Breakthrough Needed in Karabakh Talks Says Foreign Ministry

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"A breakthrough at the negotiations on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict is absolutely essential," press secretary of the foreign minister of Armenia–Arsen Gasparian–said at a press conference with Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe delegates on Tuesday.

Gasparian also said that rumors that a breakthrough in the negotiations had already been accomplished were completely untrue.

The position of Armenia at the negotiations is known–he continued. Yerevan speaks up for direct contacts between Azerbaijan and NagornoKarabakh–without the participation of representatives from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Armenia will not take part in those negotiations.

Gasparian said he welcomes the formation of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. "We are interested in cooperating with NATO and integrating into other European structures," he said.

Proposals By The OSCE Minsk Group

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group proposed this week–during a shuttle diplomacy mission in Armenia–Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh–that the Armenian side to the conflict withdraw not only from the so-called occupied territories (Azeri firing posts–Kelbajar–Aghdam–Fizouli–Dzhebrail–Zangelan–Gubatly and Lachin–neutralized by Nagorno-Karabakh self-defense forces) but also Shoushi.

Baku–on the other hand–would be required to agree to allow Karabakh to maintain in military forces–with the mediators "guaranteeing strict international monitoring and an inventory of military equipment in Karabakh," the Interfax news agency reported–quoting an Azeri diplomatic source.

The OSCE Minsk Group also stipulated that the military hardware and equipment in Karabakh would be added to Armenia’s quota as set by the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty.

The Azeri diplomat also told Interfax that OSCE peacekeeping forces would be deployed following a withdrawal from the so-called "occupied territories." The forces would represent the US–Russia and other European nations.

The number forces from each country–and the general number of forces would be determined following the acceptance of the proposal by the sides to the conflict. The diplomat also added that the peacekeeping forces would be responsible for settling refugees into the "occupied territories" and to guarantee the safety of Karabakh residents.

Following the settlement of refugees–the OSCE Minsk Group would work to stabilize the transport–energy and communications routes in the area. The peacekeeping forces would also be responsible to ensure the viability of the Lachin corridor–which is the only route connecting Armenia to Karabakh.

In conjunction with this process–Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh should also establish dialogue to determine the status of Karabakh–which in the Minsk Group’s evaluation should be extended authority but not independence for Karabakh.

International mediators would be able to intermittently participate in the Azeri-Karabakh talks–with a representative from Armenia taking part with observer status.

Following an agreement on the Karabakh status–the Karabakh army would be downsized to resemble a military police force.

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