Reports on Return of Liberated Regions Unfounded Says Oskanian

ADDRESSES 2ND PAN-ARMENIAN YOUTH CONFERENCE YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian denied reports that Armenia would return three liberated regions to Azerbaijan. He was speaking over the weekend at a pan-Armenian youth conference being held under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry.

He added that such a step is out of the question–because at the present stage of negotiations the focus is on the political status of Mountainous Karabagh–and until that matter is cleared up–examining other matters is meaningless.

Foreign Minister Oskanian said it is best to ignore such reports–because their intent may be to exploit the issue for political ends.

The conference is being held in Tsaghkadzor and Yerevan–July 24-29. It is the second in a series of youth conferences. The first was held in Yerevan in November 2002–following a decision by the Armenia-Diaspora Conference.

Answering a question regarding the youth’s not being informed enough regarding the Karabagh conflict–Oskanian said information must be viewed as falling into one of two categories: (1) general information and (2) the actual substance of the negotiations.

He said that providing access to the latter type of information might actually prove harmful–because the process of negotiations has not yet reached the stage at which popular input has become necessary.

As for the former type of information–he said–the history of the conflict is clear–there is sufficient information–the press has taken an active role? and if some youth are nevertheless still uninformed–then that is their own failing.

Addressing the conference–Oskanian briefly spoke about the background of the Karabagh question–its most recent development in 1988 to the various stages of negotiation–and its evolution from the political arena to the historical and the legal.

He welcomed the idea–put forth by the Karabagh representative–of establishing an information center on the Karabagh conflict and proposed that a delegation of those putting forth the initiative visit the Foreign Ministry to present the project in detail and discuss the question of the ministry may be of assistance to the center.

Regarding the matter of speaking with a unified voice in international forums–Oskanian said political forces may have differences of opinion–particularly on matters internal to Armenia–they are nevertheless very careful regarding issues that may have an impact on the Karabagh question.

"It is true that when they are abroad–representing Armenia within international organizations–they must be able to speak with one voice on the most important matters–because that is how other [countries’] delegations are," Oskanian stressed.

Speaking of differences of opinion among Diasporan-Armenian organizations and lobbying groups–the Foreign Minister said the ministry attempts to coordinate their efforts–and for that very purpose a meeting of lobbying organizations was recently held in Armenia.

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