FM says next meeting with Azerbaijan over disputed enclave in May

Armenian foreign minister says next meeting with Azerbaijan over disputed
enclave will be in May

AP Online
Apr 19, 2004

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said Monday that he planned
to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart in May to continue
discussions on resolving the countries’ dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Oskanian said that the meeting he held last week in Prague with
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov was useful but did not
break new ground.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave within
Azerbaijan. Ethnic Armenian forces drove out Azerbaijan’s army from
the region in the 1990s and ethnic Azeris fled. Since a 1994
cease-fire, Nagorno-Karabakh has been run by an internationally
unrecognized government.

Despite the cease-fire, shooting still breaks out sporadically across
the so-called “line of control,” a demilitarized strip separating
Azeri and Armenian forces.

The unresolved status of Nagorno-Karabakh keeps tensions high between
the countries and apparently discourages foreign investors fearful of
a new outbreak of fighting and instability.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani officials met under the auspices of the
“Minsk Group,” an arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe devoted to resolving the dispute. The Minsk Group is led by
a troika of diplomats from the United States, France and Russia.

The newly appointed top U.S. official for the group, Stephen Mann, met
on Monday with Armenian officials.

“What I will be doing in this position is representing the
U.S. national interests and it is in the American national interest to
work for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh
issue,” Mann told reporters.