Azeri Opposition Furious Over Aliyev’s Remarks

BAKU (Armenpress)–The announcement by Azeri President Haydar Aliyev last week that he had achieved an agreement in Paris with Armenian President Robert Kocharian on a land swap option to regulate the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has had a bomb explosion effect–Azeri Turan news agency reported.

Aliyev’s apparent willingness to surrender a part of Azerbaijan’s territory and to retreat from his original denial that the Paris principles exist has made the opposition furious.

Turan–particularly–quoted the leader of the Musavat party Isa Ghambar saying that Aliyev has flatly denied more than once the very existence of the so-called Paris principles.

"Politicians and especially heads of states do not have the right to deceive people," he said–adding that the idea of a land swap was unacceptable.

Former foreign minister Tofik Zulfugarov–who had been an active participant in the negotiations for more than eight years–also pointed to the fact that Azeri officials had been denying the existence of Paris principles. "This shows that they are lying to the people," he said. He also said any such proposed exchange of territories should be put to a nationwide referendum.

Aliyev made the announcement last week when meeting Hugues Pernet–the newly appointed French co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group. He said that during talks in Paris in March 2001–he and his Armenian counterpart Kocharian reached an agreement on various points–including that Armenia will cede to Azerbaijan a corridor of territory through its southern Meghri district that will become a sovereign part of Azerbaijan in return for the same status being granted to the Lachin corridor between the unrecognized Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Armenia.

These allegations were denied by highly placed Armenian sources.

According to a source in the foreign ministry–the agreement provided only for Azerbaijan "to use the Meghri road" that connects Azerbaijan with its exclave of Nakhichevan–while the Lachin corridor would be recognized as a sovereign part of Armenia.

The source said that Aliyev retreated from that initial agreement after the Key West talks–insisting that the Meghri and Lachin agreemen’s be symmetrical–after which the negotiating process "collapsed." The official said the Armenian government will request permission from the OSCE Minsk Group to make the agreement reached in Paris available to the public in order to prove that Aliyev "distorted" the facts.

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