Azeri presidential aide says Karabakh talks in Astana might be "positive"

Yeni Azarbaycan, Baku
2 Sep 04

Some political analysts believe that significant steps are going to be
taken to settle the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict during the Azerbaijani,
Russian and Armenian presidents' meeting set for mid-September
in [Kazakh capital] Astana. The Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign
ministers met in Prague several days ago and the sides are said to meet
again in New York with the participation of Turkish Foreign Minister
Abdullah Gul. The Azerbaijani foreign minister said after the meeting
that he had strongly protested the latest activities of the Karabakh
separatists during the meeting with his Armenian counterpart and said
that these activities could negatively influence the peace talks in
the future.

Our interview with the head of the foreign relations department at the
presidential administration, Novruz Mammadov, covers the major points
in Baku's foreign policy relating to the Nagornyy Karabakh settlement.

[Passage omitted: Mammadov says no changes in Azerbaijan's foreign
policy]

[Correspondent] Novruz muallim [mode of address], the Azerbaijani
public has high hopes for the forthcoming Astana meeting of the
presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia. Some people even say
that official Baku may reconsider continuing the talks if the meeting
yields no results.

[Mammadov] First, I do not think that Azerbaijan will come up with the
initiative to withdraw from the talks if the Astana meeting fails to
produce any serious results. But theoretically, this option is always
there. Great hopes are indeed pinned on the Astana meeting. While
analyzing the recent developments, we can see that the processes in
this direction are intensifying. The Azerbaijani president will meet
his French counterpart Jacques Chirac again shortly. Doubtless the
Nagornyy Karabakh problem will be one of the issues topping the agenda
of this meeting, too. I mean, while systematizing all these processes,
one can conclude that the activities in this direction have intensified
to a large extend. Against the background of these happenings, it is
worth expecting positive results from the Astana meeting.

[Correspondent] Can Moscow activity in this direction bring something
new to the settlement on the whole?

[Mammadov] I can assure you that Russia's position now is fairer
than it used to be several years ago. We are sure that if the Russian
Federation takes decisive steps to settle the conflict, we can achieve
serious changes. I regret that Russia is not yet doing so. But we
think that we will achieve some position changes in Astana.

[Passage omitted: Mammadov says Turkey's involvement in the peace
process might be fruitful; on Europe's stance on Karabakh]