Minsk Group Offers Modified Peace Proposals

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A regular meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will be held in Moscow in late November.

This announcement was made during a press briefing of the OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen in Yerevan on Wednesday. The cochairmen expressed their satisfaction with the regional tour.

They confirmed their resolve to continue to work together in close cooperation.

"The most important thing is that we leave the region as optimists rather than pessimists–since we feel that the time spent in the region was not wasted. Presidents Aliyev and Kocharian are still interested in the work of the Minsk Group and we will continue to make efforts to resolve this very intricate problem," said Vyacheslav Trubnikov–the First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia.

Rudolf Perrina–the US cochairman–said that the meetings in the region had given the them a clear notion about the positions of the two presidents. He expressed hope that both presidents would find the possibility to continue the dialogue around the remaining issues. In Trubnikov’s opinion–the two presidents’ good will is needed for a meeting and dialogue in Moscow and both sides do have this good will. He expressed optimism that the upcoming meeting "would become a step forward." The cochairmen’stated that they were going to concentrate their efforts on practical confidence building measures addressing concrete issues. "We deem that confidence building measures meet the interests of the peoples and will not be superficial," said Philippe Suremain of France. According to him–the cochairmen informed Kocharian about the position stated by President Aliyev. The French negotiator pointed out that at present both presidents have a clear idea of each other’s positions.

As for the new proposals–Russia’s Trubnikov said: "We do not propose anything radically new–we worked on the plans discussed earlier by the two presidents in Paris and Key West. We made more detailed proposals in regards to separate elemen’s of the scheme–which is already known to both presidents. The novelty is in details." According to him–the cochairmen’still think that there is no need to devise new plans–because the plan being worked at has already been discussed by the two presidents.

As for the contradictions in the position of President Aliyev–who–on the one hand makes bellicose appeals to restart hostilities–and on the other hand gives assurances of his commitment to a peaceful settlement during meetings with cochairmen. Trubnikov said that President Aliyev is a hostage of people supporting a military way of settling the conflict. According to him–the negotiations with Aliyev led the cochairmen to believe that the Azeri leadership has no intentions to solve the problem by any means other than peaceful means. At the recent meeting of the OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen in Lisbon a clear position on the militarist expressions in the region was demonstrated: "We condemn such statemen’s. I am sure that neither the Armenian nor the Azeri side are not getting prepared for any military solution–we made it sure while crossing the contact line. Further–we saw the desire of the military on both sides not to take part in military operations by any means."

As for the participation of the Karabakh in the talks–the international mediators rejected to specify a date when this would be possible. The cochairmen’said that the dialogue between the Armenian and Azerbaijani president had not yet been exhausted.

Nagorno Karabakh Foreign Minister Naira Melkumyan said in an interview on Armenian television on Tuesday that during the Stepanakert meeting–the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group noted the necessity of creating a climate of mutual trust between the conflicting parties.

"It is very important that the international mediators do not reject the agreemen’s on the Karabakh conflict settlement reached in the Paris and Key West talks," she said.

Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met with the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen on Tuesday. As it was reported from the press office of the Foreign Ministry–during the meeting the sides discussed the process of a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict. They excluded any military solution to the settlement–and Oskanian stressed the unacceptability of warlike statemen’s of Aliyev to the OSCE cochairmen.

President Robert Kocharian met with the OSCE delegation on Wednesday. The Presidential press service told reporters that the co-chairmen presented their impression from Azerbaijan and Karabakh to Kocharian. The co-chairmen’stated that during the meeting with Kocharian they informed the president about Heydar Aliyev’s opinion concerning the process of negotiations. According to group–both presidents are well aware of each other’s position.

The Azeri and Armenian presidents have a new project–"but it is early to say if the sides have any objections as the project is still under discussion," stressed the co-chairmen.

The OSCE negotiators also said that they consider the visit to region was effective–stating that they leave optimistic as–"both countries are resolute in their will to settle the conflict peacefully."

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