Meindorf Progress: NK emphasizes importance of its return to table

WPS Agency, Russia
November 26, 2008 Wednesday


by Yuri Simonyan

NEGOTIATING TABLE; International brokers display cautious optimism in
the matter of the Karabakh conflict settlement.

The idea of the Meindorf Declaration (non-use of force in
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement) belonged to Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev.

Local experts and politicians differ in the opinion on the
document. Georgian political scientist Professor Ramaz Sakvarelidze
assumed that Moscow’s activeness in the matter of Karabakh conflict
settlement had to do with the symptoms of potential restoration of the
Turkish-Armenian relations. "Turkey promotes the plans designed in the
West that aim to wrestle Armenia from the Russian orbit," Sakvarelidze
said. "Medvedev stepped in as soon as Turkey moved into the Armenian
foreground. He took it upon himself to settle the Karabakh conflict to
oust the Turks from the process." Sakvarelidze suggested that the
hasty and unexpected invitations to Aliyev and Sargsjan to visit
Moscow were reaction to the Turkish factor and questioned Russia’s
resolve to see the conflict settled. "Russia has had ample time to do
so – with nothing to show for it," he said.

The reaction to the Meindorf Declaration was particularly tumultuous
in Armenia while Azerbaijan took it in stride. In Baku, the official
authorities and the opposition kept emphasizing that a fair settlement
of the conflict was only possible on the basis of the principle of
territorial integrity (of Azerbaijan, of course).

Armenia reacted in a more agitated manner. In fact, reaction to the
document there including the whole assortment of opinions from
condemnation of Sargsjan for "having given Karabakh up" to praise for
accomplishments of Armenian diplomacy. Armen Rustamjan, Chairman of
the Permanent Commission for Foreign Relations of the National
Assembly and representative of the Ruling Body of the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutjun, visited Moscow the other
day. His evaluation of the situations appears to be most reasonable of
the lot. "There is only one shortcoming in the whole declaration so
far as I can see – the absence of Nagorno-Karabakh from the process,"
Rustamjan said. "Yerevan can defend interests of the Armenians but
issues of the status and return of refugees are prerogative of
Stepanakert alone."

The latter seems to be of a similar frame of mind. The authorities of
Nagorno-Karabakh never miss a chance to emphasize the necessity of
their return to the negotiating table. A meeting with OSCE Minsk Group
chairman, Karabakh President Bako Saakjan announced that "… Artsakh
values every document that may promote the establishment of a
civilized dialogue in the process of Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict
settlement, but the process of settlement cannot be universal without
Nagorno-Karabakh’s participation in it." Georgy Petrosjan, Foreign
Minister of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, plainly
told this correspondent that "The lot of Nagorno-Karabakh is not to be
settled without Nagorno-Karabakh."

Azerbaijan in the meantime suspects that the demands to return
Nagorno-Karabakh to the negotiating table are simply a device in
Armenia’s part intended to buy it time. "Stepanakert participated in
the talks in the 1990s, and what did it avail? On the other hand, if
the Azerbaijani authorities insist that Nagorno-Karabakh is their
territory, then their refusal to launch a dialogue with their own
nationals is not very logical," Professor Rasim Musabekov said.

OSCE Minsk Group chairman seem to be of a similar opinion. Commenting
on the trip to Stepanakert on November 15, Russian Chairman Yuri
Merzlyakov said that the text of the agreement would be drawn with
Nagorno-Karabakh representatives actively participating.

American Chairman Matthew Bryza was even more optimistic and suggested
that unless something happened to worsen the situation now: "the
solution to the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh may be expected in 2009."

Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 24, 2008, p. 11

Translated by Aleksei Ignatkin

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