In Preparation of Key West

YEREVAN (combined sources)–Just two weeks prior to the Key West talks on Karabakh–statemen’s clarifying the positions of Armenia–Azerbaijan–and Karabakh are being made by leaders of the three republics. Armenian President Robert Kocharian has announced the serious issues that may arise for the side that starts hostilities. Arkady Ghoukasian–president of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic–has noted that the Key West negotiations are only the continuation of the existing process. Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev has once again announced the readiness of the Azerbaijani people to take back Karabakh my military means. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–who met with US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday in Washington–also discussed the upcoming negotiations in Florida.

During a meeting with students in Yerevan on March 21–President Kocharian referred to the talks between him and Aliyev over the past two years as an important achievement. The fact that many of these meetings were held one on one without mediators is a first step forward in resolving the conflict. According to Kocharian–these meetings have come to a close since all possible plans have been discussed. There are issues which both Armenia and Azerbaijan can reach an agreement on–however–the OSCE Minsk Group must carry the weight of other issues.

Realizing the danger in the resumption of the war–Kocharian announced–" Whoever begins the war–will lose. Armenia does not intend on starting the war. The side that begins the war will face serious issues. This will also be a political defeat since the international community will condemn these actions."

Kocharian added that recent talk in Azerbaijan calling for the recurrence of war–is coming from those who have been defeated in the past. The possibility of another round of negotiations to be held in Moscow after the Key West talks was not considered groundless by Kocharian.

NKR President Arkady Ghoukasian–during a parliamentary session on March 21–announced that the Key West talks between Kocharian and Aliyev is the continuation of earlier negotiations. Ghoukasian added that no agreemen’s have so far been reached–and no documen’s will be signed.

The same day–Heydar Aliyev again warned that his country’s dispute with Armenia could lead to renewed violence. Addressing a rally to mark the Novruz celebrations–Aliyev said if efforts to find a peaceful settlement failed–Azerbaijan would use other means for what he called the liberation of occupied territories.

"Azerbaijan hopes that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict will be settled peacefully. But if a peaceful settlement of this conflict is not attained–the Azerbaijani people will display all their strength and power and liberate the occupied Azerbaijani lands by military means," the president said.

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