BAKU: Azeri, Armenian talks in Strasbourg yield no result – paper

Azeri, Armenian talks in Strasbourg yield no result – paper

Ekspress, Baku
13 May 04

The meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers held on
the sidelines of a Council of Europe session in Strasbourg on 12 May
yielded no results, the Azerbaijani newspaper Ekspress has said. The
newspaper quoted the Russian mediator in the talks, Yuriy Merzlyakov,
as saying that the stage-by-stage settlement, which was allegedly to be
discussed at the meeting, was a failure. At the same time, the Armenian
president’s special envoy said that the goal of the meeting was to
update the parties on their positions on the Karabakh settlement. In
accordance with this settlement plan, Armenia is to return the seven
occupied districts around Nagornyy Karabakh in exchange for the
reopening of the railway link with Azerbaijan. The following is an
excerpt from Alakbar Raufoglu report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekspress
on 13 May headlined “The Strasbourg meeting yields no results. Yerevan
rejects the ‘option to liberate the seven districts'”:

The Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers, Elmar Mammadyarov and
Vardan Oskanyan, held a meeting in Strasbourg yesterday. The meeting
took place on the sidelines of the 114th session of the committee of
the foreign ministers of the Council of Europe member states. Apart
from the ministers, the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as
the special representatives of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents
for the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict, Araz Azimov and
Tatul Markaryan, participated in the talks. This was the second meeting
of the new Azerbaijani foreign minister with his Armenian counterpart.

The talks that started at 1700 Baku time [1200 gmt] ended at 2030
[1530 gmt]. After expanded three-hour discussions, the ministers
held tete-a-tete talks. After the talks, the foreign ministers left
without making any statement for the media.

“We managed to hold quite an open and successful meeting,” Russian
co-chairman Yuriy Merzlyakov told Ekspress after the meeting. But
since the talks were “strictly confidential”, it was decided not to
provide information about the ministers’ dialogue.

The discussions were aimed mainly at “familiarization with ideas”,
and the mediators informed the parties about new proposals. “The
participants in the meeting were also made aware of the Azerbaijani
option on seven districts [Armenia returns the seven occupied districts
around Nagornyy Karabakh in exchange for the reopening of transport
links between the two countries],” Merzlyakov said. “What was most
important for us was to compare the positions of the conflicting
parties and to search for possibilities to continue the dialogue.”

Although the Russian diplomat said nothing specific about Armenia’s
stance on the return of the seven districts, he admitted that this
option was a failure. “The position on this settlement option was
equivocal from the very beginning, and therefore, I was against
discussing this idea on its own. But no-one listened to us,” said
Merzlyakov regretfully.

During the talks, Mammadyarov once again voiced the Baku government’s
stance on the settlement. “Our position is unchanged: Azerbaijan
will never agree to Nagornyy Karabakh being independent or part
of Armenia. Any new settlement proposal should be based on these
principles,” the minister said.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a joint statement by the two
countries’ foreign ministers yesterday evening. The statement says
that the meeting of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen and the Armenian
and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Strasbourg “opened an opportunity
to discuss future prospects”.

According to the statement, Armenia and Azerbaijan “stated once again
that they were interested in the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh
conflict and agreed to continue this useful dialogue”.

The major achievement of the meeting is that the parties agreed to
continue the talks. “We did not focus on specific options, but simply
expressed our views,” the special representative of the Azerbaijani
president for the Karabakh settlement, Araz Azimov, told [the Armenian
news agency] Mediamax after the meeting.

He also commented on the recent calls for war in Azerbaijan and
Armenia. In the official’s opinion, in the current situation, peace
talks “are the best option, and the talks have not run out of their
potential”. Azimov said that the next meeting of the foreign ministers
“will be agreed by the parties, depending on the situation”.

The special representative of the Armenian president, Tatul Markaryan,
also described the talks as “very useful” at a news conference in
Strasbourg yesterday evening. “No new proposals were put forward. The
goal of the meeting between the ministers and the OSCE Minsk Group
co-chairmen was to clarify the parties’ stance, to learn the other
side’s views and to find a common position,” he said.

Asked by French journalists to comment on Azerbaijan’s proposal that
the seven districts be vacated in exchange for the reopening of the
railway link, Markaryan said that Armenia was against this option and
that the Karabakh problem could be resolved only under the “package
settlement” plan. “This is not a conflict just between Armenia and
Azerbaijan, this is also a problem of ensuring the Karabakh people’s
independence and security,” the Armenian diplomat added.

[Passage omitted: Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the Karabakh
cease-fire agreement]

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