Azeri Opposition Leaders Blast Karabakh Talks

BAKU (Zerkalo)–Abulfaz Elchibey–leader of the People’s Front of Azerbaijan Party–demanded that so-called crimes committed by the Armenian president be examined by an international court.

The negotiating process on a Karabakh settlement has gained momentum recently. Direct meetings between the Armenian and Azeri presidents have played a major role in this. Dialogue is proceeding amid criticism of the presidents’ behavior and remarks by the two countries’ opposition.

In particular–the Azeri opposition has accused Haydar Aliyev of intending to take a decision that does not meet Azerbaijan’s national interests. This idea was voiced at a round table discussion last week held on the initiative of the Union of Intelligentsia and ‘525 gazet’ newspaper at the Baku Press Club–which was devoted to the Karabakh conflict.

Elchibey criticized the authorities’ policy–which is being conducted with one eye on the US. In his words–President Clinton and the French leader–Jacques Chirac–do not care about the Karabakh problem. "It is precisely the Azeri people who have to resolve it," he said.

In his opinion–it is inadmissible to negotiate with the Armenian president. "Kocharian is a terrorist and his actions should be examined by an international court." The PFAP leader drew a parallel between Kocharian and Serbian President [Slobodan] Milosevic–emphasizing that Azerbaijan had to draw the attention of the international judicial system to this issue.

Elchibey said that Azerbaijan should prepare for war to attain peace. To do so–propaganda must be stepped up–he believes.

"I am in favor of putting up posters in the streets with the slogan ‘Death to the Armenian occupiers’," he said. The PFAP leader said this–along with increasing propaganda in the mass media–is the best form of fostering patriotic feelings and combat spirit.

Isa Gambar–chairman of the Musavat Party–said that there was a good chance of resolving the Karabakh problem–as Russia is engaged in introducing order in Dagestan and Iran is engaged in crushing the national liberation movement. Gambar said its own weakness prevents Azerbaijan from seizing this opportunity.

The Musavat leader expressed that the basis of this weakness lay within rampant corruption in Azerbaijan and the obstacles created by the authorities to the development of democracy. "Without developing democracy and curbing corruption–the people will not be able to display its potential in resolving the Karabakh conflict," stressed Gambar.

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