Oskanian Clarifies Karabakh Peace Process

YEREVAN (Armenpress)-Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian clarified Wednesday the specifics of the Karabakh settlement process, saying that within the last 10 years, under the OSCE Minsk Group auspices, three approaches had been discussed.
The Foreign Minister said that in the course of 10 years of Robert Kocharian’s rule, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs made three official proposals on the settlement: the "Common state" concept, a plan, which was discussed in Key West, and the latest proposal, based on the "Prague principles."
Oskanian was responding to allegations made by presidential candidate and first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosian, who alleged last week that the current regime was in agreement with an plan proposed by the US State Department that envisioned swapping Armenia’s Meghri region with Azerbaijan. This plan was proposed during Ter-Petrosian’s presidency.
"I declare with all responsibility that in either of those proposals, there is no notion of handing Meghri over to Azerbaijan. Being the chief negotiator from the Armenian side, I never held such talks," Oskanian stressed.
According to the Foreign Minister, at different points various plans on settlement were proposed, the authors of which were independent states or groups of people. "I have many such proposals in my box, but this does not mean that all of them became topics for negotiations," Vartan Oskanian stated.
"The Armenian side repulsed with idea of swapping Meghri never discussed this topic again," Armenian Foreign Minister stated.
Ter-Petrosian’s commen’s, echoed by some media outlets in Armenia that are supporting his presidential bid, accused the current regime of allegedly agreeing to the land-swap proposal in 1999.
Oskanian said the OSCE Minsk Group, the sole internationally organization mandated with helping Armenia and Azerbaijan settle the conflict, had never proposed a swap option.
Oskanian described the ex-president’s allegations as "a cheap election ploy."
Oskanian clarified that the Meghri plan was the brainchild of US State Department official Paul Goble, who at the time was serving as an Under-Secretary on former Soviet Union.
According to Oskanian, a narrow circle of Armenian leaders had discussed the so-called Goble plan back in 1994. Oskanian said he was present at the discussion in the capacity of a deputy foreign minister. Oskanian noted that Ter-Petrosian had expressed at that meeting that if the northern section of the Azeri exclave of Nakhichevan were given to Armenia to ensure a border with Iran, the Goble plan would be beneficial for Armenia.
But Oskanian said he could not say whether or not Ter-Petrosian wanted to hand Meghri to Azerbaijan.
The region of Meghri is vital for Armenia and has become the symbol of Iranian-Armenian partnership, Oskanian said, adding, that the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline and an inter-state highway run through Meghri, while an oil refinery and a hydroelectric power plant on the Arax River will soon be built in Meghri, he said. All these projects were conceived 10 years ago, he concluded.

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