Karabakh: Int’l experts weigh settlement chances

RIA Novosti, Russia
July 25 2004


YEREVAN, July 25 (RIA Novosti) – Stepanakert, capital of the
unrecognized Armenian-populated Karabakh Republic in Azerbaijan,
hosted an international expert team today, who were discussing
prospects for peaceful Armenian-Azeri conflict settlement, announced
the Central Information Board under the Karabakh president.

The visitors held a conference with the republican top to blueprint
measures the conflicting parties should take to pace up settlement.
They called to enhance international involvement in the cause. The
experts also reported their impressions of contacts with Karabakh
authorities and NGO spokesmen.

Leading the delegation is Bruce Jackson, NATO committee head in the
U.S. Senate, in charge of Project Transitional Democracies. The other
delegates are Daniel Twining, director for foreign politics, German
branch of the U.S.-based Marshall Foundation; Ronald Asmus, head
expert of the Marshall Foundation trans-Atlantic relations board;
Randy Scheuneman, Orion strategic center president; Istvan Gyarmati,
Hungary, board chair of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Integration and
Democracy; and Robert Cotrell, European branch editor of the UK-based
journal, The Economist.

A truce was made on Karabakh more than ten years ago. Painstaking
international mediation by the OSCE Minsk group has not brought
settlement a step closer since that day. Occasional skirmishes are
lately reported from the conflict zone day in, day out, the
belligerents shifting the blame on each other.

Azeri authorities are willing to grant extensive autonomy to what
they regard as a rebellious province, but are set on Azerbaijan
retaining it for the sake of territorial integrity. Baku also insists
on regaining long-established Azeri areas bordering on Karabakh and
seized in the warfare, and on Azeri refugees returning home. The
latter demand is a worthy reason for negotiations, agree Armenian and
Karabakh leaders. They, however, would not listen about Karabakh ever
getting back under the Azeri wing.