OSCE Disapproves Uniting Armenia and Karabakh

YEREVAN (Itar-Tass–Noyan Tapan)–A co-chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk group on Nagorno Karabakh on Tuesday rejected the idea of uniting Karabakh and Armenia.

Nikolai Gribkov–who represents Russia–said upon his arrival in Yerevan that the group did not agree to Armenia-Karabakh unification–which had been flatly opposed by Azerbaijan.

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group–Carey Cavanaugh from the US–Nikolay Gribkov from Russia and Jean-Jacques Gaillard from France paid a regular working visit to the region of the Karabakh conflict. They visited Baku–Stepanakert and Yerevan.

Talking to journalists at the "Erebuni" airport–the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs said that they conducted negotiations with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh and now they are going to hold similar negotiations in Yerevan. During their stay in Azerbaijan–the mediators also made a trip to the Armenian-Azeri border-at the junction of the Kazakh region of Azerbaijan and Ijevan region of Armenia.

According to them–during meetings among things discussed were the possibilities of economic integration in the region–and of opening communication between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Particularly considered was the possibility of re-operating the Kazakh-Ijevan branch line and the gas pipe line running from Karabakh to Nakhichevan. According to Gaillard–the co-chairs were strengthened in their conviction that much can be achieved in the aspects of measures aimed at strengthening mutual confidence.

When asked about new ideas–Carey Cavanaugh pointed out that they always bring new ideas–as it is their duty. In his turn–Nikolay Gribkov said that the main task of the visit is "to keep the hand on the pulse of the negotiating process." He pointed out that "now it is difficult to say when the negotiating process will be resumed within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. This issue is now being discussed with the conflicting parties."

The mediators stressed the importance of the Kocharian-Aliyev meetings to the negotiating process as well as of the Armenian president’s latest meetings with the leaders of Russia–the US and France.

Nagorno Karabakh Republic President Arkady Ghoukassian also held a meeting with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Ghoukassian said that the Nagorno Karabakh Republic authorities remain committed to the peaceful settlement of the conflict and are interested in the measures being taken to resume the negotiating process. The mediators reaffirmed their countries’ willingness to promote the establishment of long-lasting peace in the region and expressed regret over the March 22 events and wished the President well.

The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs informed the Ghoukassian of the details of their negotiations in Azerbaijan and of the meetings at the Armenian-Azeri border.

The sides also discussed the issue of maintaining the cease-fire as well as a number of issues related to the region’s economic development.

Thereafter–the Nagorno Karabakh Republic President held a private meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs.

Armenian Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian also met with the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen to discuss ways and possible options of the Karabakh conflict settlement.

According to the Armenian defense ministry–the co-chairs put special emphasis on the role of defense ministries of both Azerbaijan and Armenia in the working out ways for the peaceful settlement of the conflict and establishment of peace.

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