BAKU: Azeri Minister to Discuss Russia’s Karabakh Efforts in Moscow


Zerkalo, Baku
14 Aug 04

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will pay an official
visit to Moscow on 17 August at the invitation of his Russian
counterpart. It is noteworthy that Mammadyarov will go to Moscow
immediately after visits to Azerbaijan by Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami and US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. That is why one
can be 100-per-cent sure that the Russian capital is looking forward
to Mammadyarov’s visit because the Kremlin is hardly indifferent to
the results of these visits to Azerbaijan, especially their
confidential aspects. For example, in Baku Rumsfeld did not hide that
he had an interest in the talks between Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev and Khatami.

In an interview with our Zerkalo correspondent, Mammadyarov said that
this is his first official visit to Moscow after his appointment to
the post (of foreign minister). “I was appointed foreign minister on 2
April this year. But Mr (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov was
appointed several months after that.

“The main issue that will be raised by the Azerbaijani side during
this visit is Russia’s role as a mediator and co-chairman of the OSCE
Minsk Group in settling the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagornyy Karabakh
conflict. This is a fundamental issue for us. That is why there is no
doubt that we will hold detailed discussions of this issue. The second
package of issues which will definitely be discussed during the visit
are related to economic relations between the two countries.”

(Passage omitted: The intergovernment commission is working actively;
ties between the two ministries and international issues will be
discussed as well)

Although the current world is different from the world of the early
1990s, Mammadyarov believes that “along with the other co-chairmen of
the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia is playing a major and even a key role in
settling the conflict”. He said Azerbaijan’s position was that it
would be impossible to achieve stability in the region without
resolving this conflict: “That is why we believe that a politically
stable and economically strong Caucasus is of benefit to all the
countries that have their interests in our region.”

Mammadyarov said that Russia has “deeper relations with Armenia” and
strong interests in Azerbaijan, at least from an economical
viewpoint. “As for Russia’s position on this issue, growing numbers of
people believe that if Russia is interested in settling the conflict,
peace will be established in our region very quickly,” Mammadyarov

Generally speaking, there is a strange situation in the talks
process. The declared positions of the sides, at least their official
positions, are absolutely different. In these conditions, frequent
statements are made in society, especially among the military, that
the continuation of the talks has no prospects and it is necessary to
liberate the occupied territories by force. Commenting on the
aforesaid situation, Mammadyarov said: “You and I are talking at the
Foreign Ministry, not at the Defence Ministry. As the foreign
minister, I will back the peaceful option for settling the conflict to
the bitter end. Although, if you are aware of the Foreign Ministry’s
latest statement, you know that Azerbaijan is more and more
disappointed in the destructive position of the Armenian side.

“Armenia’s actions run counter to the purposes and spirit of the talks
held with the OSCE Minsk Group’s mediation. Some staff exercises and
illegal local government elections have been held on the occupied
territories. In addition, resettlement is under way on the occupied
territories. Such actions can hardly have a positive impact on the
talks, during which, as the sides maintain, they are reportedly trying
to achieve peace. It is difficult to hold peace talks in these

But Mammadyarov added that the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, at
least the USA, have already reacted to the Azerbaijani Foreign
Ministry’s statement. “The USA has already voiced its position on
both the military exercises and illegal elections. It said that the
USA recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. The OSCE
chairman-in-office issued a similar statement. The Council of Europe
secretary-general expressed his negative attitude to the events that
have occurred in recent weeks. We, however, believe that if our
attitude to the peace talks is serious and Azerbaijan actually wants
to achieve a breakthrough during the talks, we expect the same
attitude from the opposite side as well,” he said.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS