BAKU: Russian deputy speaker apologizes for Karabakh remarks – Azeri

Russian deputy speaker apologizes for Karabakh remarks – Azeri paper

Ekspress, Baku
18 Feb 05

Text of Alakbar Raufoglu report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekspress
on 18 February headlined “Zhirinovskiy has apologized” and subheaded
“‘I have been misunderstood,’ the deputy speaker of the Russian State
Duma says in a letter to Ekspress”

The deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma and the leader of the
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, is sorry
for the remarks he made several days ago about Nagornyy Karabakh,
which caused a strong reaction in Azerbaijan, he said in his letter
to Ekspress yesterday.

“My remarks were misunderstood and deliberately taken out of
context. I am surprised and regretful about such a situation. I
apologize to the people of Azerbaijan and my Azerbaijani friends for
this misunderstanding,” Zhirinovskiy said.

The deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma said at a news conference
in Moscow several days ago that it is necessary to incorporate
[Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of] Nagornyy Karabakh into the CIS. He
said Karabakh is an Armenian territory and “the real name of the
region is Artsakh”.

Of course, Zhirinovskiy’s statement caused great dissatisfaction
in Azerbaijan. Ekspress asked Zhirinovskiy last week to clarify his
statement on Karabakh. Although in his reply, he dissociated himself
from the remarks that Karabakh is an Armenian territory, he still
believes that it is necessary to incorporate the separatist entity
into the CIS.

“I have said and repeat again that in order to resolve the Nagornyy
Karabakh conflict, it is necessary to incorporate the region into
the CIS first and then into Azerbaijan. I was simply misunderstood
and my remarks were taken out of context,” Zhirinovskiy said.

“My remarks do not mean that Karabakh should be recognized as an
independent state. On the contrary, I believe that it is necessary
to increase efforts to resolve the problem and include it into the
format of the CIS.”

In Zhirinovskiy’s opinion, “the Russian government and people have
the same stance on Karabakh” – the settlement of the problem should
meet the interests of both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani diaspora is not happy with the position of the Russian
State Duma’s deputy speaker. Members of the World Azerbaijani Congress
[WAC] appealed to the State Duma yesterday in protest at Zhirinovskiy’s
recent anti-Azerbaijani statements. Our countrymen are demanding in
their letter that Russian parliamentarians express their official
attitude to the deputy speaker’s statement on Karabakh.

“We believe that for the sake of Russia’s integrity, it is unacceptable
for a member of parliament who regards himself as a patriot to
support the separatists, which is an affront to the Russian people,”
the message reads.

According to some reports, Azerbaijanis living in Moscow have
postponed next week’s protest action against Zhirinovskiy in front
of the State Duma.

A member of the WAC leadership, Eldar Zeynalov, told Ekspress that
the reason is that the Russian MP intends to meet his voters in the
near future.

The WAC also believes that the protest might turn into an action
promoting Zhirinovskiy.