Karabagh President Says Aliyev Not Ready for Conflict Resolution

YEREVAN (Armenpress/Yerkir)–Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) president Arkady Ghukasian–said in France last week that Azerbaijan is simply not ready to negotiate a settlement of the Karabagh conflict. "It is odd when the Azeri president says that Azerbaijan will not go for any concessions," Ghukasian said–referring to Ilham Aliyev’s deman’s for the return of "occupied territories," before sitting at the negotiating table with MKR. "President Aliyev is not ready for any discussion–let alone settlement of the conflict," he told reporters.

Ghukasian was in France for ceremonies marking the tenth anniversary of the establishment of a cease-fire in Karabagh–and met with the French co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group tasked with finding a resolution to the conflict.

Ghukasian spoke of MKR’s clear grasp on the limits of compromise. "We are realistic about what we want–and because everything is interrelated–the bounds of our compromise will depend on the level of compromise from Azerbaijan."

Asked about Azerbaijan’s tough stance–Ghukasian indicated Aliyev is unprepared to take any risk. "Presidents have to be more flexible; he [Aliyev] clearly understands that it is not possible to give back Karabagh–but continues to resist… in this respect Heydar Aliyev [former president] was more controlling of the situation," stressed Ghukasian.

Ghukasian said the Minsk Group co-chairmen would be visiting Armenia–Azerbaijan and Mountainous Karabagh later this month–possibly to introduce new proposals. He stressed–however–that Azerbaijan does not want to sit at the negotiation table with MKR. "This is of course an unacceptable position. Minsk Group French Co-chair Mr. Jacolin is very optimistic–and thinks that there are possibilities that must be employed," Ghukasian said.

Meanwhile Azeri president Ilham Aliyev confirmed Azerbaijan’s no compromise policy this week–during an address at a military base in Gianja (formerly Kirovabad). He stressed that Azerbaijan’s goal during negotiations on Mountainous Karabagh–is to regain "occupied territories," and not to concede on the issue of territorial integrity. "Azerbaijan is in favor of peace talks–but if they do not yield results–Azerbaijan will not tolerate the occupation of its lands."

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