BAKU: Spat Continues Ahead Of Possible Armenian-Azerbaijani Meeting

July 15 2010

Elkhan Polukhov Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman has accused
the Armenian foreign minister of being deliberately misleading.

Spokesman Elkhan Polukhov was commenting on remarks by Armenian Foreign
Edward Nalbandian about the content of a possible meeting between
the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers on the sidelines of
an informal OSCE Ministerial session in Almaty on 16-17 July.

Nalbandian told a press conference in Yerevan yesterday that,
“If the meeting is held, it is first of all necessary to clarify
whether Azerbaijan is ready to continue talks on the basis of the
latest version of the Madrid document on which high level agreement
was reached in St Petersburg.”

Polukhov told Day.Az yesterday that Nalbandian seemed to have changed
the format of the negotiations, as only Russia out of the three OSCE
mediating countries had been present at the St Petersburg talks.

“The negotiating process is held between the parties to the conflict –
Armenia and Azerbaijan – and is mediated by the co-chairs of the
Minsk Group countries – France, the USA and Russia. A document
prepared by the Minsk Group co-chairs and containing the updated
Madrid principles aimed at the resolution of the Karabakh conflict was
adopted in December 2009 with the participation of the delegations of
the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states, including Russian Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner,
and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. However, only the
Russian side was represented in St Petersburg in the absence of France
and the United States,” Polukhov said.

“Against the background of the recent statements of the presidents
of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states made in Canada, instead of
busying themselves with useless rhetoric and attempts to mislead their
audience, the Armenian leadership should prepare its community for the
inevitable withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied
lands of Azerbaijan and the future coexistence of the Armenian and
Azerbaijani communities of Nagorno Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,”
Polukhov said.

“Someone is trying to get the Armenian side out of the difficult
position they are in at the negotiating table today,” he concluded.

The OSCE has been mediating in talks to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict since a cease-fire was agreed in 1994. The main sticking
point in the negotiations is and always has been the status of
Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan insists should remain part of
its territory.

From: A. Papazian

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