------------------------------------------ ----
Government House # 2, Republic Square
Yerevan 0010, Republic of Armenia
Telephone: +37410. 544041 ext 202
Fax: +37410. 562543
Email: [email protected] <>



Vartan Oskanian Comments on the Statement of the Co-Chairs of the
OSCE Minsk Group in an Interview to Armenpress

ARMENPRESS: The co-chairs in their statement say that ³our approach has been
a modified one: we have not tried to solve all aspects of the conflict in
one phase. Instead our principles seek to achieve a major degree of progress
but defer some very difficult issues to the future and envision further
negotiations.² What does this mean?

OSKANIAN: The actual negotiating document on the principles that is on the
table today is all-encompassing. It covers all the principles affecting the
resolution of the conflict. It includes the core issue of status of Nagorno
Karabakh, territories, refugees, security issues, peacekeeping and every
other conceivable issue that is necessary in order to arrive at a lasting
resolution of the conflict. Only after full agreement on all these basic
principles would the parties, as the actual negotiating text says, ³in
cooperation with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group to begin work on the
elaboration of an agreement on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh
conflict.² In other words, the agreement on principles will be
comprehensive. The final agreement may envision implementation over time.

ARMENPRESS: In their report, the co-chairs say ³the principles include the
phased redeployment of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territories around
Nagorno Karabakh, with special modalities for Kelbajar and Lachin
districts.² What are these special modalities?

OSKANIAN: This formulation is indeed very broad, and for a reason. This
issue has two layers. One is the issue of Lachin, where the actual
negotiating text on principles provides clear language stating that there
will be ³a corridor linking Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia.² For Armenia, it¹s
very clear that this corridor must have the same status as Nagorno Karabakh.
The second layer is the issue of Kelbajar. For Armenia, this also is clear:
based on security concerns, Kelbajar can be returned only after the
referendum is conducted and the final status of NK is determined.
Azerbaijan¹s position is different on Kelbajar. That¹s the disagreement that
the co-chairs are addressing in their statement. The co-chairs¹ language in
the actual negotiating text, with regard to this issue, is generally in line
with our approach.

ARMENPRESS: The co-chairs say that there will be a referendum / popular vote
³to determine the final legal status of Nagorno Karabakh,² but they don¹t
say who will vote.

OSKANIAN: The actual negotiating text on principles clearly specifies that
³the final legal status will be determined through a referendum / population
vote by the population of Nagorno Karabakh.²

ARMENPRESS: The co-chairs also say ³certain interim arrangements for Nagorno
Karabakh would allow for interaction with providers of international
assistance.² What does this mean?

OSKANIAN: This is only one element of a much more detailed section in the
actual negotiating text which addresses interim status for Nagorno Karabakh.
We think the co-chairs have emphasized international engagement, because
that¹s a major problem for the people of Nagorno Karabakh. Their current,
unrecognized, de-facto status, has not allowed them to benefit from the
generosity of international organizations. In the actual negotiating text,
the provisions address such rights as control over their political and
economic viability and security, upholding their personal privileges and
freedoms, the right to democratically elect officials to govern Nagorno
Karabakh, the authority to effectively legislate and administer the internal
affairs of Nagorno Karabakh.

ARMENPRESS: What is Armenia¹s overall assessment of the content of the
document as it stands today?

OSKANIAN: This is not a perfect document. For anyone. However, there are
enough solid and balanced provisions, with the right trade-offs on the main
issues - status, territories and security - that we are prepared to
continue to negotiate on the basis of these principles. In today¹s context,
Azerbaijan¹s rhetoric about autonomy and desperate calls for militarization
surprise us. We have at hand a real opportunity to resolve all issues,
including the much-maligned issue of refugees. But Azerbaijan must revert to
real situations and real opportunities, rather than illusory maximalist
hopes. Today, we hope that Azerbaijan will realize that we have a chance to
resolve the conflict and achieve a lasting peace.