Ter Petrosyan Calls for Compromise in Karabakh Conflict Predicts Headway

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Levon Ter-Petrosyan said at a news conference Friday that proposals by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk group co-chairmen for settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict represent a step-by-step approach to the settlement.

According to him–this was the most realistic way to the settlement of the conflict under the circumstances. The initial version of the proposals were formed as a "package" however–it was strongly opposed by both Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh due to discords over the status of the region.

Ter-Petrosyan spoke for mutually-acceptable compromises on this issue–saying that the international community will not long endure the present status quo in the region.

Ter-Petrosyan reported that a new version called for a compromise–that is: the withdrawal from Azeri firing posts neutralized by the Karabakh Defense Army–return of refugees–deployment of international peace forces–creation of a no-flight zone at the border of Azerbaijan and Karabakh. "The status of Karabakh is likely to be postponed until the conflicting sides are ready to discuss it it," Ter-Perosyan said.

Ter-Petrosyan also said that if the positions of the parties turn up to be close enough–perhaps–it will be possible to work out an agreed document–which may serve as a basis for future talks–but not a settlement.

"No one is more courageous than you. Be brave and make everybody realize that we are not going to live normally until the Karabakh conflict is settled and the blockade of Armenia lifted," Ter-Petrosyan told journalists. According to him–the Armenian media should be ready to compromise on the Karabakh issue.

Addressing journalists’ questions on the economy–Ter-Petrosyan said that any reported growth prior to settling the Karabakh conflict would be superficial and not substantial.

"A Karabakh resident is non the worse than a German or French citizen," he said. At the same time he said that if Karabakh goes on insisting on full independence and unification with Armenia–the international community will not accept this.

He made it clear that he was optimistic on the issue.

In particular–he once again reproached Turkey for "creating a trap for itself"–by linking relations between Armenia and Turkey to the Karabakh conflict. Meanwhile–he added–that the latter problem was not "eternal."

"The international community will not allow for this problem to remain unsolved for ten or twenty years," Ter-Petrosyan emphasized.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan opposed the idea of setting up an OSCE-like organization in the Caucasus–as had earlier been suggested by Chechnya.

He said that Georgia and Azerbaijan were of the same opinion–"but they have a problem of offending Chechnya."

Noting that the Caucasus were also a part of the Middle East–Ter-Petrosyan–commenting on the agreement between Turkey and Israel–said–"If it is aimed against Arabs–it may intensify tensions in the Caucasus as well."

In regards to arms proliferations in the Caucasus Ter-Petrosyan said that for the past five years Azerbaijan received three times more arms than Armenia. However–according to him–during the hostilities Azerbaijan lost its property and now there is an approximate balance of armamen’s between the the two republics.

"If Azerbaijan managed to maintain its advantage–it would immediately resume the war," he said.

Ter-Petrosyan voiced fear that if political struggle surrounding Armenia’s joining the Russia-Belarus union starts now–it may complicate the ratification of the new Russia-Armenia agreement on friendship and cooperation.

He voiced satisfaction over the state of Russia-Armenia cooperation–saying in particular that the agreement on Russian-Armenian Armrosgas company will be executed regardless of whether Turkey agrees to receive Russian gas via Armenia’s territory or not.MOSCOW (Noyan Tapan)–During a working visit to Moscow–French President Jacques Chirac met with his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin at the Kremlin Friday.

Chirac–who has been friends with Yeltsin for a number of years–thanked the Russian leader for his hospitality and emphasized Russia-French cooperation in various fields.

Yeltsin and Chirac issued a joint statement addressing the recent rounds of negotiations on the Karabakh conflict. According to the statement–the organizational cooperation within the Minsk Group co-chairmanship has led to the revitalization of the Karabakh negotiations. The leaders expressed hope that these new developmen’s would make way for renewed efforts on behalf of the conflicting parties to agree on principles as the basis for an eventual and final resolution.

The Russian and French presidents declared their complete willingness to further work on finding a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict.

Chirac also met with Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin earlier on Friday–when the two officials discussed issues of interest to their respective nations–including strengthened cooperation in the technological–mechanical and economic spheres.

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