OSCE reps to hold talks in Baku on settling Karabakh conflict

OSCE reps to hold talks in Baku on settling Karabakh conflict

July 15, 2004 Thursday

By Sevindzh Abdullayeva, Viktor Shulman

Co-chairmen of the Minsk Group, set up by the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for settling the dragged-out
ethnic conflict in Nagorny Karabakh, are holding talks with top-rank
Azerbaijani officials here Thursday.

The OSCE representatives – Yuri Merzlyakov of Russia, Steven Mann of
the U.S., and Henri Jacolin of France – are expected to meet with
President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov.

Politicians in Baku do not expect any special proposals from the three
men on how to settle the conflict between the ethnic Azerbaijanis and
Armenians in and around Nagorny Karabakh that has been smoldering
since the end of the 1980’s, but Minister Mamedyarov does not rule out
that new ideas about stepping up the talks may come up in the process
of discussions.

“The absence of new proposals doesn’t mean that the negotiations have
deadlocked, all the more so that the contours of the new ideas, which
we have discussed with the Armenian side, are getting clear,” he said.

As the three co-chairmen of the Minsk Group addressed a news
conference in Yerevan Wednesday, they indicated there could hardly be
anything new in their proposals now, as resolution of the conflict was
highly contingent on the actions on both Azerbaijani and Armenian

“We believe the sides must not waste time away, and actions must be
taken right now,” said the Russian envoy Yuri Merzlyakov.

“The sides are now working on the agenda of future talks in the light
of changes in the situation after elections in Azerbaijan,” he said.

Steven Mann, a U.S. envoy, said solution of the problem was highly
contingent on the stance that Armenia and Azerbaijan would take, and
the Minsk Group could only help the sides tap the practical solutions.

Armenia and Azerbaijan will bear the brunt of responsibility for
decision-making, and the OSCE leaves it up to them to decide on who
should take part in the talks, Mann said.

The French envoy, Henri Jacolin, said the talks would definitely take
some time, since one or two meetings would by no means suffice to
untangle a conflict like the one in Nagorny Karabakh.

He also warned that there was no external force, including the Minsk
Group that could possibly offer a miraculous solution to the Karabakh

Jacolin stressed the European Union’s great interest in a peaceful
settlement of the dragged-out conflict and in general stability in
Southern Caucasus, in the light of which the Europeans were closely
watching the progress of talks on Karabakh.