Fischer urges concessions on NK from Armenia, Azerbaijan

Agence France Presse
April 22, 2004

Fischer urges concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia,


German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer Thursday called on Armenia
and Azerbaijan to make concessions in their dispute over the
Nagorno-Karabakh enclave during a tour of the Caucasus region.

“To achieve peace in the region, you have to make concessions,”
Fischer told reporters after meeting with Armenian President Robert

“In Baku as in Yerevan, everybody speaks of conditions,” said
Fischer, who was in Azerbaijan the previous day.

“But eventually neighbors are obliged to find a consensus” on
Nagorno-Karabakh, he said.

Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia went to war in the early 1990s
when Nagorno-Karabakh, mainly populated by Armenians, seceded from
Azerbaijan at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and the two
Soviet Caucasian republics became independent.

More than 30,000 people were killed and another million were left
homeless before a ceasefire was agreed in 1994. But Azerbaijan and
Armenia remain in an undeclared state of war over the enclave.

The United States, along with France and Russia, is a co-chair of the
Minsk Group, a 13-nation grouping within the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that has been seeking to
mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Lingering tensions over the conflict have caused instability in the
Caucasus region, an emerging key crossroads for oil exports from the
Caspian Sea to Western markets.

Separately, Fischer said he hoped that internal unrest in Armenia
“will be resolved in a peaceful manner.”

“Foreign investments are directly dependent on the political
situation in the country,” he warned.

Armenia’s opposition has continuously organized protests in Yerevan
during the past month, with the latest demonstration drawing between
10,000 and 12,000 people to Freedom Square.

The Armenian opposition says that Kocharian rigged a run-off
presidential vote in March 2003 to secure a second term in office and
is demanding that he either organize a national referendum of
confidence in his rule or step down.

On April 13, the police broke up an anti-government demonstration in
the capital Yerevan using water cannon and reportedly injuring dozens
of protestors.