Armenia, Azerbaijan Differ on Karabakh Progress Assessment

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenian on Monday said a January 23 meeting between the Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers was positive and progress was made in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process. Commenting on a statement made by Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov who characterized the same meeting as a "step back," Armenia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Vladimir Karapetian said "certain progress was made during the meeting."Armenian foreign minister has, on numerous occasions, presented our position regarding the talks. The negotiations are being conducted over the main principles and the sides are defending their interests," said Karapetian. In Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Deputy Foreign Minister Massis Mayilian said in an interview that discussing the Karabakh issue outside of the OSCE framework would hinder any achievemen’s reached in conflict resolution process thus far. "We welcome every step that could be helpful for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. However, in the past few years, we have seen that discussion of the Karabakh conflict in different international organizations other than the OSCE, was not productive, moreover, those discussions can produce the opposite effect," Mayilian said in his interview with "Karabakh Open." The Deputy Foreign Minister said that as a rule, Azerbaijan was ready to report the conflict to different international organizations to intensify information and psychological confrontation in the region and pressure both Armenian states. The misinterpretation of the essence of the conflict may also do harm to the settlement of the conflict, which was the case with the report of the PACE reporter on the Karabakh conflict. Therefore, to avoid this, the actors of these discussions should mind in their efforts to promote the settlement of the conflict and not to risk veering from the resolution of the conflict," he noted. As for the report of the Rapporteur on MIA and POW’s in Nagorno Karabakh Leo Platvoet, Mayilyan expressed regret that the Rapporteur used unchecked data received from Baku. "The Karabakh has pointed to the fact that the Azeri data on missing people are false. The Azeri government hides the real number of its losses during the height of the military operations by multiplying the number. Moreover, it is highly probable that part of the people mentioned in the Azeri records of the missing deserted in the midst of the war and are now living in Russia and other countries. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, in 1997 the total number of the missing in the area of the conflict, both Armenian and Azerbaijani, was 2229. Considering that the ICRC collected the data in the three years following the cease-fire, they could not have undergone major changes later. At the same time, it should be noted that the recommendations of the report by Leo Platvoet include several statemen’s set forth by the Karabakh side, namely criticism against politicization of the issue of the missing, as well as the necessity for setting up contacts between the state commission of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and its Azeri counterpart for productive cooperation over the given issue," explained Mayilyan. In discussing the frequent cases of Azeri soldiers crossing over the Karabakh border, Mayilian said that the Karabakh government adhered to the Geneva Conventions and each case was reported to Stepanakert offices of the ICRC and the OSCE, after which the prisoners were returned to Azerbaijan by the ICRC. "As a member of the Karabakh State Commission on POWs and MIA’s, I state that presently there are no POWs and missing people in the territory of our republic. As to the fact that recently more Azeri soldiers have been imprisoned, the reasons may differ. According to the Azeri military experts, the reason might be ill-treatment of soldiers in the Azeri armed forces and units located at the front line, corruption among commissioned officers, as well as the low morale and weak preparation of the Azeri soldiers," said the Deputy Foreign Minister. As for the negotiation process son the Karabakh conflict settlement, Mayilyan said that obviously, the upcoming elections in Armenia and Karabakh will have an effect on the momentum of the negotiations. He added that talks were expected to intensify in the fall.

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