Will France represent EU in Minsk Group?

Azat Artsakh – Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)
March 26, 2004


According to the foreign minister of Azerbaijan V. Guliev, the OSCE
Minsk Group co-chairmen have certain suggestions, which will be
discussed at the upcoming meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia
and Azerbaijan in Prague. `The co-chairmen first of all wish to
present the ideas to the foreign ministers of these two countries and
summing up the results of the meeting to visit the region once again,’
he said. In his turn the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Solomon Passy
mentioned during his regional visit to the Caucasus that what is the
duty of Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot be expected from the OSCE. `We
were rather close to the settlement of the problem when Heidar Aliev
was the president, especially during the last two years. But Ilham
Aliev brought everything to the zero level. We cannot erase everything
and start from a blank page,’ said the minister of foreign affairs of
Armenia Vardan Oskanian. The Azerbaijani party suggested a new variant
of the negotiation process. The European Union could task the OSCE
Minsk Group co-chairman France to act in the name of this organization.
Another variant is, according to Azerbaijani vice foreign minister
Azimov, the participation of the European Union together with the OSCE
Minsk Group. During his recent visit to the region the special
representative of the European Union on South Caucasus Heikki Talvitie
defended the opinion that the unsettled problem hinders regional
cooperation. Moreover, in his interview to the radio station `The
Voice of America’ famous political scientist Paul Goble mentioned that
the official messages of Baku saying the conflict with Armenia does
not allow Azerbaijan to make democratic reforms are not true. According
to him, Azerbaijan is not a legal state, there are no civil society
institutions in the republic, elections are not transparent and
fair. Stability in Azerbaijan is also negatively influenced by he
absence of stable state institutions, corruption, serious problems
with democracy, mentioned Goble adding that Azerbaijan only seems to
be a strong state. The announcement of the president of Armenia Robert
Kocharian that Karabakh cannot be annexed to Azerbaijan are not
barefooted. According to the Armenian newspaper `Azg’, the second
article of the project of the agreement achieved by Robert Kocharian
and deceased Heidar Aliev in Key West maintained the unification of
Karabakh to Armenia. The newspaper writes that Heidar Aliev had given
his consent to settle the problem within the framework of the Key West
agreement but later he did not display enough determination and
resolve for its implementation. The foreign minister of Azerbaijan
Guliev announced that he had reminded Voskanian about his promise to
present the documents referring the arrangements on the settlement of
the Karabakh conflict made between the presidents of Armenia and
Azerbaijan in Key West in 2001. According to Guliev, the foreign
minister of Armenia promised to send them by fax soon after returning
to Armenia. `I asked him whether the documents are signed. He said he
did not have any signed documents. Then I said if there are no signed
documents, what agreement may be concerned,’ noticed Guliev. “We
are glad that the foreign minister of Azerbaijan Mr. Vilayat Guliev
agreed at last that a document was achieved during the negotiations in
Key West, even if it is not signed,’ said the speaker of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Hamlet Gasparian. Answering the question
of the reporter of the news agency De Facto about Ilham Aliev’s
variant of starting the negotiations anew NKR president Arkady
Ghukassian mentioned that it would be better if Ilham Aliev himself
explained what he means by starting everything anew. In this context
the special representative of the European Union Heikki Talvitie
mentioned that the question of involving South Caucasus in the program
`Larger Europe; New Neighbours’ will probably solved positively by
June of this year. Addressing the summit in Bratislava the foreign
minister of Armenia Vardan Oskanian mentioned that at the beginning of
the 1990’s the question of membership of the countries of the South
Caucasus to the Council of Europe was solved by the resolution about
affiliation of the three Caucasian countries to the Council of
Europe. In 1992 first Georgia then Armenia and Azerbaijan became
members of the Council of Europe. This circumstance was very important
to each of the three republics in regard with development of
democracy, maintenance of human rights and the rule of law. A month
ago in Brussels the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
charged the European Commission to extend the proposal of including
South Caucasus in the undertaking `Larger Europe; New Neighbours’.
`But it should be stated clearly that the Council of Europe provides
prospects but does not give promises. It is not only important to
maintain order each at their `home’ but also in the whole region.
Recently the president of Georgia Sahakashvili visited Yerevan and
Baku. In Armenia and Azerbaijan he spoke about unified Caucasus, free
trade area and deeper integration. But there are a number of serious
obstructions to the integration of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and
regional cooperation. The most important is the conflict in Karabakh.
This confrontation must be considered from the point of view of the
future and not the current situation. Therefore, the European
suggestion is the most promising one. On this way it is possible to
promote not only the democratic processes and process of maintenance
of human rights and the rule of law but also to consider the regional
and ethnic conflicts from the aspect of global processes. If we
succeed in this respect we will be able to provide progress for
complicated issues such as the conflict of Karabakh,’ said Vardan