Armenia + 1 more

Kocharian-Aliev Meeting To Mark Turning Point On Karabakh?

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From RFE/RL Caucasus Report 14 January 2000, Volume 3, Number 2
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told a press conference in Yerevan on 13 January that the upcoming meeting in Moscow between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will bring more certainty into the future of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. "It will become clear in Moscow whether the situation will remain as it is now or it will be possible to revive the dialogue [between the conflicting parties]," Oskanian said.

Robert Kocharian and Heidar Aliev are scheduled to meet in Moscow on 25 January on the sidelines of a Commonwealth of Independent States summit. A series of face-to-face talks between the two leaders last year fueled optimism about an imminent settlement of the Karabakh dispute.

"The past year saw major progress on the issue. For the first time, Azerbaijan accepted the necessity to settle the conflict by mutual compromise, and the international community realized the significance of resuming negotiations without preconditions," Oskanian said. He acknowledged that the 27 October Armenian parliament shootings "slowed" the peace process.

Oskanian said Yerevan continues to support the most recent peace plan on Karabakh put forward by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Azerbaijan rejected that plan, which proposed it form a loose "common state" with the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Visiting the region last month, Russian, U.S. and French mediators co-chairing the Minsk Group indicated that may revise the peace proposals to make them acceptable to Azerbaijan. But Oskanian said no new proposals have yet been received from the co-chairs.

Oskanian further acknowledged that the idea of an exchange of territories between Armenia and Azerbaijan was floated by mediators last year as a way of establishing a lasting peace in the region. He gave no details, however. Armenian press reports spoke late last year of a proposed deal whereby Baku would give up de-jure sovereignty over Karabakh in exchange for a land corridor linking its Nakhichevan exclave with Azerbaijan proper. (Hrach Melkumian)

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