Bulgarian FM continues shuttle between Armenia, Azerbaijan

Bulgarian News Network, Bulgaria
March 18 2004

Bulgarian foreign minister continues shuttle between Armenia, Azerbaijan

SOFIA (bnn) – Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Solomon Passy urged
Wednesday Armenia’s leaders to resume talks with Azerbaijan about the
future of the latter’s Armenian-dominated breakaway province of
Nagorno Karabakh, the BGNES news agency reported.

Passy, who is chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe, met Armenia’s Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan and
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan. He was scheduled to meet President
Robert Kocharyan later in the day. On Tuesday Passy held talks on the
Nagorno Karabakh issue with Azeri President Ilham Aliev.

Azerbaijan’s autonomous region of Nagorno Karabakh, which is
populated mainly by Armenians, petitioned to become part of Armenia
towards the end of the Soviet era. Serious fighting erupted in 1991
and in the following two years Armenian forces gained control of
Nagorno-Karabakh and occupied almost 20 percent of Azeri territory.

The leaders of the Nagorno-Karabakh region have declared
independence, though this status has not been recognized by any
state. The fighting between Azeris and Armenians left more than
15,000 dead.

Armenian leaders on Wednesday voiced readiness for negotiations with
Azerbaijan, but emphasized on what they see as Azerbaijan’s ethnic
Armenians’ right of self-rule, the report said.

Passy met also the head of Armenia’s Apostolic Church Garegin II, who
also spoke in favor of dialog with Azerbaija, the agency said. /bnn/