Minsk Group Co Chairmen Meet in Paris

PARIS–The US–French and Russian Co-chairmen of the OSCE Minks Group were joined by the special representative to the chairman in office of the OSCE Wednesday to discuss the Karabakh peace process–following the recent by the US Co-chair Matthew Bryza to the region.

Bryza briefed his Russian and French counterparts Yuri Merzlyakov and Bernard Fassier Yuri–as well as the OSCE Chairman in Office representative Andrzej Kasprzyk about his recent visit to Yerevan–Stepanakert and Baku.

Sources close to the discussion stated that the Minsk Group leaders are expected to recommend a meeting between Armenian foreign minister Vartan Oskanian and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammedyarov to be held in Prague.

In Yerevan–director of political affairs for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Giro Manoyan told the Hayots Ashkhar daily that Bryza’s visit to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic could be viewed as an indication that the Minsk Group was considering to bring back Stepanakert into the negotiating process.

Manoyan told the newspaper that before agreeing to a future referendum of independence in Karabakh–the Armenian side must make sure that Azerbaijan would not be able to thwart the vote or reject its results.

"If the parties agree to hold a referendum clarifying Karabakh’s status three or five years after signing an accord–it must be made clear that in case of a failure to hold it for any reason Karabakh will automatically become a part of Armenia," he says.

Meanwhile–the human rights group Refugees for International Law–in a letter–appealed to the OSCE Co-chairmen to include the issue of Armenian refugees displaced by Azeri ethnic cleansing efforts in Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan within the ongoing negotiations.

In the letter–the organization pointed out that the status of the 500,000 Armenian refugees from the Baku and Sumgait pogroms in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s–as well from ethnic cleansing operations in Nakhichevan at that time needed to be a part of the Minsk Group peace process agenda.

"From the legal point of view the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is the only legal successor of Soviet Azerbaijan. We believe a partial resolution of the issue would be if Karabakh citizenship were granted to the Armenian refugees in territories outside Karabakh boundaries but within its jurisdiction today," stressed the human rights organization’s appeal.

Similar letters have been sent to leaders of both Armenia and Azerbaijan by the same group.

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