Arzoumanian Urges OSCE to Recognize Karabakh as Party to Negotiations

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan/RFE/RL)–Speaking at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Foreign Ministers Summit–which began in Copenhagen Wednesday–Armenia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian noted that the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh may get a fair and comprehensive resolution only if three conditions are fulfilled:

The conditions set forth by Arzoumanian were as follows: 1. There must be an agreement regulating relations between Karabakh and Azerbaijan which would allow Karabakh to be master of its fate and exercise absolute control on its territory; 2.Arrangemen’s are needed to establish security and eliminate any possibility of resumption of hostilities and make the peace process irreversible; and 3. Nagorno-Karabakh must be given such geographic conditions which would eliminate its isolated existence as an enclave.

Arzoumanian said that the Lisbon statement of the Chairman in Office dealt a serious blow to the peace process in as much as it tried to pre-determine the status of Nagorno-Karabakh prior to the Minsk Conference. "The Lisbon Statement not only made the negotiations on the status issue impossible but also made it very difficult to reach an intermediate agreement," Arzoumanian said.

According to Arzoumanian–the other critical obstacle has been Azerbaijan’s refusal to accept Nagorno-Karabakh as a full party to negotiations on its own status as well as Azerbaijan’s aspiration to resolve the matter with military force accompanied by violations of the CFE Treaty.

"Azerbaijan’s unconstructive position has had repercussions in Nagorno-Karabakh–making Nagorno-Karabakh distrustful and suspicious of the international community and seriously impeding mediators’ efforts.

As a result–in order to safeguard against perceived threats and possible dangers–Nagorno-Karabakh has set stringent requiremen’s for certain conditions to be codified in advance rather than achieved through negotiations," Arzoumanian said.

He added that Azerbaijan’s stance on oil matters presents further problems. At the same time that Azerbaijan raises the possibility of common economic benefits from oil and regional development and cooperation–it cynically tries to use oil as an instrument to pressure Armenia to unilaterally concede.

According to Arzoumanian–Azerbaijan has tried to play different international organizations off against one another–ignoring that the OSCE Minsk Group is the sole forum for negotiating a settlement to the conflict. "An unfortunate example of this was Azerbaijan’s recent appeal to the Organization of Islamic Conference in Tehran–misrepresenting the facts of the conflict–and giving them a religious color," Arzoumanian said.

Arzoumanian said that to ensure ways for further negotiations the OSCE must clarify three principles. The OSCE community must first clearly state that negotiations on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be conducted without any prejudice or precondition as to the outcome of those talks.

Second–the OSCE must clarify–in no uncertain terms–Nagorno -Karabakh’s status as a full party to negotiations on its political status. Finally–the OSCE must demand that the parties to the conflict clearly denounce the threat or use of force in settling this dispute.

Arzoumanian noted that the future Charter of the OSCE must first and foremost enhance the OSCE’s capacity for conflict prevention–crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

Armenia welcomes the elemen’s of the guidelines for an OSCE charter and the decision to draft and present it for adoption at the next meeting of our heads of state or government.

"As we deliberate the Charter during the next year–we must avoid attempting to re-interpret the principles of the founding Documents of this organization–the Helsinki Final Act.

Furthermore–we must refrain from creating directorates or small steering groups within the OSCE," Armenia’s Foreign Minister said.

In related in news–an OSCE spokesman told RFE/RL in Copenhagen Tuesday that there will be no decisions taken by the Ministers of 54 members of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe during the council meeting Wednesday.

The spokesman’said the OSCE foreign ministers will name a Special Representative on Media; the most likely candidate for that post is German Bundestag deputy Freimut Duve of the Socialist Party of Germany.

The OSCE Media Representative will study and monitor press freedom in the member states and report back to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.

The Media Representative will have the authority to express the OCSE’s concerns directly to the respective governmen’s of the member states.

The spokesman also said the Ministerial council meeting in Copenhagen will issue statemen’s on Bosnia–Albania–Nagorno-Karabakh and other hot spots in Europe. Wednesday–the members of the OSCE Minsk Group (not including the conflict parties) held a meeting on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

OSCE spokesman told RFE/RL that the Azeri and Armenian negotiators are already in Copenhagen. Both sides have presented their draft resolutions on the Karabakh conflict.

The spokesman’said that OSCE Ministerial meeting will refrain from adopting any resolution on Karabakh–and that at the end of the meeting the OSCE Chairman-in-office will issue the statement on the conflict.

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