BAKU: Armenian leader avoids meeting Azeri counterpart – minister

Armenian leader avoids meeting Azeri counterpart – minister

Azad Azarbaycan TV, Baku
20 Mar 04

[Presenter] The Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers had an
informal meeting at an international conference in Bratislava,
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliyev said in an interview with
ATV on his return home last night.

Speaking about the details of the talks, Mr Quliyev said that the
Armenian side was to blame for the fact that the presidents of the two
countries failed to meet in Bratislava.

[Reporter over video of the conference] During the informal meeting
with Vilayat Quliyev in Bratislava, Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan
Oskanyan failed to substantiate his accusations against the Baku
government. Some time ago, Oskanyan described as groundless Mr
Quliyev’s statement that the talks on the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict
should start from scratch. He stressed the importance of the talks in
Paris and Key West and said that if need be, he could submit the
papers to the Azerbaijani foreign minister.

[Vilayat Quliyev, in office] I reminded him of his statement and told
him to show me the papers. He said that he would send them by fax on
his return to Yerevan. I asked whether the papers had been signed. He
said he did not have signed papers. I said – if there are no signed
papers, then what kind of agreement could we talk about?

[Reporter] The minister said the Bratislava conference was a good
opportunity for a meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian
presidents and pointed out that this did not happen precisely because
of the Armenian side.

[Vilayat Quliyev] The Armenian president first declared his intention
to go to Bratislava. His name was on the programme. But when
Azerbaijan also declared that it would be represented in Bratislava by
the president, the Armenian side immediately changed its mind. This
shows that the Armenian president is not ready for such a meeting or
avoids it.

[Reporter] Vilayat Quliyev also said that Vardan Oskanyan, who levels
new accusations against Baku in the Armenian press every day, looked
much milder at the meeting. Quote, such statements were not voiced at
our meeting and they could not be voiced because it is only Armenia
which is responsible for the conflict situation in the region, end