International mission fails to find settlers in Karabakh - Armenian paper

Azg, Yerevan
2 Feb 05


Text of Tatul Akopyan's report by Armenian newspaper Azg on 2 February
headlined "OSCE monitoring mission on banks of Araz" and subheaded
"They are looking for settlers in these territories"

A retired Italian diplomat, (?Mario Sika), has told us that he and the
other members of the [OSCE] monitoring mission do not want journalist
to approach them when they talked to locals. Sika used to be the
assistant of Mario Raffaelli, the first chairman of the OSCE Minsk
Group, and unlike other diplomats, he visited the NKR [Nagornyy
Karabakh Republic] at the time when Azerbaijan had occupied 48 per
cent of its area.

There has been no case of hindering the activities of the monitoring
mission, as Europeans and an American, who have covered dozens of
kilometres inspecting the region, have met only a shepherd, a farmer
and a few people passing the road.

On 2 February, Yuriy Merzlyakov and Bernard Fassier, the OSCE Minsk
Group co-chairs, spent the whole day on the left bank of the Araz
River in Cabrayil and Fuzuli districts that formerly belonged to
Azerbaijan. Steven Mann, the US co-chair, returned to Washington after
having visited Karvachar [Kalbacar].

Ms Emily Haber, head of the monitoring mission, in response to our
question whether the Karabakh authorities supported their activities
or created any technical obstacles to hinder the mission's work, said
that everything was wonderful and that they visited any area they
wished.

"Ms Haber, may I write in our newspaper that the Karabakh authorities
have created all the required conditions for your activities?" I asked
the German lady who kept smiling all the time. "Yes, you may write
that," she said. This seems to be the only comment I managed to
get. Neither Ms Haber nor the members of the mission nor the OSCE
co-chairs answered other questions. "No comment. It is a technical not
a political mission," Ms Haber said, though they had promised earlier
that they would have a press spokesman.

Obviously, the monitoring mission arrived in the NKR from Baku through
Yerevan "armed" with maps. The members of the mission are looking for
settlers in different places, but they fail to find them. In Cabrayil
and Fuzuli they did not find a single inhabited house. The situation
differed in Karvachar, where residents of Shaumyan [Goranboy],
Getashen [Caykand] and Mardakert [Agdara] occupied by Azerbaijan
settled after their houses and possessions were seized in 1991-92.

After finishing the monitoring, the OSCE mission will prepare a report
for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. They have to find out whether
Armenia and the NKR are conducting an official policy of settlement in
areas outside Nagornyy Karabakh's administrative border.

A Minsk Group co-chair has said in a conversation with us that
processes like this do not contribute to the settlement of the
Karabakh issue but to some extent distract attention from the essence
of the conflict. Asked about whether they are going to carry out
monitoring [of the part] of Shaumyan, Getashen and Mardakert occupied
by Azerbaijan, a member of the mission said that this could not be
ruled out if Armenia applied to the UN in this regard.

In 1991, the Azerbaijani authorities settled people in over 100,000
houses. Armenians used to live in those houses and were forced to
leave their permanent place of residence.

The OSCE monitoring mission and the Minsk Group co-chairs are expected
to continue inspecting the left bank of Araz in Zangilan District that
formerly belonged to Azerbaijan.