Karabagh Conflict Settlement Has Changed With Aliyev Jr.

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The dynamics to a settlement to the Karabagh conflict has changed with Ilham Aliyev in power–Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said during a Monday interview with Armenian Public Television.

Oskanian elaborated–saying that a resolution was close at hand when Haydar Aliyev was in power–as he was ready to compromise. "He was a realist and believed that he had a moral right to take serious steps in this direction and an ability to convince his people that those steps complied with their interests," said Oskanian–explaining that Key-West agreemen’s clearly document this position.

Aliyev later abandoned this position under pressure from advisors–as well as his son Ilham who believed that their regime would weaken. "That is why they–particularly Ilham–continue to oppose the agreemen’s," elaborated Oskanian.

As for his Azeri counterpart–Vilayat Guliyev’s claims that neither the Paris nor Key West principles are valid–or even exist; Oskanian stated that he is ready to present a copy to Guliyev. "Any agreement is valid as long as the parties are negotiating on it. Azerbaijan refuses to conduct negotiations based on these documen’s–while Armenia considers them a serious basis for continuation of the talks and for settlement of the problem as a whole," said Oskanian.

On Tuesday–Guliyev told the Baku-based Ekho newspaper that the only principles for Azerbaijan are the norms of international law and the inviolability of Azerbaijani borders. We do not know about other principles–and they do not exist."

Oskanian also took the opportunity to address the division among Armenian delegates at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) winter session in Strasbourg–January 26-30.

Two of Armenia’s delegates representing the opposition pushed their internal issues during the PACE session–said Oskanian–and unsuccessfully tried to get the body to back the idea of a change of power–and diminish a national vote of confidence in President Kocharian–while the other members of the delegation–acting more rationally to protect national interests–"had to struggle against not only libel on the part of Azerbaijan–but also problems created by our own opposition," stressed Oskanian.

Oskanian said such discord among the members of Armenia’s PACE delegation only serve to impair national interests–and promised to take the issue to the National Assembly’s leadership. "I want to raise the question pointblank–because if we maintain the current pattern of action at the PACE session–we will suffer a defeat; we need unity."

Oskanian did express satisfaction about the change in language of a PACE statement explicitly referring to Mountainous Karabagh as an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan–which had read–"the conflict over Mountainous Karabagh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan."

The Armenian side strongly protested against the word "other" on the grounds that it predetermines a pro-Azerbaijani solution to the dispute.

The final version of the PACE statement notes that "there has been no progress in the negotiations on a settlement of the conflict over Mountainous Karabagh and the occupied territories of Azerbaijan." It also welcomes Armenia’s complete abolition of the death penalty–ratification of several pan-European conventions–and passage of a law introducing an alternative to compulsory military service. The latter was a key condition for the country’s admission into the Council of Europe three years ago.

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