Azeri Journalists Discuss Karabakh Visit

STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)–The sixth regional conference of journalists attended by mass media representatives from Armenia–Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh was held in Nagorno Karabakh on August 29-31 as part of the "In Support of Journalists from the Transcaucasus" Program.

Journalists from Georgia refused to attend the conference for unknown reasons. The Azeri mass media were represented by the "Sharg" agency–ANS TV–"Zerkalo" ("Mirror") weekly as well as the press distributing agency and the office of "Argumenty i Fakty" ("Argumen’s & Facts") newspaper in Azerbaijan.

The conference discussed the following subjects: the political situation of the countries in the region; mass media and democracy; Caspian oil and its influence on the situation in the region; the Common Caucasian House and its stimuli and contradictions.

On August 29–participants in the conference met with Karabakh’s Foreign Ministry Naira Melkoumian. The sides discussed the issues of the internal and foreign political life of Nagorno Karabakh as well as current processes in the region.

Addressing prospects for the Karabakh settlement–the minister stressed that the problem is not in the recognition or non-recognition of Nagorno Karabakh–but in its regional character which influences the future of the entire Caucasus. In that regard–Melkoumian underlined that Nagorno Karabakh can become the bridge between Armenia and Azerbaijan–which is what the efforts of the three countries’ politicians should be aimed at.

"Azerbaijan and Karabakh should seek the common interest–and I am sure we have it–for the sake of which we will achieve lasting and enduring peace," Melkoumian said.

The minister reported that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen are expected to arrive in the region in the second half of September. According to the minister–they are actively seeking original variants of a comprehensive Karabakh settlement.

On August 29–the participants in the conference had an informal meeting with the speaker of the Karabakh Parliament–Oleg Yesayan. The following day they visited the town of Shushi–where they met with the head of the Artsakh Diocese–Pargev Martirossian. They also visited the mosque and the Kazanchetsots church.

On the last day of their stay in Karabakh the journalists met with Karabakh’s President Arkady Ghoukassian.

The president hailed and appreciated the meeting–pointing out the significance of people’s diplomacy and direct dialogue between Karabakh and Azerbaijan. Answering the journalists’ numerous questions discussing different spheres of Karabakh’s life–the president pointed out that despite the fact that Karabakh has not been recognized by the international community–it de facto exists and has all attributes of statehood.

He stressed that Nagorno Karabakh is ready for contacts at any level. He strongly believes that all problems can be resolved by means of negotiations. Commenting on Vafa Guluzade’s statement on granting autonomy to Karabakh–Ghoukassian said that negotiations make no sense if their outcome is predetermined.

The same day the participant in the conference visited the Gandzasar Cathedral in Mardakert from where they returned to Yerevan.

The conference did not adopt any final document.

The "In Support of Journalists from the Transcaucasus" program is implemented with the assistance of the Helsinki Civil Assembly (Geneva)–and the Foreign Ministry of Switzerland.

The author of the program–a Swiss journalists of Armenian origin Vigen Chtrian–also attended the conference. He suggested holding the next forum of journalists in Baku.

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