Arman Melikyan: The Minsk Format Envisages Three Parties

Tatul Hakobyan

17.05.2006 18:00

May 18 Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan will leave for Strasburg to
participate in the 116th session of the Committee of Ministers of the
Council of Europe. In the framework of the visit Foreign Ministers
of Armenian and Azerbaijan are scheduled to meet OSCE Minsk Group
Co-Chairs. The way the process of settlement of the Karabakh conflict
will be known after this meeting, since after the failed Rambouliet
meeting the talks have found themselves in an uncertain deadlock.

What does the Karabakh side expect from the Oskanyan-Mamedyarov meeting
to be held in Strasburg and the visit of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs
to the region? Adviser to NKR President Arman Melikyan said in his
talk with “Radolur” correspondent, “We can have expectations only from
ourselves, with others we can discuss different topics. But if there is
a clash of interests and it’s not surmountable, it does not mean the
life is over. Twelve years have passed since the cease-fire, but we
have no visible results today. It’s a tragedy, which we cannot ignore.”

By the way, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mathew Bryza
declared that the US evaluations of opportunities of Armenia
and Azerbaijan to come to an agreement on the Karabakh issue are
optimistic. Bryza said that “today the parties are closer to an
agreement than before.”

According to the American diplomat, the governments of the two
countries should demonstrate political courage to overcome the
remained disagreements.

“We consider that the coming few months will provide that opportunity,”
Bryza assured.

“Instead of having expectations from the experts it is more correct
to strictly organize own activities, for instance, in regard to the
controlled territories,” Arman Melikyan said.

“We have domestic problems, through resolution of which we can present
ourselves to the world in a more advantageous way. For example, the
issue of Armenian referees has been ignored, the Azeris ever speak
about the Armenian refugees today, Armenia is silent, the mediators
have forgotten about them. It is only Karabakh that has made this
topic a matter of discussion. People were forcefully deported from
Azerbaijan, they had many losses. I’m confident that if these people
are given the chance to settle in Karabakh, and if Azerbaijan refuses
to provide compensation, Karabakh will provide this reimbursement to
Azerbaijani Armenians at the expense of these territories.”

To remind, the EU-Azerbaijan talks in the framework of the European
Neighborhood Program have been suddenly suspended because the EU
has certain doubts about the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. At
least, Azerbaijani politicians, particularly Rasim Musabekov, keep
to this opinion.

“It is clearly noted in the documents signed with Moldova and Georgia
that the territorial integrity of these countries is a priority,
i.e. the European Union backs the territorial integrity of these
countries. Azerbaijan insists on such formulation, while the EU gives
evasive answers,” he said.

According to Musabekov, it is this issue that does not allow the
parties to discuss the Actions Plans in the framework of the European
Neighborhood Program.

Executive Director on Azerbaijan of the Coordinating Bureau of the EU
Technical Support Programs Asker Alekperov declared that “the document
did nit include a point, according to which the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict will be settled on the basis of territorial integrity of
Azerbaijan. The European Union excluded the point from the document,
which disappointed the Azeri government.

Therefore, this issue is still disputable.” Does the international
community conceive that Karabakh cannot be part of Azerbaijan?

“I am confident that this comprehension has always existed. It is
another issue how the Europeans will present the fact of Karabakh’s
not being part of Azerbaijan to Azeris. The European interests demand
that the issue is settled in a peaceful way,” Asker Alekperov said.

Armen Melikyan said that the meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani
Presidents cannot be considered part of the Minsk negotiations
process. “These are consultations between the leaders of the two
countries on the settlement of the issue. The Minsk format envisages
three parties, and unless the third party is involved, this cannot
be considered talks in the Minsk format.

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