AZERI ANALYST HITS OUT AT COUNCIL OF EUROPE REPORTER'S "DUAL" STATEMENT

Yeni Musavat, Baku
29 Jan 05


An Azeri political analyst has said that the rapporteur of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Nagornyy Karabakh
is performing a balancing act between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In
remarks to opposition daily Yeni Musavat, Rasim Musabayov said that
David Atkinson is using "a dual language of traditional European
policy in order to preserve balance". Musabayov also called on
Azerbaijan to pursue a "flexible" policy on Nagornyy Karabakh and not
to dramatize the situation. The following is the text of Elsad
Pasasoy's report by the Azerbaijani newspaper Yeni Musavat on 29
January headlined "Atkinson's 'dual language' statement" and subheaded
"Rasim Musabayov: 'It is not a tragedy to start negotiations with
Karabakh Armenians'"; subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Apart from commendable points in the resolution of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), there are some provisions
that could upset Azerbaijan. These are the recognition of the right of
Armenians in Nagornyy Karabakh to self-determination and the
recommendation that Azerbaijan "should start negotiations without any
conditions" with them.

No self-determination for Karabakh

Guided by these factors, Armenia's official propaganda tells its
people not to worry and claims that the passed resolution will not be
that bad for Yerevan and Karabakh's Armenians. Some statements by the
PACE rapporteur on Nagornyy Karabakh, David Atkinson, alleviate
Azerbaijani concerns, but, on the other hand, the tip of the iceberg
can be seen in an issue threatening our country. Thus, Atkinson's
statement that "the principle of 'the right of nations to
self-determination' cannot be applied to the Karabakh issue" was a
kind of cold shower in winter for those who claim (setting up) the
"Nagornyy Karabakh Republic". The rapporteur stressed that any changes
to borders can be possible with the mutual consent of the parties. He
also added that Azerbaijan will never agree to the independence of
Nagornyy Karabakh. He stressed that "the CE and other international
organizations cannot recognize the independence of Nagornyy
Karabakh. Therefore, the right of nations to self-determination cannot
be applied to Karabakh."

"Preserving balance"

However, the second part of Atkinson's statement gives grounds for
concern. "We are expecting the Azerbaijani government to start
establishing contacts with representatives of Nagornyy Karabakh and
discussing the problem with them following the adoption of the
resolution."

As may be seen, the officials are hastily drawing official Baku,
without giving it any chance to enjoy the PACE resolution, in
negotiations with the regime they called "separatist".

Political analyst Rasim Musabayov believes that Atkinson is speaking
in a dual language of traditional European policy in order to preserve
balance.

"On the one hand, he says he does not recognize the right of
(Karabakh) Armenians to self-determination, but on the other hand he
calls on Azerbaijan to negotiate with Karabakh's Armenians. But, the
Karabakh Armenians want independence. What is there to discuss with
them in this case?"

"Frame"

Yet, the political analyst says it is necessary to note an innovation
in the resolution.

"They had been saying for many years to "go and negotiate with
Karabakh's Armenians" and that "we support Azerbaijan's territorial
integrity including Karabakh". But they had been trying not to call
Armenia an occupier and the Karabakh regime separatist. Now they are
saying that and it is positive factor".

This assessment shows the Armenians a framework. "They want to say
that this is the way to peace. Otherwise, you would not be able to go
beyond the framework. Because Azerbaijan will never recognize your
independence and you are exposing your people to difficulties by
prolonging time."

"No tragedy"

The expert does not see the condition for Azerbaijan to negotiate with
Karabakh's Armenians as a tragedy.

"In fact, we have never said that we do not want to negotiate with
Karabakh's Armenians. We have said that we want to talk about the
status, but only after the liberation of the occupied territories. I
do not think it is a tragedy to have contacts on any level with
them. It is not imperative that (Azerbaijani President) Ilham Aliyev
negotiates with (leader of Karabakh separatists) Arkadiy Gukasyan
face-to-face. The negotiations can be held on a lower level. We can
sit and listen to the Armenians".

No negotiations between communities

Musabayov says there is no need for holding negotiations between the
Azerbaijani and Armenian communities (of Nagornyy Karabakh).

"The Armenians in Karabakh have problems not with the Azerbaijani
community, but with the Azerbaijani government. I do not believe that
any talks with Karabakh's Armenians could yield results. If Kocharyan,
a person who has done all this and controls the occupied territories,
is the president of Armenia, it is no use expecting anything from
Karabakh's Armenians. We have been negotiating with the Armenians for
10 years and we cannot start negotiations with Karabakh's Armenians
now. But we should not be afraid of any contacts. It does not mean
recognizing Karabakh as a party to negotiations."

Non-constructive party

He also touched on the experience of neighbouring countries. "The
Georgian government is negotiating with the unrecognized Abkhaz and
Ossetian leaders. The Moldovan president opts for negotiations with
the concocted structure in Dniester (region of Moldova). We must not
dramatize the situation. We need to pursue quite a flexible policy
here. We must take steps for the opposite party to be seen as wrong
and non-constructive. In the end, either the non-constructive party
will came under pressure, or the international community will
understand that we have taken all steps, but the Armenians have not
come to common sense."

In that case, there will not be a serious obstacle to Azerbaijan
resorting to a military way (of resolving the conflict), he said.