Oskanian Says Balanced Trilateral Relations Needed

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"It is important today for Armenia to resume negotiations as soon as possible without any preliminary conditions either according to the ‘three plus three’ scheme (the Minsk Group’s co-chairmen plus Armenia–Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh) or according to a more effective ‘one plus one’ scheme (Baku plus Stepanakert)," Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said in his interview with the Azeri Turan New Agency. The interview was published in the July 11 issue of the Azeri "Zerkalo" newspaper and in the July 14 Armenian "Respublika Armenii" daily newspaper.

According to the Armenian foreign minister–it is practically impossible to overcome mutual distrust without direct contact between Baku and Stepanakert–and it is such negotiations and mutually acceptable agreemen’s that open the way to a compromise solution.

Oskanian pointed out that the community of political–economic and social interests of the peoples living in the Trancaucasus must be taken into account in any solution and compromise in the Karabakh problem.

"We see a solution in establishing horizontal political ties between Karabakh and Azerbaijan by means of special contractual relations between the entities of international law in the form of confederation–free association or even in the form of interstate alliance," Oskanian said.

He stressed that such horizontal relations between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh with versatile–mutually advantageous economic relations of each of them with Armenia will become the formula of peace and cooperation in the region.

The Armenian foreign minister reiterated that–"Yerevan has never accepted the so-called Lisbon principles," stressing that the so-called "Lisbon principles" were merely the OSCE Acting Chairman’s statement. Moreover–he called unacceptable the conditions proposed by Azerbaijan in Lisbon.

When asked whether he finds it possible for international sanctions to be applied against Armenia and the "forced peace" idea realized like the Dayton agreemen’s on Bosnia–Oskanian ruled out any possible use of force in the Karabakh settlement. He stated that Azerbaijan–Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh–with the OSCE’s assistance–spare no effort in getting the peace process back on track.

The minister negated the opinion that the Karabakh conflict and the blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey destabilize Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s economies. He underlined that Armenia adjusted itself to the current reality long ago–overcame the heavy energy crisis and outdid the neighboring post-Soviet republics by the pace of its economic growth.

Oskanian pointed to at least two delusions that exist in Azerbaijan. The first–he said–was that there is a confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The second was that the whole problem of the conflict settlement is in returning the lands. "Thus–the issue of the Karabakh settlement is put on the wrong track. Though it is obvious that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is the major problem." the Armenian foreign minister said.

Addressing Armenia’s participation in the regional oil transportation projects–Oskanian said that Armenia can participate in the projects only after Azerbaijan changes its oil policy. But now Azerbaijan is using oil as a key factor and a political weapon against Armenia in a bid to coerce Armenia and Karabakh into making one-sided concessions.

The minister denied allegations that he had said that closer relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan might jeopardize Armeno-Georgian relations. According to him–he only expressed his concern over the fact that in its regional policy Azerbaijan tries to make its partners force Armenia out of the regional cooperation programs.

"Stability in the Caucasus can be ensured only with the trilateral cooperation between Armenia–Azerbaijan and Georgia. Any deviation from this cooperation will be destructive to each country of the region," Oskanian said.

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