OSCE Co Chairman Discusses Conflict Status

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The United State remains true to the process of peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict and will do its best to consolidate the progress recently observed in the negotiations–re-appointed Co-Chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group Rudolf Perina told an October 24 press conference in Yerevan.

"It’s clear that a settlement to the conflict should be found. Our goal is to carry the process through," Perina said. According to him–the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group for the Karabakh settlement did not "freeze" the negotiation process–on the contrary–a progress was registered in the process during the past one year: "I do not think this process is frozen–the Minsk Group has done a good deal of work". It is natural that the closer we get to the settlement the more problems arise," Perina said.

He said the meetings of the Armenian and Azeri presidents were productive–pointing out that the two presidents have made progress in their dialogue. He did not exclude the possibility of holding meetings on different levels for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. While answering journalist’s question about the readiness of the societies in the two countries for making a decision on the conflict settlement–Perina noticed that the results of the negotiations must be kept secret but the decisions to be made must be admissible for society: "The Minsk Group must pay special attention to this issue." Besides–the Co-Chairmen consider the possibility that at a certain moment the representatives of Karabakh will also take part in the negotiations: "No settlement is possible if the authorities and the people of Karabakh are against it."

Rudolf Perina focused on the situation the world has had since the September 11 events. He said the world has entered a new age of international relations and here it is very important to understand the importance of the new age for the Caucasus region and the Karabakh conflict. He said that the new age will bring new priorities–one of them being the settlement of regional conflicts. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairman emphasized that the settlement of such conflicts is also important for the United States–since such conflicts lead to instability and hamper the economic growth and the use of necessary resources. He said that the United States is interested in the way this region can help them in the struggle against international terrorism. "All these events created new conditions for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict–I would not like to see this conflict freeze. If it does freeze–it will hamper the development of Armenia–Azerbaijan and the entire region".

Perina said that the United States is seriously considering the waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. According to him–the Section "may be put aside" because it is in the US’ interests to take actions against Osama bin Laden. He said that the waiver of 907 will not affect the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Besides–the assistance to Azerbaijan will not help its military operations–the waiver of Section 907 will create an opportunity for rendering additional assistance to Armenia–"All the previous US administrations have been against this waiver thinking that it will not help the settlement of the Karabakh conflict."

Perina said that the visit of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen on the Karabakh settlement to the region will be made November 3-8. At the end of this week–the Co-Chairmen will meet in Lisbon.

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