AZERI PAPER SAYS KARABAKH LOW PRIORITY FOR US LEADER

Yeni Musavat, Baku
1 May 06

Text of Elsad Pasasoy report by the Azerbaijani newspaper Yeni Musavat
on 1 May headlined "Bush has forgotten about Karabakh" and subheaded
"Rasim Musabayov says that a peace deal may be signed at a G-8 summit"

The official publicity in the run-up to [Azerbaijani President]
Ilham Aliyev's visit to the USA stressed that the visit was mainly
related to the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. However, George Bush did
not mention the loss of a fifth of Azerbaijani territories at a news
briefing although he indicated Iran, energy and democracy among the
issues discussed. The leader of the super power, who mourned over
the fabricated "genocide" of the Armenians several days before that
meeting, could have at least touched on the Karabakh problem.

One should not think that Bush has forgotten about the Karabakh
problem. Making a special reference to the wedding of Aliyev's daughter
and wishing happiness to the bride and groom, the US president did
not speak about the number one problem of Azerbaijan, which he sees
as a friendly country.

Political analyst Rasim Musabayov has no doubts that Aliyev informed
Bush of the Karabakh conflict though the latter did not talk about
Karabakh. The expert believes that Azerbaijan's energy importance and
Iran are priorities for the USA, while the theme of Karabakh is also
a big issue.

"Bush spoke about the issues that are important to the USA,"
Musabayov said.

Musabayov stressed that as Azerbaijan's position on energy projects
and Iran is important to the White House, it is natural for Baku to
request Washington to provide support for its number one problem -
the Karabakh conflict in return.

"I think Ilham Aliyev asked for US support in the Karabakh issue,"
he said.

Aliyev himself admitted earlier that the USA was putting pressure on
him in connection with the Karabakh issue. Can we expect this pressure
to fall after the visit? Musabayov recalled that the Armenian press is
also writing about pressure on [Armenian President Robert] Kocharyan.

"The Armenians want to retain control of [Azerbaijani districts of]
Kalbacar and Lacin together with Nagornyy Karabakh in order to legalize
their occupation at least temporarily. I think they will not manage
to do so. In any case, they understand in America that Azerbaijan
will not sign a defeatist peace deal."

In the political analyst's opinion, Washington understands that
Azerbaijan will spend the money it has gained to strengthen its army
some day and start liberating its lands. Economically weak Armenia
is incapable of maintaining the status quo.

"Then, the USA or Russia would have to cover all the expenses of
the Armenian army. I do not think that they want this. In this case,
they must either bring Armenia to reason or fight Azerbaijan instead
of its enemy."

As for the reports saying that Aliyev and Kocharyan will meet in June
after the Washington tour, Musabayov does not think that any serious
deal will be signed.

"It is true that [Azerbaijani Foreign Minister] Elmar Mammadyarov
sounds optimistic. As far as I know, Kocharyan will be called to the
USA after Aliyev. Yerevan's use against Iran cannot be in question
in view of the presence of Russian military bases in Armenia and its
membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. By inviting
Kocharyan to visit, Washington may want to get him out of isolation and
get rid of [the Armenian] lobby's pressure. But Bush does not need the
Armenian lobby's support very much because he will not be re-elected. I
think they [the USA] may want to bring Armenia to reason. It can
be felt that the State Department is more involved in this issue
rather than the White House. First, the issue was discussed at the
meeting between Mammadyarov and [Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan]
Oskanyan. Then they talked to Aliyev, while Oskanyan ran to Moscow
and Karabakh to have talks. The heads of states will meet again if
they manage to explain the existing situation to Kocharyan. If the
two are close to sign a deal, they may be called to the summit of
the G-8 in St Petersburg to sign a document."