Karabagh’s Inclusion in Peace Negotiations up to Sides Say OSCE Mediators

YEREVAN (Noyan-Tapan/RFE-RL/Yerkir)–In a press conference held on Wednesday in Yerevan–OSCE’s Minsk Group mediators announced that they would not bring any new proposals for the conflicting sides. "I did not think the Minsk Group should make new proposals. We are working with the sides to help them find practical and stable solutions to the problem," explained US Co-chair Stephen Mann.

Speaking about the possibility of Karabagh’s participation in the peace negotiations–the mediators made clear that the conflicting parties themselves must decide.

"I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the responsibility for the Karabagh settlement lies with the sides. We leave the question of Karabagh’s inclusion in the talks to the sides. They must solve and specify this problem by themselves," said Mann.

After meeting with the co-chairs in Stepanakert on Tuesday–Mountainous Karabagh Republic president Arkady Ghukassian emphasized that no final settlement of the conflict is possible without Karabagh’s full participation in negotiations.

French co-chair Henry Jacolin meanwhile said that it is not the OSCE and its Minsk Group that have exhausted all resources to resolve the conflict–hinting rather that the conflicting sides have done so. "This is a good format of negotiations–although it has been criticized a lot. The format is fully acceptable for the Armenian president," Jacolin said.

Last month the OSCE co-chairs held another round of negotiations in Prague between Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers trying to break a deadlock.

The Russian co-chair Yuri Merzlyakov rejected the criticism of the "Prague Process," saying that the initiation of the Prague talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers would not necessarily mean that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are less interested in resolving the conflict.

"The meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Warsaw made possible the Prague meetings between co-chairs and Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan," said Merzlyakov.

The Russian co-chair also did not rule out that the next meeting between Kocharian and Aliyev could be held in September when leaders of CIS meet again.

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