BAKU: Serious Disagreements on Return of 2 Azerbaijan Districts: ICG

Trend News Agency, Azerbaijan
March 30 2008

Azerbaijan, Armenia Have Some Serious Disagreements on Return of 2
Azerbaijani Districts: ICG Vice President
30.03.08 11:39

Azerbaijan, Baku 29 March / corr Trend News K.Ramazanova / TrendNews’
interview with Nick Grono, the Deputy President of the IGG.

Question: What are your views on a solution to the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh on the basis of
the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan? Is the IGG prepared to
assist in the rapid resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
taking into consideration that talks within the OSCE are still
failing?

Answer: Crisis Group does not have a pre-determined view on what the
outcome of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, or the
future status of Nagorno-Karabakh, should be. We believe the conflict
must be solved peacefully and the ultimate status of the disputed
region should be defined later, after other confidence-building
measures have been put in place. These measures include renunciation
of the use of force; Armenian withdrawal from parts of Azerbaijan
adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh; re-opening of trade and communication
links; mutual commitment to a vote on Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status
after the return of displaced Azeris and an interim status for
Nagorno-Karabakh, with substantial international aid and guarantees,
including peacekeeping presence, before this vote takes place.

The above-mentioned principles constitute the core of the ongoing
peace negotiations popularly known as the ` Prague process’. Crisis
Group believes these principles provide the best framework for
peaceful resolution of the conflict.

We believe the negotiations should continue within the framework of
the OSCE Minsk Group, but also advocate for a greater EU involvement
in the process.

Crisis Group has produced three reports on Nagorno-Karabakh. These
reports provide timely information on and analysis of the conflict
and the negotiation process. We also engage in advocacy activities to
attract the international community’s increased attention to the
problem. We similarly work with the Armenian and Azerbaijani
governments and societies and advocate for a peaceful resolution to
this conflict.

Question: What could impede talks in this stage and is there any
confidence that the new Government of Armenia adopt a package of
proposals on the conflict resolution, which were given to foreign
ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in written form at the end of
last year?

Answer: As far as I am aware, both Armenia and Azerbaijan have
proclaimed their readiness to continue talks within the framework of
the `Prague Process’ and the `basic principles’ presented to Armenian
and Azerbaijani foreign ministers at the sidelines of the OSCE
Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Madrid in late November 2007. Some
serious disagreements remain on the issue of return of Kelbajar and
Lachin districts, the modalities of the vote which would determine
Nagorno-Karabakh’s ultimate status, and the issue of return of
displaced Azeris to Nagorno-Karabakh before such a vote takes place.
We express our hope that the parties will succeed in overcoming their
differences on these last remaining points and will move on to work
out a comprehensive peace agreement based on the `basic principles’.

>From this perspective, it is very important to continue negotiations
and avoid incidents in the frontline similar to the one which took
place on March 4, which resulted in tragic loss of lives. The OSCE
should consider stepping up its monitoring of the frontline to avoid
similar incidents in the future. The parties should also refrain from
militant rhetoric and promote civil society dialogue and
people-to-people contacts. Such popular contacts are even more
important during the election cycle, when domestic electoral politics
may alienate the societies divided by conflict even further.
Confidence-building measures should eventually make it possible for
the admittedly more sensitive — but nevertheless crucial — start of
withdrawal of ethnic Armenian forces from occupied territories as a
first step towards the implementation of these principles.

Question: As you know the Kosovo parliament unilaterally adopted on
February 17 a declaration on the breakaway republic’s independence
from Serbia. So what you think could it possible that the recognizing
of their independence of the Kosovo will affect negative or any way
to other conflicts such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia and
Nagorno-Karabakh?

Answer: There is a strong consensus in the international community
that Kosovo cannot set a precedent for other conflicts in the
European periphery. Its uniqueness derives, among others, from the
way the international community has intervened following crimes
committed against Kosovo Albanians by the Milosevic regime. Crisis
Group sees every conflict as unique and does not consider the Kosovo
case a precedent for other conflicts in the South Caucasus.

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