Azeris Dismiss Armenia’s Position on Karabakh Issue

BAKU (RFE/RL–Reuters)–In an interview with Turan on Thursday–Azerbaijani presidential adviser Vafa Guluzade said that Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian statement’s that the Karabakh peace process is deadlocked as a result of Azerbaijan’s intransigence is "groundless."

Guluzade also rejected Oskanian’s argument that Armenia cannot allow the deadlock to continue for a period of years as to do so would permit Azerbaijan to build up its military strength. In such a case–according to Oskanian–Armenia would have to provide more concrete security guarantees to the Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and would consider all other options–including the possible reunification of Armenia with Karabakh.

"It (Armenia’s threat) is an attempt to dictate conditions–not only to Azerbaijan but also to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” Vafa Guluzade–state adviser for foreign policy–told Reuters.

Guluzade said Armenia’seemed to have in mind "a military solution" to the long-running dispute–which is being mediated by the OSCE–if Azerbaijan did not do what Yerevan wanted.

"Azerbaijan is strong enough to defend itself. Secondly–Armenia’s allies will be against the resumption of war–as will the international community–led by the United States,” he said.

Oskanian’s statement was the first time Armenia had said officially it might consider uniting with Karabakh. It marked a hardening of Yerevan’s position since Robert Kocharian–was elected Armenia’s president in March.

[Incidentally–in reporting the news–Reuters news agency called Oskanian’s statemen’s for a union between Armenia and Karabakh annexation–a word never used by Oskanian .]

Oskanian said Armenia was compromising by not now insisting on full recognition of Karabakh’s independence or on reunification–but voiced concern that Azerbaijan could rebuild its army with petrodollars from its Caspian Sea oil fields.

"Armenia cannot wait for concessions from Azerbaijan for a decade–knowing that Azerbaijan has great possibilities to strengthen its army with petrodollars and opt for a military solution," Oskanian told a news conference.

Azerbaijan has always ruled out full independence for Karabakh or allowing the it to become part of Armenia.

Guluzade claimed Armenia’s diplomacy was in crisis and dismissed suggestions by Oskanian that Azerbaijan was refusing to discuss "constructive proposals."

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