Azerbaijan Rejects Peace Plan

BAKU (Itar-Tass)–Azerbaijan will never accept the new proposals put forth by the co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group which called for the creation of a "common state," Azeri President Haydar Aliyev said. The official rejection was announced Thursday by Aliyev himself.

Aliyev spoke after a two-hour meeting behind closed doors with OSCE chairman in office Bronislaw Geremek Wednesday. Geremek arrived in Azerbaijan from Georgia as part of his Transcaucasian tour.

Aliyev said that the term "common state" was far-fetched and did not exist in the international practice.

”Azerbaijan cannot agree to these proposals,” Aliyev said–adding that the plan would amount to recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence.

He claimed that the OSCE proposed that Azerbaijan–which has been recognized by the international community and is a member of the UN and the OSCE–and Nagorno-Karabakh create a "common state."

"This runs counter to Azerbaijan’s national interests," he said. Aliyev said he was surprised by these proposals made by the Minsk Group co-chairmen on November 9 during talks with the Azeri leadership.

At the same time–he said that Azerbaijan was in favor of a political resolution to the Karabakh conflict and remained committed to the cease-fire agreement which has been in effect since May 12–1994.

However–he said that "neither peace nor war" can last forever and that the truce must develop into lasting peace between the sides.

In his opinion–this meant the liberation of the so-called occupied territories– the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity–the return of more than one million of its citizens–who have become refugees as a result of the conflict–to their homes–and the provision of a high degree of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan.

"These principles for conflict resolution were accepted by 53 OSCE member-states– except Armenia–in December 1996 at the Lisbon summit and until recently were fundamental principles for the Minsk Group co-chairmen as well," Aliyev said.

He also alleged to Geremek that in the summer and autumn of 1997 Armenia basically ignored the proposals put forth by the Minsk Group co-chairmen–the first of which called for a package and the second for a gradual settlement of the conflict.

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