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BAKU: Aliyev: Azerbaijan, Armenia only parties to conflict

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  • BAKU: Aliyev: Azerbaijan, Armenia only parties to conflict

    AzerNews Weekly, Azerbaijan
    Nov 26 2008

    Aliyev: Azerbaijan, Armenia only parties to conflict
    26-11-2008 04:01:47

    Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev described as a positive step the
    signing of a declaration on the Upper (Nagorno) Garabagh conflict with
    the Armenian and Russian leaders in Moscow on November 2.
    Aliyev emphasized that the document accurately sets out the steps
    needed to reach a settlement to the dispute.
    "These are the norms and principles of international law, and the
    resolutions and decisions adopted in this framework. This declaration,
    itself, is an important political document that determines ways of
    settlement referring to the very decisions of international
    organizations," Aliyev said while hosting participants of the
    international roundtable entitled "Azerbaijan in the 21st century -
    the strategy of success," held in Baku last week.
    He noted that the declaration cites guarantees that are to be provided
    during the various stages in resolving the conflict. This envisions a
    stage-by-stage settlement process, which Azerbaijan has always
    insisted upon.
    "Certainly, it is also an important factor that Armenia and
    Azerbaijan, which signed the declaration, are parties to the
    conflict. There are no other parties to this conflict. This has always
    been obvious and now this has been confirmed by the Armenian leader`s
    The self-proclaimed Upper Garabagh republic is seeking participation
    in peace talks as a party, a claim repeatedly dismissed by Baku as a
    blatant contradiction to international law. Azerbaijani officials
    have, on many occasions, made it clear that preserving the country`s
    territorial integrity is mandatory in reaching a solution to the
    Garabagh problem.
    The declaration, signed following the Russia-brokered November
    meeting, urges further OSCE-mediated dialog between the Azerbaijani
    and Armenian governments. The sides were also urged to continue in
    joint efforts to bolster stability in the South Caucasus through a
    political settlement of the conflict based upon the principles of
    international law and earlier documents. It is the first time in
    nearly 15 years that such a document has been signed.
    Nonetheless, the Azerbaijani leader said adopting the declaration was
    not, in itself, enough to reach a solution to the long-standing
    Garabagh dispute.
    "In order to reach the correct decisions, such as to withdraw from the
    territories that never belonged, do not and will never belong to
    Armenia, to end the occupation, and to pursue a policy consistent with
    international norms, and, simply, with international rules of conduct,
    first of all, political will of the Armenian side is necessary. Then
    it would be possible to achieve peace in the Caucasus much sooner."
    Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict for over a
    decade. Peace talks began in 1994 after a lengthy war that ended with
    the signing of a cease-fire but have brought few tangible
    results. Armenia continues to occupy Upper Garabagh and seven other
    Azerbaijani districts in defiance of international law.
    Vasiliy Istratov, the Russian Ambassador in Baku, did not rule out the
    self-styled republic`s joining peace talks in the future. He said that
    although the Moscow declaration contains no relevant clauses, "it does
    not say that this will never happen, either."
    Commenting on Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian`s recent statement to
    that end, Istratov told reporters that the regime`s participation "was
    an affair of the future."
    The ambassador noted that the Moscow declaration touched on
    all-important issues regarding ending the conflict.
    "It outlines ways of settling the conflict. Azerbaijan and Armenia are
    cited in the document as parties in negotiations, and the sides
    co-signed this. As for Sarkisian`s statement, it should be merely
    treated as such as it has no legal force."

    Garabagh status
    Matthew Bryza, the US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group (MG) brokering
    the peace process, has said holding a referendum to determine the
    status of Upper Garabagh was on the negotiating table.
    "Holding a referendum in the future, as well as developing a mechanism
    for this process and its participants, is a subject of talks," Bryza
    told Radio Liberty`s Russian bureau.
    According to Bryza, the fact that Russia was the only MG co-chairing
    state that co-signed the November 2 declaration demonstrates that
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had sought to bolster his country`s
    influence in the settlement of conflicts in the turbulent South
    Caucasus region.
    Asked whether the Armenian president was facing US pressure regarding
    the Garabagh settlement, Bryza said that "Armenians, themselves,
    should answer that question."