No Progress In Fresh Armenian-Azeri Talks

By Harry Tamrazian in Prague

Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
March 14 2007

Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to move closer to resolving the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during their latest high-level negotiations
held in Geneva, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told RFE/RL on

Speaking by telephone shortly after the talks with his Azerbaijani
counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, Oskanian said the two sides still have
"deep differences" over unspecified key details of a peace accord
drafted by international mediators. He said they agreed to meet again
next month in another attempt to lay the groundwork for a potentially
decisive meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents.

"I thought that these negotiations should take place in a bit more
smooth manner, but this was not the case. They were quite difficult
and complicated," Oskanian said without elaborating.

"But this is understandable as we are increasingly going into the
details of the basic principles [proposed by the mediators.] That is
why new complications keep emerging," he added.

Mammadyarov did not immediately comment on the Geneva talks.

The American, French and Russian mediators want Presidents Ilham
Aliev and Robert Kocharian to meet and cut a framework peace deal
shortly after Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections. The three
co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group hoped that Oskanian and Mammadyarov
will minimize the conflicting parties’ remaining differences on the
basic principles of a Karabakh settlement.

Oskanian insisted that this may still happen at the next meeting of
the foreign ministers, arguing that the parties have already created
"quite a solid base" for reaching agreement. "There is a document on
the table," he said. "We believe it is a fairly serious document that
allows for a solution to the problem."

The proposed peace deal calls for a gradual settlement of the Karabakh
dispute that would culminate in a referendum of self-determination
in Karabakh. Baku and Yerevan are believed to disagree, among other
things, on practical modalities of that referendum.

Oskanian and Mammadyarov met the day after attending and trading fresh
accusations at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council
in Geneva. Mammadyarov repeated Azerbaijani allegations of "Armenian
aggression" against his country, while Oskanian said Azerbaijan "lost
the political and moral right to govern people they considered their
own citizens."

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