Armenia Has A Serious Attitude To The Negotiations

Lilit Poghosyan

Hayots Ashkhar Daily
31 Oct 08

And what about Turkey and Azerbaijan?

Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan yesterday convened a press
conference with the purpose of introducing the agenda of his recent
visits and upcoming diplomatic contacts

Touching upon the Karabakh issue, E. Nalbandyan expressed hope that
the high level trilateral meeting to be held in Moscow on November 3
by the initiative of President D. Medvedev will impart a new stimulus
to the negotiations. Before that, it is planned to hold a "preparatory
meeting" of the three Foreign Ministers today.

And on November 1, the Armenian and Azeri Foreign Ministers will meet
with the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group because, no matter how much
the discussion are important and useful, "the negotiations continue
within the frameworks of the Minsk Group," the speaker stated once
again. "That format is effective, and there is no need to invent a
new one."

In general, the first ten days of November will be more than active
and we hope – effective in terms of foreign relations. Right after the
Sargsyan-Medvedev-Aliev meeting, the Armenian President will arrive
in Paris where he will have meetings with the President of France,
Speaker of the Senate and other senior officials. Then, he will meet
with the responsible representatives of the European Union and at
the same time, discuss issues regarding the bilateral relations.

As to the fact that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs recently visited Baku,
"passing round" Armenia and Karabakh, Ed. Nalbandyan sees nothing
strange there. According to the Foreign Minister, it might have been
conditioned by the necessity of specifying Baku’s attitudes towards
certain issues discussed in the frameworks of the "Madrid principles".

With regard to the information disseminated by the Turkish and
Azerbaijani media on the prospects of holding the Armenian Azerbaijani
and Turkish Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Helsinki, Mr. Nalbandyan
said, "I haven’t received any proposal concerning that meeting, and I
can’t say whether it will take place. As there are different rumors
according to which the Armenian, Turkish and Azerbaijani Foreign
Ministers spoke about the settlement of the Karabakh conflict during
the meeting in New York, I want to repeat that such rumors do not
correspond to the reality. The meeting lasted only 15 minutes, and
we discussed the idea of the Caucasian platform. And that was the
initiative of Turkey and the Turkish Foreign Minister. We accepted
the proposal, and the meeting took place."

Therefore, the rumors on Turkey’s "mission" as a "mediator" are
strictly exaggerated. Turkey can assist in the settlement of the
conflict,by regulating its relations with Armenia and why not, using
its influence upon Azerbaijan, its sister country. And that’s all it
can do.

Touching upon the Turkish Ambassador’s provocative statement that the
Armenian-Turkish border will not be opened as long as the Karabakh
issue is unsettled, the Foreign Minister noted, "I leave that statement
to his conscience. We are currently conducting the negotiations
with Turkey over such issues as the establishment of relations,
the opening of the borders and the regulation of the relationships
without any preconditions. And that means that no such preconditions
are possible." The reservations, remarks and recommendations made by
ex-Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan were touched upon as well. "In
general, I treat recommendations with great attention. But I don’t
think it’s right when the new Foreign Minister makes comments upon
the expressions of his predecessor or vice versa. And maybe, giving
the people recommendations through newspapers is not the right thing
to do. If I start giving my recommendations in response and say what
should have been done in the course of the past 10 years and what
shouldn’t have, that will be wrong, in my opinion," the Minister said.

With regard to L. Ter-Petrosyan’s predictions on achieving a
breakthrough in the Karabakh settlement process in a couple of
months’ time, E. Nalbandyan announced, "Such predictions were made
by different politicians and statesmen in the past as well. There
is one thing I can say for sure: the conflict will be settled if
Azerbaijan demonstrates a political will." And that should be done
not by undertaking specific actions, making statements and carrying
out activities in different spheres, but on the contrary, by trying
not to impede in the conflict settlement process.

Armenia has a serious attitude to the negotiation process; it is in
favor of a constructive dialogue and is interested in the speedy
settlement of the conflict; otherwise, in case of responding to
Azerbaijan’s "initiatives" in the same style, it will have to give
up the idea of the negotiations once and for all. "We find that the
negotiations are at a very important stage, and the process may
become active especially after President Medvedev’s initiative,"
the speaker assured.

And what about the "rumors" that Mr. Medvedev’s proposal implies the
return of 7 liberated regions whereas Minsk Group proposal which is
currently under discussion envisages the return of 5 or 6 regions. To
what extent do such rumors correspond to the reality? In response
to our question, the Foreign Minister said, "Our principle is the
following: unless we have reached an agreement on all the issues
under discussion, we won’t be able to draw conclusions and specify
figures such as 7, 5 or 6."

If the Presidents reach an agreement and arrive at some mutually
acceptable variant, the package of the proposals will be naturally
introduced to the public. "One thing is obvious: no one has any
intention to do anything behind the people’s back. Each solution
should receive relevant support by Armenia and Karabakh. Without that
support and trust, no solution will be possible."

As regards the accusations of the "opposition leader" who says that
Armenia has sharply shifted its foreign policy vector, by turning
to the West and betraying Russia, the Foreign Minister said,
"Our relationship with Russia, both as an ally and a strategic
partner, were once again reiterated during the visit of the Russian
President. If anyone notices any changes, they may be only directed
to the extension of the relationship."

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