening of the OSCE, including the Minsk Group co-chairs’,
efforts to settle the conflict peacefully were a focus of the
meetings. Saying that the international community approaches the
conflict with double standards, speaker Alasgarov reminded the OSCE
chairman about the decisions adopted by the Council of Europe in 2002
and 2004 as well as the United Nations Security Council’s four
resolutions. The Speaker said that Azerbaijan had rejected the
Armenian government’s proposal on the restoration of communications
links in return for the withdrawal of Armenian military forces from
five of the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. The OSCE chairman, in turn,
said the conflict could be solved through dialogue, noting that
Azerbaijan and Armenia should continue talks and take a constructive
position. Passy stressed that the OSCE could only offer its support
during the talks. During the meeting with President, the parties
expressed their confidence that the conflict, which poses a great
threat to the South Caucasus region, would be solved under
international legal norms. It was particularly stressed that the
conflict could be settled only after Azerbaijan’s territorial
integrity was restored and refugees and internally displaced persons
were returned to their native lands. Expressing his satisfaction with
the OSCE chairman’s visit, President Aliyev elaborated on the
positive results of the reforms conducted and democratic processes
underway in the country. Noting that the primary goal is to integrate
into Europe, Aliyev spoke about Azerbaijan’s participation in large
scale international projects.

By Azernews Staff