Azerbaijan believes Nagorno-Karabakh talks necessary - Aliyev

Sept 3 2004

Baku. (Interfax-Azerbaijan) - Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev
has said he believes negotiations on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict should be continued.

"The fact that I have not yet abandoned negotiations on Nagorno-
Karabakh means that I believe in their productivity. I have said
repeatedly that I am not going to take part in negotiations just
to imitate them. If we see at some point that negotiations are
inefficient, Azerbaijan will be the first to stop this process. Now
I believe there is a need for negotiations," Aliyev told the press
in Naxcivan on Thursday.

"The negotiations are underway, and foreign ministers continue
to meet. But we have so far been unable to reach any agreement,"
Aliyev said.

He said he hopes "the negotiations will bring about a result."

Touching on criticism that some CIS countries leveled at the OSCE at
the latest summit in July, the Azerbaijani president said, "Our opinion
was expressed at the summit in July, when Azerbaijan did not sign this
statement. We are pursuing a policy independent from anybody," he said.

"This independence is above all for us. Therefore, relations between
us and the OSCE concern only us. We could also be critical about the
OSCE activity, and we have expressed this criticism. I personally
expressed our displeasure in a very harsh form right after elections.
But these issues concern only us," he said.

"The issue that was raised at the July summit is of a political nature,
and Azerbaijan is not going to join this issue," he said.

Baku lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and areas adjacent to it in
a bloody conflict with Armenia in the early 1990s. Co-chairmen of
the OSCE Minsk Group representing the U.S., Russia, and France are
mediating in the conflict settlement.