BAKU: Azeri TV Blasts Russian Mediator’s Stance on NK Talks


Space TV, Baku
15 Jul 04

Azerbaijan’s commercial Space TV has criticized the OSCE Minsk Group
for failing to offer a “specific and real set of proposals” on how to
resolve the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict with Armenia. It also described
as surprising Russian co-chairman of the group Yuriy Merzlyakov’s
“refusal to acknowledge the territorial integrity” of Azerbaijan. On
Nagornyy Karabakh’s participation in the talks, the TV station quoted
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov as saying that this was
not envisaged by the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group. The following is
the text of the report by Azerbaijani Space TV on 15 July; subheadings
inserted editorially:

(Presenter) The co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group arrived in Baku
today. They will be received by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev,
Foreign Affairs Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and other officials. The
co-chairmen say that the (Nagornyy Karabakh) problem has to be
resolved not by them but by the sides to the conflict. Russian
co-chairman Yuriy Merzlyakov said that the conditions are there for a
speedy resolution of the conflict and this opportunity must not be

(Correspondent over video of Merzlyakov) Merzlyakov is unable to point
out the difference between Azerbaijan’s occupied territories and
Nagornyy Karabakh. When asked by journalists today about Armenia’s
withdrawal of its forces from Azerbaijan, Merzlyakov – true to form –
corrected the journalists.

(Merzlyakov in Russian) These are different things. We are talking
about the occupied territories and Nagornyy Karabakh where the
conflict is. You did not formulate it this way. You said the
withdrawal of the Armenian troops from Nagornyy Karabakh. This is not
the same as what you said later – the withdrawal of the Armenian
troops from Azerbaijan. These are different things.

(Correspondent) It is interesting that despite his diplomatic
expertise Merzlyakov did not hide that he was talking about his own
opinion rather than the official stance of the OSCE Minsk Group. At
any rate, no other explanation is possible for his refusal to
acknowledge the territorial integrity of the country he is
visiting. Moreover, despite repeated requests Merzlyakov did not say
which territories he meant when using the term the occupied
territories of Azerbaijan. For some reason, he said instead that he
was satisfied with the talks he has held with the leadership of
Armenia and the self-styled Nagornyy Karabakh Republic (NKR).

(Merzlyakov) I had a useful conversation with Arkadiy Gukasyan
(president of the NKR), Ashot Gulyanov (foreign minister of the
NKR). It was interesting to learn their opinion of the
negotiations. As for Armenia’s proposal – the objective of the
meetings with the Armenian leadership was to recount the evaluation by
the co-chairmen of how the negotiations are going. The talks are now
held on two levels – on the level of the two presidents and on the
level of foreign ministers who are now frequently consulting with the
co-chairmen. There have been three rounds of consultations.

Hence, our main objective was to recount our evaluation and we also
heard the views of high-ranking Armenian officials.

Merzlyakov dismisses Armenian media reports

(Correspondent) After making this at least surprising statement
concerning Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Merzlyakov went on to
make other remarks. He unequivocally dismissed reports by the Armenian
media which quoted him on Nagornyy Karabakh’s participation in the
talks as a side to the conflict. However, he said that he personally
considers this option acceptable.

(Merzlyakov) I have never concealed that in my opinion all the three
sides to the conflict have to take part in the talks. But if the two
sides have decided that this formula works for them, then I agree with

(Correspondent) It seems that our remarks about the OSCE co-chairmen
coming into the region empty-handed were premature (as heard). Once
again the OSCE Minsk Group did not bring any specific and real set of
proposals to Baku, although the conflict has persisted for so many
years. Instead, they expect a ready-made recipe from the sides to the
conflict. This is strange because if the sides were able to find a
settlement on their own, then why would they need the Minsk Group?

The co-chairmen will stay in Baku until 17 July. By then they may
reach a consensus and answer this question on the basis of regional
security and international law.

Mammadyarov on Minsk Group’s mandate

(Presenter) Mammadyarov has said that the Minsk Group has to act
within the mandate given to it by the OSCE.

(Correspondent) The conflict will not be solved without Nagornyy
Karabakh’s participation in the talks, the Armenian media have
reported, quoting Merzlyakov. Mammadyarov has said that the Minsk
Group has to act within the mandate given to it by the OSCE and it
does not envisage Nagornyy Karabakh’s participation in the talks.

(Mammadyarov talking with journalists) The talks are being held
between Armenia and Azerbaijan. When the mandate was issued on 24
April 1992 it said that Azerbaijan and Armenia are sides to the
conflict. The Armenian and Azerbaijani communities (of Nagornyy
Karabakh) are the interested parties. We are working within this

(Correspondent) The talks have intensified in the last six months and
another meeting will be held in August, Mammadyarov said.

(Mammadyarov) Over the last six months there have been two meetings
between the presidents, and three meetings between ministers. Now the
co-chairmen are visiting the region and we plan another meeting in
August. We are working on that now. Probably, it will become clear
tomorrow where we will meet and what we will discuss.