DECLASSIFIED KARABAKH
by Arkady Dubnov
Translated by Pavel Pushkin

Source: Vremya Novostei, June 29, 2006, p. 5
Agency WPS
DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia)
July 3, 2006 Monday

BITTER POLEMIC RESTARTED BETWEEN BAKU AND YEREVAN WITH REGARD TO
RESOLVING THE NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT; For three days Baku and
Yerevan have been officially continuing the restarted bitter polemic
related to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. An interview of new
American co-chair of the Minsk group of the OSCE for Nagorno-Karabakh
Matthew Brize (two other co-chairs represent Russia and France) served
as a pretext. Brize released this interview after a report about the
course of the negotiation process between the presidents of Armenia and
Azerbaijan released by co-chairs of the Minsk group at a meeting of
the permanent council of the OSCE in Vienna on June 22. The American
diplomat disclosed some details of the framework agreement proposed
by the Minsk group to the parties of the conflict for the first time.

For three days, Baku and Yerevan have been officially continuing the
restarted bitter polemic related to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. An interview of new American co-chair of the Minsk group
of the OSCE for Nagorno-Karabakh Matthew Brize (two other co-chairs
represent Russia and France) served as a pretext. Brize released
this interview after a report about the course of the negotiation
process between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan released by
co-chairs of the Minsk group at a meeting of the permanent council
of the OSCE in Vienna on June 22. The American diplomat disclosed
some details of the framework agreement proposed by the Minsk group
to the parties of the conflict for the first time.

According to Matthew Brize, Baku and Yerevan are currently "discussing
the clauses of the agreement according to which Armenian armed forces
should leave the territory of Azerbaijan." This document reflected
the issues of deployment of the peacekeeping forces in the conflict
zone and international economic aid to Nagorno-Karabakh. In the final
stage, it is planned to organize a referendum about the future status
of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian co-chair of the Minsk group of the OSCE
Yury Merzlyakov reported yesterday that the statement of his American
colleague was coordinated with the other co-chairs and represented
their common evaluation of the current stage of negotiations.

Yerevan was the first to react to the interview of Brize. The Armenian
Foreign Ministry announced that principles of the conflict regulation
were disclosed in the interview only "partially" and the interview
did not touch on the problem of a corridor between Armenia and
Nagorno-Karabakh and the interim status of Nagorno-Karabakh before
organization of the referendum. Yerevan emphasizes that "for the
first time co-chairs of the Minsk group state that the problem of
the status of Nagorno-Karabakh can be solved through a referendum."

The disputes that exist in the negotiation process do not deal with
the referendum and the presidents have already approved this issue.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry added, "The disputes deal with the
schedule for liquidation of consequences of the armed conflict."

Yerevan calls the principles of regulation proposed by the Minsk group
"a serious basis for continuation of negotiations with Azerbaijan"
and confirms readiness to continue them. Armenia could not do without
the familiar notes of belligerence. Azerbaijan was reminded that
"regardless of the size of its military budget it will never manage
to force the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to give up the right for
freedom and independence."

The response from Baku followed immediately. The Azerbaijani Foreign
Ministry called the statement of Yerevan "a traditional attempt at
deliberate distortion of the course of the negotiation process"
and "speculations." The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan added,
"Determination of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is impossible in
circumstances of continuing occupation and ethnic purge and implies
liberation of the occupied territories and demilitarization of the
entire conflict zone, which in case of international guarantees of
security will create conditions for return of the forcefully expelled
Azerbaijani population."

Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev added fuel to the fire.

Yesterday, he announced, "Degree of the combat readiness of the armed
forces of Azerbaijan allows liberation of our land by a military way.

Only time is needed for this and Armenians are afraid of war." Abiyev
accused of the interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict some "powerful
world powers that wish to retain Azerbaijan in the sphere of their
influence." Azerbaijani news agency Day.az quoted Abiyev as saying,
"When they see our force they will give up their intention and we
will prove this." Very few observers doubt that this hint is addressed
to Russia.

Neither of the parties of the conflict points at the main stepping
stone of the negotiations. According to informed sources close
to negotiations, in the first stage Armenia is prepared to let
Azerbaijani refugees and administration return to the occupied
Kelbadzhar District. Armenia is prepared to make this concession under
condition that Baku names an acceptable date for the referendum in
Nagorno-Karabakh at least in a few years. However, Baku refuses to do
this. The same sources presume that conversations about a possible
meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in the framework of
the G8 summit in St. Petersburg at which both Baku and Yerevan hint
are unfounded. They add, "A new meeting of Aliyev and Kocharjan is
hardly possible earlier than in autumn."

With regard to the unexpected declassification of the course of
negotiations, Allen Deletroz, president of the international crisis
group, remarked that "intermediaries grew tired of negotiations and
took a correct step that would contribute to broad and open national
dialog dedicated to the essence of the problem." According to Deletroz,
"Henceforth Azerbaijanis and Armenians will be able to form their own
opinion about what is on the table of negotiations of there presidents
who have until recently had a private but unsuccessful dialog."