May 01, 2007


Recently, Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov (see photo) has made a series of optimistic statements regarding an impending settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh question.

According to Mammadyarov, a basis for a negotiated settlement has been reached in principle by both Azerbaijan and Armenia. The broad outlines of the understanding is a phased withdrawal of Armenian troops from the "occupied territories" surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh proper, the deployment of peace-keeping troops and the eventual return of displaced Azeris and others.

The Azeri Foreign Minister also stated that the best Nagorno-Karabakh could hope for is a high-level of autonomy within the framework of Azerbaijan proper.

This would appear to contradict statements made by Armenia's Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian, who, while during a recent workingtrip to Austrai, commented that the issue of the Lachin Corridor has not been discussed as yet during the negotiations. If correct, this would seem to be a major unresolved issue in the talks that Mamadyarov seems to have neglected in his optimistic analysis of the talks.

What Oskanian did say however is that, "This corridor is a guarantee of free and unhampered communication between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. But it must be viewed as part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic."
Someone else who has commented on the state of negotiations between the opposing sides in the conflict is Matthew Bryza, a United States Assistant Secretary of State and co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. In a recent interview given to the Voice of America after the recent round of talks Bryza made the following comments...

These principles will be the formal essence of agreement. We hope if the presidents reach an agreement on the basic principles soon, it will be followed by intensive stage of negotiations when the final peace treaty will be debated. In other words, basic principles are the main terms of these negotiations. These main principles envisage withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the five regions adjacent to Nagorno Karabakh, returning them to Azerbaijan, deploying peacekeepers and bringing IDPs back to their original places. The negotiations on the conditions of releasing of Kalbajar and Lachin still continue. We are close to the agreement on this issue. The principles also cover providing a corridor uniting Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia that will be used for trade and civil purposes. Following this, the status of Nagorno Karabakh will be determined by negotiations and referendum.

It must be remembered that the Azeri Foreign Minister has been known to make such optimistic observations of the negotiations process in the past, which have been proven to be unfounded. This time it would appear that there might be some substance to his claims. But with Armenia embroiled in a heated parliamentary election campaign and a presidential election in Nagorno-Karabakh scheduled for this July, one might have some reason to doubt such claims. Only time will tell.


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