Oskanian Discusses Minsk Group Co Chairmen Visit

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–It will be impossible to resume peace talks as long as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen don’t find different approaches to the issue said Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian–commenting on the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen’s statement saying they will not consider new approaches regarding the dispute. The minister stressed that the protracted process is fraught with both political and military dangers.

Commenting on guarantees for Karabakh’s security–Oskanian said that if the parties to the conflict reach a mutually acceptable agreement this issue will be pushed to the background.

The foreign minister named three levels of guaranteed security: local–contractual and international. Among mechanisms for ensuring local security Oskanian mentioned the following: to maintain Karabakh’s military potential–to safeguard the Lachin corridor–the only link between Karabakh and Armenia.

Among mechanisms of contractual security–Oskanian included the need for an agreement between Karabakh and Azerbaijan to create a buffer zone; the withdrawal and dismantling of heavy artillery. International security guarantees must be provided by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries–the OSCE itself and the United Nations. Oskanian attached high importance to local security guarantees.

"The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen were not too pleased to hear Armenia’s position–even though they recognized its logic," Oskanian said in a Hayots Ashkhar interview. According to him–the co-chairmen did not bring any new proposals with them this time. Their visit was to hear the opinions of the parties involved.

Oskanian noted that Armenia’s new positions over the Karabakh settlement has two main components. The first is that the settlement be complete and acceptable for Armenia which entails that it finalize Karabakh’s status." The second is that the draft settlement project not contain any preliminary conditions. For example–it should not be based on the principles of the Lisbon Summit.

According to the foreign minister–the main reason of concern for the co-chairmen was that Armenia’s new positions may possibly not promote the resumption of negotiations. "They had some fears over Baku’s reaction to these proposals," he said–"however–I think that this is their problem and the problem of Baku."

According to Oskanian–the envoys were only interested in Armenia’s objective in insisting on "no preliminary conditions."We explained that it is necessary to acknowledge Karabakh as a political entity–with its Constitution–tax policy–economic conditions and other attributes."

According to Oskanian–the co-chairmen felt that for Armenia it would be inadmissible to consider as base a document which pre-determines Karabakh’s status. He said Armenia is resolute over this. According to him–the co-chairmen positively assessed the fact that this time–Armenia and Karabakh presented similar approaches. "Now they have to deal with a single Armenia-Karabakh front," he said.

Oskanian also noted that before the co-chairmen’s visit–Azerbaijan had said that it will not accept any type of status which will deny Karabakh’s existence within Azerbaijan. "The principal problem is that they did not compromise. In case when we do not raise the problem of Karabakh’s independence or unification with Armenia at this stage–an adequate response on the part of Azerbaijan would be a statement that it does not pursue Karabakh’s mandatory existence within Azerbaijan," Oskanian said. He reported that information regarding the co-chairmen’s visit to Azerbaijan has yet to be made available.

The foreign minister said that the co-chairmen treated with understanding Armenia’s position which "according to them–was not as tough as expected."In fact–there are some positive elemen’s. But whether they will accept our position and try to persuade Azerbaijan to give a unanimous response is hard to predict. This will become clear in the near future–when our envoys meet with the co-chairmen," Oskanian concluded.

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