Oskanian Says Karabagh Should be Party to Negotiations

Addressing the upcoming visit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group to the region December 5-8–Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said their new proposal would not be a "big surprise."

The Minsk Group was formed to help Azerbaijan and Armenia find a mutually acceptable peace formula to end the conflict over Mountainous Karabagh.

The co-chairs of the group recently told the OSCE Permanent Council that their activities would aim to restore direct dialogue between the two sides–the presidents of Armenian and Azerbaijan–and on other levels–and to introduce new ideas to complement existing ones.

"We prefer the package solution; to resume the negations process from another angle makes no sense," Oskanian noted.

He also stressed that negotiations should continue from where they were interrupted. "Heidar Alyiev and Robert Kocharian agreed on many issues–and it would be pity to put it all aside."

On the prospect of involving Mountainous Karabagh as the third side in negotiations–Oskanian said that Armenia never excluded the possibility of direct talks between Azerbaijan and Karabagh. "Karabagh’s participation in the talks is not final–but it is a possible format and should not be ruled out." In that scenario–Armenia would remain the security guarantor for Karabagh–Oskanian said. But as long as Azerbaijan does not agree to Karabagh’s involvement–Armenia will remain an active participant.

He also pointed out that while Armenia considers the Key West agreemen’s "actual," Azerbaijan does not accept them.

In an interview with the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta–the US Minsk Group co-chair Rudolph Perina–said that over 10 years of negotiations has produced a variety of possible options–of which five to six presently remaining acceptable. "We are trying to seek new approaches and to look at the problem from another angle . . . we will have new ideas–not new options–before the end of the year," he said.

Perina stressed that the final solution to the conflict and the final status of Karabagh must be developed in the course of multi-lateral relations and be acceptable to all sides–in order to bring in peace and stability to the region.

"I am not a supporter of force solutions. The conflict must be resolved only through negotiations–for which the leaders of the two countries must demonstrate flexibility and readiness to compromise [on] solutions," he said.

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