Kocharian Aliyev Say Meeting On Karabakh Encouraging

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Presidents Robert Kocharian of Armenia and Haydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan said over the weekend their face-to-face meeting on Friday in Geneva has improved prospects of breaking the deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. But it was not known whether the leaders of the two conflicting countries reached agreement on any of the sticking points impeding the settlement of their decade-long territorial dispute.

"I am satisfied with the meeting," Kocharian told the press on his return to Yerevan. "We have agreed to think over certain issues and meet once again–probably in the near future," he said. Aliyev echoed Kocharian’s optimism calling their direct talks "useful" as he spoke to reporters at Baku airport on Saturday. "Both sides should make a it will be impossible to solve this problem," Aliyev said–according to Azeri press reports monitored by BBC. "We agreed to continue these meetings," he added.

However–both presidents refused to give any other details of the talks on the grounds of their confidentiality. Kocharian claimed that even the mediators from the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–that lead international efforts to hammer out a peace deal on Karabakh–were not informed about the meeting’s results.

The Armenian leader reiterated Yerevan’s opposition to "serious changes that would change the essence" of the Minsk Group’s most recent peace plan. The plan has been largely accepted by Armenia and Karabakh but rejected by Azerbaijan. Baku is against the idea of forming a "common state" with Karabakh–which is at the heart of the document.

The Azeri opposition newspaper Sharg noted in an article on Monday that Aliyev "used the word compromise for the first time," according to BBC.

Another Azeri media outlet–independent television station ANS–quoted Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov as not rejecting a possible involvement in further talks of Karabakh Armenian leaders–something which Baku has so far opposed. Zulfugarov’s comment is "being viewed as consent" to Stepanakert’s involvement–said the ANS report monitored by BBC. Kocharian–for his part–said Karabakh representatives may join in the Armenian-Azeri dialogue.

Kocharian Saturday arrived in Yeravan after meeting with Aliyev in Geneva. Upon arrival in Yerevan Zvartnots Airport Kocharian told reporters that he is satisfied with the results of the talks. He was in an upbeat mood. However President Kocharian didn’t disclose the details of his talks with president Aliyev. He said that it is not possible to solve very complicated issues in one or two meetings.

Kocharian told reporters that during the meeting both sides agreed on some issues–without specifying–which issues were agreed upon. He said that there would be one more meeting with president Aliyev in the near future. He didn’t say when and where the meeting will take place. Asked whether there was a concrete agreement on the settlement of the conflict–president Kocharian said that both sides agreed not to disclose any details discussed during the Geneva meeting.

Kocharian said that even the Minsk Group Co-Chairmen were not aware of what was being discussed during the Geneva talks.

Kocharian said that Nagorno-Karabakh President Arakdy Ghoukassian was informed about the meeting with Aliyev and that Karabakh will participate in peace talks in the future talks.

Asked whether serious amendmen’s are possible in the latest proposals of OSCE Minsk Group–Robert Kocharian said that there would be no change in the essence of the proposed principles.

He said that the recently proposed package–which was named "Common State"–could now have other titles–but there will be no change in the basic principles of the latest document presented by OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen.

Kocharian said that he and Azeri president Aliyev are willing to solve the conflict–adding that the willingness of both sides to solve the problems is the best guarantee that the solution will be found. He denied the report that the meeting has ended early and that Aliyev was not satisfied. Kocharian said that he refused to hold joint press conference with Aliyev–because there were no Armenian journalists in Geneva.

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