DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia)
March 29, 2004, Monday
UZBEKISTAN SUPPORTS AZERBAIJAN’S CLAIMS IN THE NAGORNY KARABAKH
Official visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Tashkent
ended on March 24. Signing The Declaration of Mutual Strategic
Partnership became the main result of his talks with Uzbek President
Islam Karimov. However, Islam Karimov’s statements related to the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in Nagorny Karabakh aroused the biggest
interest for the meeting of both leaders.
Referring to Azerbaijani sources, Interfax agency has been citing
Uzbek president: “Mikhail Gorbachev and his team” had become a cause
which had given rise to the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. Mr. Karimov
accused former Soviet president of doing nothing to avert the
conflict; therefore, he’s supposed to be responsible for it. In
opinion of Uzbek president, package settlement of the conflict has no
future. The by-stage principle seems more practical to him.
“Liberation of the occupied areas if the first and indispensable
step,” Mr. Karimov said and noted that the Armenian side won’t like
his words. In his opinion, the status of Nagorny Karabakh could only
be defined after that.
This evaluation of, probably, most hard-to-solve and inveterate
conflict in post-Soviet area obtained from a CIS leader is an
extraordinary event. Mentioning the Karabakh problem, all CIS states
usually recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. None of
them dared to take the side of any particular conflicting party like
Mr. Karimov has done that.
It should be admitted that the stance of the Uzbek president looks
consistent. As far back as 1999, explaining the causes of Tashkent’s
withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty (CST), Mr. Karimov
noted his disappointment for functioning of this structure. In his
words, Russia was reinforcing Armenia, one of the conflicting
parties, since the arms supplies to that country amount to $1
billion. Meanwhile, this was when Azerbaijan pulled out of the CST.
Source: Vremya Novostei, March 25, 2004, p. 5
Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin