No breakthrough for Karabakh mission

Associated Press Worldstream
July 16, 2004 Friday 1:53 PM Eastern Time

No breakthrough for Karabakh mission

AIDA SULTANOVA; Associated Press Writer

BAKU, Azerbaijan

Foreign mediators ended a mission to Azerbaijan and Armenia on Friday
without a breakthrough in the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, and the
U.S. representative told the nations that the main burden in reaching
a settlement is on them.

Comments from the American, French and Russian envoys from the
Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe’s Minsk Group,
which has been mediating the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh for nearly
a decade, suggested their latest twice-yearly visit brought little

“The progress or lack of progress, whatever it is, rests in Yerevan
and Baku, and that is an important fact,” the group’s U.S.
co-chairman, State Department official Steven Mann, said at a news
conference in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.

Mann and his French and Russian counterparts also visited the
Armenian capital Yerevan and Nagorno-Karabakh, a largely ethnic
Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan that Armenian-backed forces won
control of in a 1988-94 war that killed some 30,000 people were
killed and drove a million from their homes.

Despite a cease-fire, the two countries continue to face off across a
heavily fortified no man’s land, and shooting occasionally erupts. No
final settlement has been reached, and the conflict continues to
aggravate economic troubles and threaten unrest in the two former
Soviet republics.

The Minsk Group’s French co-chairman, Henry Jacolin, said that forces
in Armenia and Azerbaijan sometimes point to the mediators to explain
the lack of progress. “Instead of blaming those who are negotiating,
it is always easier to look for a scapegoat. We know that we have to
play this role,” he said.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev said the international mediators’
role is “very important,” but added that, “for many years, in spite
of the fact of being involved in the process, there is not progress.”