Azeri daily questions Karabakh remarks by US envoy to Armenia

Zerkalo, Baku
26 Feb 05

Excerpt from Rauf Mirqadirov's report by Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo
on 26 February headlined "'Karabakh cannot be given to Azerbaijan as
this will be a disaster,' the US ambassador to Armenia, John Evans,
reportedly says"

"The idea of separatism in the 20th century is comparable to society's
taboo on a divorce in the 19th century. The Armenian and Azerbaijani
presidents should finally take a political step and move forward,"
the US ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, told representatives of the
Armenian diaspora in San Francisco asked about the prospects for the
settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Regnum news agency quotes the
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) as saying.

Evans said that at present, there is no good reason for optimism
about the settlement of the Karabakh conflict because neither Armenia
nor Azerbaijan are close to making their own choice of the conflict
settlement, ANCA reported. Although the USA respects the territorial
integrity of states, "everyone realizes that Karabakh cannot be given
to Azerbaijan as this would be a disaster", Evans said.

[Passage omitted: details of Evans's statement and Karabakh discussions
at the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe]

It is worth pointing out right at the start that it is doubtful that
the US ambassador to Armenia has made such clear statements about
the future of Nagornyy Karabakh, especially as this information was
disseminated quoting ANCA, which can hardly be trusted. However,
such statements are another reason to remember the double position
of Western countries, including the USA, on the unsettled conflicts
in the post-Soviet area.

[Passage omitted: statement of former US co-chairman of the OSCE
Minsk Group; international community always declares its support for
Azerbaijan's territorial integrity]

Now let us talk about direct negotiations with representatives of
the Nagornyy Karabakh Armenians. The author of this article has
repeatedly said that Azerbaijan should be more flexible about this
issue. It is hardly expedient to immediately reject direct contacts
with the Nagornyy Karabakh Armenians, especially as the resolution
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which meets
Azerbaijan's interests on the whole, contains a call for this.

However, as a condition for establishing direct contacts with the
Nagornyy Karabakh Armenians, it is necessary to demand that Armenia
officially recognize Azerbaijan's territorial integrity within its
internationally-recognized borders. Moreover, this requirement is
fully in line with international legal norms and no-one, not even
the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, will dare to oppose this
position. Azerbaijan should announce that until Armenia makes an
official statement on the recognition of our country's territorial
integrity, Azerbaijan will regard the Karabakh problem only as a
conflict between the two states.