Melkoumian Comments on Azeri Efforts to Mar Karabakh Conference

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–In a statement made to the press Tuesday–Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian said that a decision to postpone talks on the Karabakh conflict–scheduled for Nov. 3 in Strasbourg was Azerbaijan’s way of blackmailing and undermining the ongoing peace process.

Melkoumian added that recent events indicated that Azeri President Haydar Aliyev’s position has been weakened and the legitimacy of his reelection was being questioned not only by international observers–but also by the Azeri opposition which has demanded a review of election results.

The Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Bruno Haller in a letter to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Arkady Ghoukassian invited a Karabakh delegation to take part in hearings on the Karabakh conflict with the participation of the three sides to the conflict scheduled for November 3 in Strasbourg.

The Karabakh authorities accepted the invitation–but the Azeri Parliament and Foreign Ministry issued appeals to the Council of Europe–wherein they categorically objected to the Karabakh delegation’s participation in the Strasbourg talks

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe told the sides to the conflict Monday–that the said talks would be postponed until the end of the year–since Azerbaijan had voiced concerns.

In her statement–Melkoumian said that the Azerbaijan’s retreat from its previous commitmen’s to participate in the Strasbourg hearings was a "serious symptom of the disease from which the ruling Azeri regime suffered."

Following presidential elections–Melkoumian said–the credibility of the regime has considerably weakened–which has resulted in mass unrest and destabilization in Azerbaijan’s internal political situation. The Karabakh foreign minister also stated that Azerbaijan’s efforts to undermine the proposed exchange of views between the sides to the conflict called into question Azerbaijan’s sincere intention to achieve a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict.

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