BAKU: Moscow Believes It Is Too Early For NK To Participate In Negot

MOSCOW BELIEVES IT IS TOO EARLY FOR NAGORNO-KARABAKH TO PARTICIPATE IN NEGOTIATIONS

Trend News Agency
May 21 2008
Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku, 20 May /Trend News corr M. Aliyev/ Russian
co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group which is engaged in settling
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict believes that is too early for
Nagorno-Karabakh to participate in the negotiations.

"After the basic principles of conflict settlement are approved,
nothing will prevent representatives of the region from participation
in development of the agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh," Russian co-chair
of the Minks Group Yuri Merzlyakov said to Trend News in a telephone
conversation from Moscow on 20 May.

"Nagorno-Karabakh must independently participate in the negotiations
on peaceful settling of the conflict with Azerbaijan," Bako
Sahakyan, President of so-called Nagorno-Karabakh republic, said to
Vedomosti. "There is the main side of the conflict – independent
Nagorno-Karabakh republic having the same priorities as other
countries," Sahakyan said.

In its turn, official Baku rejects negotiating with the Armenian
community of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"From the early start, the talks on the settlement of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were held with Armenia as an aggressor
country, but not with those who are populated in Nagorno-Karabakh
to serve as a screen," Khazar Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Foreign
Ministry of Azerbaijan said to TrendNews earlier.

The first meeting of the Azerbaijani foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov
with the Armenian foreign minister Artur Nalbandyan was held in May
after which the meeting of the presidents was announced to be possible.

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev is scheduled to meet with
the new President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan for the first time in
St Petersburg on 6 June within the informal summit of the CIS head
of states.

According to Merzlyakov, the new president of Armenia is well-informed
of the process with Nagorno-Karabakh. "I think, the meeting will be
very businesslike if all sides are constructive and they are ready to
discuss basic principles of the settlement of the conflict," he said.

The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began
in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since
1992, Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan including
the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. In
1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which
time the active hostilities ended. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk
Group ( Russia, France, and the US) are currently holding peaceful
negotiations.

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