Oskanian Welcomes Warming Up Russo Azeri Relations

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Azerbaijan–said the improvement of relations between Russia and Azerbaijan might benefit the entire region. However–the minister found contradictory the military cooperation sought by Azerbaijan with Russia.

Oskanian said–"We hope this approach between the two countries will lessen tension in the region by creating peace and stability." He added Armenia has always called upon Azerbaijan to adopt a policy of rapprochement as opposed to that of polarization–which is characteristic of Azeri policy.

The minister found Azerbaijan’s policy contradictory–since it seeks to establish military cooperation with Russia and NATO simultaneously. "We feel there is a lack of genuine interest on the Azeri side due to these inconsistencies," stated Oskanian.

As for Putin’s commen’s on the protection of the territorial sovereignty of states–Oskanian found it "understandable" since Russia has its internal issues–specifically the Chechnya conflict. Oskanian said one of the reasons why the Karabakh conflict has not been resolved is because the international community has chosen to approach the matter in the context of preserving the territorial sovereignty of states. As long as this attitude continues–it will be difficult to find a solution to the conflict.

However–Oskanian mentioned the OSCE Minsk Group’s new approach at trying to find a solution that will take into consideration the principles of territorial sovereignty and the right to self-determination of peoples. The minister said–"We feel only this type of approach can bring about a peace plan." He also added that Putin has stated Russia will support any resolution that satisfies both Kocharian and Aliyev. Oskanian said the issue needs to be looked at from this overall context rather than just announcemen’s made by Baku.

On the other hand–a Russian newspaper–in its coverage of Putin’s visit to Azerbaijan–stated the current Russian policy toward Armenia can be described as restrained and expectative. The paper went on saying much is awaited from Putin’s upcoming visit to Armenia in May. It will also be interesting to see what relationship develops between the Bush Administration and the Armenian government.

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