Russian Foreign Minister Signals Progress in Peace Talks

MOSCOW (Armenpress)–Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference Wednesday that there were significant inroads in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process during 2006. He said that Russia is one of co-chairmen of the OSCE’s Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh, whose key goal is "to help the sides come to agreement". Lavrov refused to predict an exact time of settlement of the conflict, saying such commen’s would not be beneficial to the process. Meanwhile in Baku, Azeri Presidential administrator Ali Hasanov said that the Nagonrno-Karabakh conflict would be top priority for Azerbaijan in 2007, adding that "next year progress is possible in the Nagorno Karabakh issue." Hasanov did not rule out that other organizations may be involved in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict "in case the negotiations in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group turn unproductive." Azerbaijan intends to unite the UN and OSCE and to raise the issue in the Council of Europe, European Union and NATO, as well as in the Islamic Conference Organization. It intends to unite the efforts of those countries having "frozen conflicts" on their territories," said the representative of Azeri President’s Administration. Noting that the economy and military potential of Azerbaijan are increasing, Armenia’said that if before "Azerbaijan was relying upon the influence of the international community, now the army and economy of Azerbaijan will be able to restore the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan." According to the Azeri official, in 2007 the Karabakh issue will become number one issue in Azerbaijan."

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