Minister says Karabakh’s involvement in talks crucial to settlement

Minister says Karabakh’s involvement in talks crucial to settlement process

Azg, Yerevan
14 Jul 05

Excerpt from Tatul Akopyan’s report by Armenian newspaper Azg on 14
July headlined “Arman Melikyan: ‘Controlled territory is a crucial
guarantee to protect Armenian refugees’ rights'”

The OSCE Minsk Group [co-chairmen] visited Stepanakert late in the
evening yesterday [13 July] to continue negotiations on the Karabakh
settlement with the leadership of the Nagornyy Karabakh Republic.

[Passage omitted: details of delayed arrival caused by bad weather]

We recall that people in Stepanakert are much more reserved about a
possible progress in the Karabakh settlement. The Nagornyy Karabakh
foreign minister has said to us that the clue to the Karabakh
settlement should be looked for in direct negotiations between
Stepanakert and Baku. As for controlled territories [seven Azerbaijani
districts around Nagornyy Karabakh occupied by Armenia] and refugees,
only Stepanakert is responsible for that.

“The controlled districts are not just a territory, they are a crucial
guarantee for the protection of Armenian refugees’ rights. If these
districts are returned, then how will the land and material claims of
500,000 Armenian refugees [from Azerbaijan] be settled? Nobody is
dealing with the fate of these people. The negotiations focus only on
400,000 Azerbaijani migrants [as published, actually between
800,000-1m refugees] but there is no word about Armenian refugees. We
should not allow the Armenians of Azerbaijan to repeat the destiny of
the Armenians of Turkey and of the diaspora,” [foreign minister of the
Nagornyy Karabakh Republic, Arman] Melikyan said.

The Nagornyy Karabakh foreign minister thinks that Baku is responsible
for the Azerbaijani migrants and for the Armenian refugees from
Azerbaijan.

“A total of 500,000 Armenians were ousted from their homes and lost
their motherland before the war, while 400,000 Azerbaijanis left their
homes as a result of the war started by their own government,” he
said.

Touching on the high level Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations, in
particular the meetings of the presidents, the Nagornyy Karabakh
foreign minister said they were causing a great deal of interest. As
for their outcome, “no specific results have been reached yet”.

“The [OSCE Minsk Group] co-chairmen insist that there is progress. The
foreign ministers think we may speak about some progress but it is not
clear yet what progress has been made. No progress or preliminary
agreements may be reached without the consent and the participation of
the Karabakh people or without the discussion of the problem with the
Nagornyy Karabakh leadership. We should remain calm in that respect
and wait for a breakthrough. We still have no such results. There are
optimistic statements on both sides and it is not bad if they are
based on something,” Arman Melikyan said.

Touching on the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen’s visit to the region,
the Nagornyy Karabakh president, Arkadiy Gukasyan, said recently that
they were unlikely to come up with “a final programme of the conflict
settlement”.

“We can have a general idea of what the co-chairmen will come up with,
but this will hardly be a programme of final settlement,” Gukasyan
said. Commenting on official Baku’s suggestion about the need for
establishing a dialogue between the Armenian and Azerbaijani
communities of Nagornyy Karabakh, Gukasyan said “it wouldn’t be bad if
the Azerbaijani community organized a dialogue with the Greek,
Russian, Ukrainian and other communities of Karabakh. According to the
Nagornyy Karabakh president, Baku’s attempts to create the impression
that Nagornyy Karabakh is not a party to the conflict but is only a
community are evidence of how futile Azerbaijan’s approach to the
conflict settlement is.

Stepanakert is obviously frustrated with the fact that Karabakh has
been artificially sidelined from the settlement process. This
frustration is directed to both Yerevan and Baku, as well as the OSCE
Minsk Group.

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