OSCE Proposes to Lease Lachin from Azeris

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Azerbaijan’s State Advisor–Vafa Guluzade–stated Monday that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group decisions were consistent with the principles of the recently completed Lisbon Summit–and therefore meet the national interests of Azerbaijan.

The Noyan Tapan press service reported that the draft agreement proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group protected Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity–granting Nagorno Karabakh autonomy within Azerbaijan. Under the draft agreement–Nagorno-Karabakh has the right to have its own constitution–symbol–anthem and flag. The draft agreement also gives Nagorno Karabakh the right to have a National Guard and military police–which–upon signing of the agreement–are to be reduced "to a level of minimal sufficiency."

Moreover–this "concession" was made in exchange for the withdrawal of the Karabakh army not only from five Azeri regions–but also from Shoushi and Lachin–Azeri sources say.

Meanwhile–in response to proposals by the Minsk Conference–the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic will withdraw its army from the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh effective in 1998. The OSCE will also create a buffer zone around those borders–with no specific parameters having been set in the zone.

The OSCE will also lease the Lachin corridor from Azerbaijan–delineate its borders and will be in charge of communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. The corridor will fall under Azeri jurisdiction.

A clause has also been established which will enable the building of the Goris-Stepanakert highway bypassing Lachin. The draft agreement also calls for the return of Azeri refugees to Lachin–Shoushi and other regions of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as other occupied territories–but nothing has been said to this point of the return of Armenian refugees to cities and regions of Azerbaijan. Under the proposed document–Nagorno-Karabakh will be declared a free economic zone where all national currency will be accepted. Once more–the republic will also be recognized as a multiethnic formation with a budget to be established by its own resources.

The draft agreement will therefore not reflect any of the three basic principles of the conflict settlement put forward by the Karabakh party during the entire negotiating process–namely–the principle of horizontal relations between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan–the proposed method of using the Lachin corridor and the proposals regarding the withdrawal of the Karabakh forces and creation of a "buffer zone"

The proposal to declare Nagorno-Karabakh a multiethnic autonomy will mean the elimination of the Armenian formation–which nullifies the major goals of the national struggle of the Armenian population of Karabakh–the struggle not only for independence–but for the right to live on its land and maintain its language and culture.

Nagorno-Karabakh will also be forced to withdraw its forces from all territories it currently has under its control–dissolve the army–which today is the only guarantee of security for the population of Nagorno Karabakh–and remain an enclave within Azerbaijan with the danger of deportation looming over the native Armenian population.

It was unclear whether the expression "budget to be derived from its own resources" would rule out investment possibilities in Karabakh.

The draft agreement does not include provisions protecting right to self-determination and human rights–thus it could be deemed contradictory to the OSCE mission.

In meeting with the visiting OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen Saturday–Levon Ter-Petrosyan submitted Armenia’s response to the draft agreement.

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