Ghoukasian Calls for Return of Shahumian, Getashen

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–OSCE Chairman-in-Office had a meeting Tuesday with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Presdient Arkady Ghoukasian after which at a press conference, the Karabakh leader called for the return of Shahumian and Getashen as territories occupied by Azerbaijan.
“I agree that the main issue is the status of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Ghoukasian told RFE/RL after the meeting. “I cannot imagine what optimism we can speak about unless we come to agreement on this issue.”
Unlike the OSCE official, Ghukasian does not pin great hopes on the upcoming Kocharian-Aliev meeting.
“I don’t think this meeting can have any significant importance. I think it will be a routine meeting,” he said, but added. “I don’t think there can be a limit [of routine meetings], considering that negotiations have no alternative.”
OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos urged the parties to the Karabakh conflict to “take the important moment to achieve progress in the negotiations.”
The Spanish Foreign Minister said during his meeting with his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian in Yerevan on Tuesday that there are sufficient grounds for the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliyev, to achieve progress during their meeting in Saint-Petersburg on June 9.
The OSCE official said the dialogue of the two heads of state contributes to the speediest resolution of the problem.
“We will do everything for a speedy solution to be found,” the OSCE Chairman-in-Office said. “The parties today are close to a settlement.”
Expanding on his statement, the official said the sides are showing political will to reach a solution.
“It is better to be optimistic. The parties to the conflict should be encouraged with optimism, one shouldn’t make false predictions,” Moratinos emphasized.
Answering a Spanish journalist’s question about disputable points on which the sides have not yet reached agreement, Oskanian said, “[Among them is] first of all the issue of the right to self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is impossible to speak about any other matter without it%u226 We should be able to focus on the main issue, and that is Nagorno-Karabakh’s status.”
“For Armenia the main issue is the status of Nagorno Karabakh, it is not worth speaking about other things without solving that issue,” said Oskanian during the press conference.
The Armenian foreign minister reminded that the Nagorno Karabakh conflict broke out exactly from that very fact that Azeri authorities turned down the people of Nagorno Karabakh’s right to self-determination. “All subsequent events-‘sthe blockade, war perpetrated by Azerbaijan–turned the conflict into an intractable problem. I repeat once again, only after determining status of Nagorno Karabakh will we discuss any issues concerning the Karabakh process,” underscored Oskanian.
The Armenian Foreign Minister also acknowledged that
every meeting between presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan was one more step toward reaching progress in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict resolution process.
“We hope that progress will be registered during the negotiations, which will allow us to achieve peace more quickly. However, the progress may be reached only in case of mutual agreement,” Oskanian said.
Meanwhile in Baku, Azeri foreign ministry officials criticized the OSCE of being passive in its attempts to establish peace in the region.
If OSCE wishes to increase its authority, it must become a more effective organization by not being neutral, Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister, President’s Special Representative on the Nagorno Karabakh Problem Araz Azimov told journalists in Baku Monday.
“OSCE’s efficiency may consist in restoring the broken principles of the organization with the example of the Karabakh conflict,” added Azimonv following the visit of the OSCE Chairman in Office Monday.
He said Moratinos’s current visit to the region demonstrated the interests of the organization in the Nagorno Karabakh problem.
However, in Azimov’s opinion, the desire must not be limited only by the chairmanship of OSCE. “Support of OSCE member-states and particularly of the Minsk Group countries is necessary,” said Azimov.
Meanwhile, Azimov’s superior, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said Monday that “the referendum on the status of Nagorno Karabakh should be held throughout Azerbaijan.”
“Holding a referendum only in Nagorno Karabakh contradicts the Constitution of Azerbaijan,” asserted the Azeri official.

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