Nalbandian Upbeat on Prospects for Karabakh Solution

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s foreign minister sounded optimistic about the prospects of a solution in the long-running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between, saying that such a solution would open up new possibilities for regional cooperation.

But Edward Nalbandian denied that Turkey will gain influence over Armenia as a result of what the two hitherto estranged nations see as an opportunity for rapprochement.

The top Armenian diplomat called it an ‘obvious exaggeration’ to speak about possible Turkish influence on Armenia as he commented on Azerbaijani media reports suggesting that Turkey is keen on increasing its role in the settlement of the long-running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

A number of media in Azerbaijan recently quoted Matthew Bryza, the United States cochairman of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that advances a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as saying in Baku that “Turkey may have its contribution to the Karabakh settlement process and help Armenia appear from a more flexible position.”

“If we believe the citations of the Azerbaijani media, then Mr. Bryza must have mistakenly used the name of Armenia instead of Azerbaijan, since Turkey may use its influence to make Azerbaijan’s position more flexible, proceeding from the reality that the leaders of both Turkey and Azerbaijan, speaking of Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, have repeatedly described them using the “one nation, two states” formula,” Nalbandian underscored.

According to the press office of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, speaking about the veracity of the reports about a meeting of Armenian and Turkish diplomats in Switzerland, Nalbandian said: “There have always been contacts between Armenian and Turkish diplomats, and there is nothing extraordinary about these meetings.”

Commenting on the possibility of a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey in New York with the mediation of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, the top Armenian diplomat reminded that he agreed with Babacan in Yerevan still in early September to have a meeting in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Mr. Babacan also proposed that a meeting should be organized in a tripartite format. I am not against the organization of such a meeting,” Nalbandian said.

Regarding the reports in the Turkish press about a possible signing of some documen’s during the New York meeting, Nalbandian said: “Upon the instructions of the presidents of Armenia and Turkey, as a result of the negotiations held with Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan, we, the two foreign ministers, expressed our complete resolve to achieve a full normalization of bilateral relations, and we are trying to make steps in this direction. I hope that we will go that way without raising artificial obstacles to each other.”

Nalbandian reiterated Armenia’s position that the OSCE Minsk Group is the current format of negotiations, which “has proved its viability and enjoys the support of the international community.”

“The negotiating process is continuing in this format, on the basis of the proposals made by the cochairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group. I think that today there are good prerequisites for the settlement of the problem, which may create new opportunities for regional cooperation for all countries,” Nalbandian concluded.


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