S.PETERSBURG MEETING OF ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS COULD NOT HAVE CHANGED ANYTHING: EXPERT

ARKA
June 11

YEREVAN, June 11. /ARKA/. The meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani
presidents in Saint Petersburg could not have changed anything,
since there were no pre-requisites to a change, political analyst
Alexander Iskandaryan, Director of the Caucasus Media Institute,
stated at a Yerevan-Baku-Moscow space bridge.

The two presidents met on June 6 in Saint Petersburg, which was their
first meeting as presidents. The main achievement of the meeting is
considered to be the decision to continue the talks within the OSCE
Minsk Group based on the Madrid principles.

Iskandaryan said that the reasons for the Karabakh confrontation
do not lie in Saint Petersburg, Brussels, Paris or Washington. The
expert said no regional developments are strong enough to change the
format of relations between the conflicting sides.

According to Iskandaryan, the balance of forces in the region rules
out any attempts for compromise.

"I do not only mean the military balance, but also the geographic
location, historical balance of the recent ten years, the balance of
various outside forces, such as lobbies in face of the Diaspora for
Armenia and Turkey for Azerbaijan," he said.

Iskandaryan said if not for he international community, Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Karabakh would find themselves in a can and there
would be no negotiations.

"The sides are trying to continue the war, or the fight or the conflict
using other means, from lobbying to economic blockades. Negotiations
are part or a subsystem of this conflict.

Armenians do not agree with the compromises they should suggest if
they want Azerbaijan to accept them, and Azerbaijan does not want to
do compromises acceptable for Armenia," the expert said.

Autonomy is the most Azerbaijan suggests today, which would mean
getting back to what we had twenty years ago. Armenia is trying to
fix a status quo.

"Hence, the negotiation process turns to either a competition and
exchange of accusations or an imitation. They exert pressure on us,
and we - Armenians and Azerbaijanis, resist the process from within
the region," Iskandaryan said.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started in 1988 when Nagorno-Karabakh
with dominantly Armenian population declared its withdrawal from
Azerbaijan. On December 10, 1991, the Karabakhi people voted for full
independence from Azerbaijan in a referendum attended by a number of
international observers.

Large-scale military operations followed in which Azerbaijan lost
control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions.

On May 12, 1994, a ceasefire agreement was signed putting an end to
the military operations in which 25,000-30,000 people were killed
and about one million people were forced to leave their homes.

Since 1992, peaceful settlement talks have been held under the auspices
of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by the USA, Russia and France.