Armenian agency says Azerbaijan “destroyed” possible NK peace plan

Armenian agency says Azerbaijan “destroyed” possible Karabakh peace plan

Mediamax news agency, Yerevan
29 Mar 04

Armenian news agency Mediamax has claimed that preliminary agreements
were reached during mediated talks between the Azerbaijani and
Armenian leaders in Key West, the USA, in 2001. Under the agreement,
Nagornyy Karabakh and the corridor linking it to Armenia were to go to
Armenia, the agency said, quoting reliable sources. However, the then
Azerbaijani president, Heydar Aliyev, did not think of putting into
practice the Key West agreement, but gained time to ensure the
handover of power to his son. The incumbent Azerbaijani president “is
finishing the game started by his talented father”, the agency
said. The following is an excerpt from report by Armenian news agency
Mediamax on 29 March headlined “Key West agreements dead”; subheadings
inserted editorially:

It became obvious last week that the Paris and Key West [Florida, the
USA] agreements on the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict
reached in the spring of 2001 by the Armenian and Azerbaijani
presidents with the mediators’ participation are “dead”.

Talks started between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents with the
participation of the OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen in Key West three
years ago, on 3 April 2001. The initiative to hold the meetings in Key
West came from the USA – the US cochairman of the OSCE Minsk Group,
Carey Cavanaugh, suggested meeting in Florida after two rounds of
negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Paris
with the active participation of French President Jacques Chirac.

Key West agreement did exist

Mediamax agency has for a long time possessed information from
reliable sources about the content of agreements reached in Key
West. We did not disclose this information taking into account the
fact that formally the Key West agreements remained on the negotiating
table. Today we think we have the right to make public some excerpts
from this document.

Despite the statements by the Azerbaijani authorities about the
absence of a “hardcopy” of the Key West agreements, it was precisely
the “rough draft” of a peace accord drawn up by the mediators after
the Paris meeting that the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders discussed
during the talks in Florida. It was expected that the peace agreement
would be drawn out on the basis of this “rough draft” and that it
would be initialled by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in the
presence of the US, Russian and French foreign ministers at a meeting
in Geneva in June 2001. A final and comprehensive peace agreement was
expected to be signed later in the capital of one of the co-chairing
countries of the OSCE Minsk Group with the participation of George
W. Bush, Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac.

Karabakh was to go to Armenia

Thus, it was written in black and white in the document discussed in
Key West that Nagornyy Karabakh together with the Lachin corridor
[linking Armenia and Karabakh] “shall be handed over under Armenia’s
sovereignty”. That was why Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan
said in Yerevan on 17 March that “the content of talks between
Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents Robert Kocharyan and Heydar Aliyev
had justified the fact that Karabakh representatives were not involved
in them”. Vardan Oskanyan explained that this was a reason for a
recent statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry saying that “if Baku
wants to start the negotiations from scratch it should appeal only to
Stepanakert”.

In exchange, Baku would get back the occupied territories and a
highway linking Azerbaijan and the Naxcivan exclave. Despite rumours
spread by the Armenian opposition that Armenia had agreed to cede the
region of Megri to Azerbaijan, in reality the document said that an
Azerbaijan-Naxcivan highway remained under Armenian control, and the
possible attraction of international peacekeeping forces to ensure its
security would be negotiated further. Moreover, the mediators
presented five highway routes to the parties and only one of them was
contiguous with the Armenian-Iranian border. Preliminary construction
estimates were attached to each route description.

Heydar Aliyev’s “brilliant game”

Heydar Aliyev’s consent to solve the problem this way seemed
unbelievable. That was why, according to Mediamax sources, before the
Key West talks Armenian top negotiators had several times asked Carey
Cavanaugh whether the US mediator was sure that Heydar Aliyev was
really ready to confirm the “Paris principles” on the paper? Every
time Cavanaugh’s answer was affirmative. For this reason, the
statement by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage that “the
parties reached progress but not agreements” in Key West can be
argued, since Heydar Aliyev said “yes” in Florida, i.e. he gave his
preliminary consent, and said “no” a month after he returned to
Baku. Therefore, we have every reason to say that in reality there
were the Key West agreements.

Although Armenian leaders, and in particular Foreign Minister Vardan
Oskanyan, say that Heydar Aliyev was ready to take “decisive steps” to
solve the problem, we think that the late Azerbaijani president played
a brilliant game, pulling the wool over the eyes of both Armenia and
the mediating countries. There is every reason to suppose that Heydar
Aliyev did not really think of putting into practice the Key West
agreements. He was just trying to gain time necessary to pass power to
his son. The policy pursued by Aliyev junior today attests that he is
finishing the game started by his talented father.

Today, when three years have passed since the Key West agreements, we
decided to present in a chronological order all the main developments
and statements of the parties around these talks. In our opinion,
having read this material, any reasonable person will understand that:

a) the Paris and Key West agreements did exist;

b) the mediators were trying to keep in force those agreements until
recently;

c) the previous and current Azerbaijani authorities did everything to
destroy the peace plan drafted with the active participation of
Russia, the USA and France.

[Passage omitted: chronological order of events in 2001-2004]

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