BAKU: US co-chair calls on Baku to compromise

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
April 29 2004

US co-chair calls on Baku to compromise

The Azerbaijani public was disappointed by the results of the
meetings of Steven Mann, the newly-appointed US co-chair of the OSCE
Minsk Group, who paid a visit to Baku on April 22-23, with President
Ilham Aliyev and the foreign and defense ministers.The public can’t
understand why

Mann called on Baku to compromise with Yerevan. What should
Azerbaijan compromise amidst Armenia’s intention to annex Upper
Garabagh? Such feelings and the demands for President Robert
Kocharian’s resignation in Armenia on the eve of a meeting between
Aliyev and Kocharian – scheduled to be held on Wednesday are unlikely
to facilitate positive results.

Defense Minister rejects Mann’s proposal
In a meeting with Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev, Mann
said it is necessary that Azerbaijan make concessions with regard to
the peaceful settlement of the Upper Garabagh conflict. “If the
conflict settlement takes many years, Azerbaijan and Armenia will
face new problems. The parties therefore should start a dialogue and
stand by it”, Mann said. Abiyev, in turn, said a double standard
approach on the issue is unacceptable, that Armenia is an aggressor
and must be held accountable. Referring to Yugoslavia and Iraq, two
countries that faced military action, Abiyev said that military
action has not been launched against Armenia even though there is
proper legal framework for this. Mann mentioned that Armenia and
Azerbaijan have made a commitment to settle the Upper Garabagh
conflict peacefully and the US supports mutually-acceptable
concessions by both parties to the conf lict. Abiyev replied that
Azerbaijan will make no concessions, the Defense Ministry reported on

Presidential meeting
During a Thursday meeting between the President and the US diplomat,
Aliyev said that Mann is well-known in Azerbaijan as he had
participated in a number of large-scale projects in Azerbaijan and
wished him success in his new position. Touching upon the conflict
over Upper Garabagh, Aliyev stressed that Upper Garabagh and seven
Azerbaijani districts had been under the Armenian occupation for many
years and that Azerbaijan demanded that Armenian aggression be
stopped and its territorial integrity restored. He added that the
OSCE Minsk Group should step up its efforts to resolve the conflict.

US for fair settlement of Garabagh conflict?
Mann, in his turn, said he was pleased to have the opportunity to
visit Baku and meet with the Azerbaijani leader and mentioned the
opening ceremony of the East-West corridor foundation, which gave an
incentive to a number of energy projects. With regard to the Upper
Garabagh conflict, Mann said the U.S. government had put new tasks
before him and that he was keen to accomplish them. He mentioned that
this was his first visit to the region in his new capacity. The US
diplomat stated that the goal of his government was to work with the
parties in the conflict on a fair settlement and that it would
support an agreement reached by the two sides.

At a media briefing, Mann confirmed that he has discussed in Yerevan
and Baku the possibility of a meeting between the Armenian and
Azerbaijani Presidents. He dodged the question about possible
compromises to be made by both sides and said the negotiations “have
not reached this stage yet”. He also confirmed that besides his
position as OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, he will remain the special
envoy on Caspian energy issues. Before arriving in Baku, Mann visited
Yerevan to discuss with the Armenian President, Ministers of Foreign
Affairs and Defense prospects for the conflict settlement. In his
meetings Mann said, “the peaceful settlement of the Upper Garabagh
conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group is based on US
national interests”. Mann stated that he intends to visit Upper
Garabagh but did not specify the date for his visit. At the same time
he said he had a “planned” meeting in Garabagh with the so-called
“Garabagh Foreign Minister” Ashot Gulian. The US diplomat visited
Armenia for the first time in 1978 as a representative of the US
embassy in the USSR. In 1992, he opened the first US diplomatic
representation in Armenia and held the position of the first US
charge d’affairs in Yerevan. In May 2001, Mann was appointed the US
President’s special envoy on Caspian energy issues.

Can Mann break the deadlock?
It appears that Mann’s new mandate as an OSCE MG co-chair is not
limited to Upper Garabagh. He also holds the position of US
President’s special envoy on Eurasia conflicts. It is not by mere
chance that he traveled from Yerevan to Baku through Tbilisi. Mann’s
mission targets settlement of conflicts in the entire South Caucasus
region which impede speedy US political and military deployment in
the region, notably, the Garabagh conflict and the Abkhaz conflict in
Georgia. Also, the US diplomat is probably also responsible for
keeping the situation in Ajaria under control. Therefore, unlike his
predecessors whose mission was limited to the OSCE MG, Mann has vast
credentials enabling him to swiftly respond to the situation. This
means that he is authorized to act according to his mandate just like
Strobe Talbott, who nearly convinced the Presidents of Azerbaijan and
Armenia to sign a peace accord, without consulting other OSCE MG
co-chairs. Therefore, Mann will not be required to coordinate his
visits to the region with the French or the Russian MG co-chairs.
Nonetheless, Mann should keep in mind the failure of Talbott’s
“shuttle mission” on the conflict settlement. Before leaving Yerevan,
Talbott, after discussing the terms for the upcoming peace accord,
reportedly joined the Armenian government officials in a toast for a
successful completion of the talks. It turned out it was too early to
celebrate. The American diplomacy failed to outwit Russian secret
service agents, who acted fast, without waiting for the conflict to
be settled. Before Talbott left Yerevan, a terrorist act was
committed in the Armenian parliament building, killing prime minister
Vazgen Sarkissian, speaker Karen Demirchian and several cabinet
ministers. After the incident, it was nearly impossible to expect
Kocharian to sign a peace accord, even if it was most suitable for

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS