Foreign ministers comment on Karabakh progress in Athens

Wed 02 Dec 2009 05:07 GMT | 09:07 Local Time

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The parties have commented on progress in finding a settlement to the Karabakh conflict on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Athens.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers met on Monday to discuss the possibility of a statement on Karabakh being made during the Ministerial Council session. They first had separate meetings with the co-chairmen of the OSCE's Minsk Group, which is mediating a settlement to the conflict.

The heads of delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, issued a statement afer a meeting on Tuesday with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan.

In the statement, Lavrov, Kouchner and Steinberg reiterated the commitment of their countries to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they complete work on the basic principles of a settlement and urged that the parties complete this work as soon as possible. They stressed that agreement on the basic principles would provide the framework for a comprehensive settlement to promote a future of peace, stability, and prosperity for the entire region.

Azerbaijan welcomes OSCE wish to step up negotiations

"Agreement on the basic principles will pave the way for the signing of a peace agreement. This can be seen from the statement of the foreign ministers of the co-chair countries. I assess the meeting this way. There is a wish to intensify the negotiations and it has to be welcomed,” Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told Azerbaijani journalists in Athens on Tuesday.

He said a rapprochement in positions is needed for agreement to be reached on the basic principles. The minister said this would pave the way to the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Asked whether the Armenian side had taken a constructive position, Mammadyarov said that the meeting had been a working meeting and the document on a solution to the conflict had not been discussed: “We talked about the format of negotiations. The last discussions on the documents were conducted by the president in Munich. Then the co-chairs started work on the proposals adopted at that meeting. A schedule of negotiations may be drawn up after the co-chairs’ visit.”

Armenia expects Karabakh to be involved in final talks

"When we come to an agreement on the Madrid Principles, negotiations on drawing up an agreement will start, and Nagorno-Karabakh should by all means participate in the negotiations," Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan told journalists in Athens, according to Armenian news agency Arminfo.

Armenian Public Television quoted Nalbandyan as saying that it was the first time that the OSCE Ministerial Council had adopted a written statement pointing out the need to observe the following three principles of international law: the non-use of force, the right of a nation to self-determination and territorial integrity. Nalbandyan hoped that the foreign ministers of the 56 OSCE member states would make a statement confirming the above-mentioned principles.

France optimistic on settlement

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a press conference in Athens on Tuesday that he did not know how long it would take to settle the Karabakh conflict, APA news agency reported.

“Of course, we will reach a solution of this problem. But when will this be? I don’t know,” Kouchner said.

“It is impossible to put pressure on the sides in the peace process. It is impossible to hurry them because it is a very sensitive issue. Regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the geopolitical situation in this region is very complicated. Geopolitics is a complicated issue and this is geopolitics.

"Therefore I don’t know when the conflict will be solved. But I am sure that it will take happen, if not now, then maybe in the coming months. Remember, several years ago there were a number of frozen conflicts. There were many conflicts 20 years ago – the Balkans, Yugoslavia, Bosnia and others. There were very big problems. But now a new trend can be seen. Earlier we couldn’t hold wide discussions on these conflicts, but now we are working to unfreeze these conflicts step-by-step.”

“Though certain documents were expected to be signed today on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, some difficulties were found  at the last moment.”

Tert.am  osce.org  APA  ArmInfo

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