Expecting Progress


Azat Artsakh – Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)
02 July 2004

In the framework of the regional visit the special representative of
the EU on the South Caucasus Heikki Talvitie was in Stepanakert on
June 29-30. Heikki Talvitie summed up the results of the visit during
the press conference. He mentioned that his mandate is not limited to
coordination of relationships between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan
and Georgia but supposes aid for the peaceful regulation of the
regional conflicts. Heikki Talvitie stated that the EU pays serious
attention to the South Caucasus and would like the countries of the
region to profit from the possibilities provided. In particular it was
mentioned that Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are already involved in
the program ` Wider Europe: New Neighbours’. Speaking about the role
of the EU inthe peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Heikki
Talvitie mentioned that in 1996-1998 he was the co-chairman of the
OSCE Minsk Group on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and
naturally is directly acquainted with the conflict. He emphasized that
formerly the EU was for implementing rehabilitation programs in the
Karabakh conflict area only after the political settlement of the
issue but now the situation has changed. The EU intends to implement a
progressive policy and undertake projects for maintaining an
atmosphere of mutual confidence and restoration of the economy and
communications as soon as there is the least progress in the
negotiation process. Heikki Talvitie did not say whathe meant by
saying progress but he pointed out that there are situations when we
have to understand once another. In regard to the negative reaction of
Azerbaijan to the upcoming elections to the municipalities in NKR
Heikki Talvitie mentioned that the European Union has not yet worked
out mechanisms for dealing with such situations. He said that similar
situation occurred in Abkhazia, and now the EU is thinking whether to
send there official observers or not. According to him, most probably
they will send representatives of non-governmental organizations. He
also emphasized that each society must organize their lives themselves
and not to wait for the interference of the international community.

Actually the representative of the EU confessed the simple truth
against which Baku makes appeals. Heikki Talvitie mentioned the
importance of the settlement of conflicts for the development of the
region. In this context he pointed out that the new policy of the
Georgian authorities and their attempt to establish relationships with
Russia shifted the process of peaceful settlement to a new plain. Now
the restoration of communications is considered. The same will be
possible in the Karabakh conflict area again in the case of progress
in the peaceful process for which the OSCE is responsible. As Heikki
Talvitie mentioned at the beginning of the press conference, it is
impossible to assist to the peaceful process not being in Karabakh. He
emphasized that he came to get acquainted. In this reference the
representative of the EU emphasized that he noticed significant
differences between the present situation and the situation ten years
ago. He said that the people of Karabakh managed to restore much with
their own efforts and this corresponds to the interests of the EU. He
mentioned that during the meetings they clarified the frames of what
the EUcan do for Karabakh. According to him, for this first of all the
wish and will of the conflict parties is required. At this moment
three countries of the region are involved in the program `Wider
Europe: New Neighbours’, said Heikki Talvitie answering the question
what status the EU accepts for Karabakh. Although he added that they
try to view the region as one entity. Heikki Talvitie mentioned that
he does not expect miracles from his visit because the negotiation
process lasting for ten years did not produce results. However, he
hopes that there will come the time when an atmosphere of confidence
will be established and they will try to understand one another.