Thursday, 12 June 2008

Karabagh News

Aliev, Sarkisian Hold `Constructive' Talks
By Emil Danielyan and Gevorg Stamboltsian in Prague

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan appeared to have rekindled
hopes for a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with what
officials described as `constructive' talks held in the Russian city of
Saint-Petersburg on Friday.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and his recently elected Armenian
counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, met for the first time on the sidelines of
a summit of former Soviet states. International mediators hoped that
they will kick-start the Karabakh peace process which stalled following
the recent presidential election in Armenia.

The two leaders started and ended the talks in the presence of their
foreign ministers and the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing
the OSCE Minsk Group. According to Sarkisian's office, the talks took
place in a tête-à -tête format for one hour. It said Foreign Ministers
Eduard Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov met separately both before and
after the presidents' meeting.

`The Armenian side finds constructive the results of the first
Sarkisian-Aliev meeting held in Saint-Petersburg,' the Armenian
president's press office said in a statement. It said the two leaders
presented their views on how to resolve the conflict and instructed
their ministers to continue the negotiation process mediated by the
Minsk Group co-chairs.

According to the statement, it was also agreed that the co-chairs will
visit Armenia and Azerbaijan again by the end of this month in an effort
to further narrow the parties' differences over a framework peace accord
put forward by the mediators last November.

Both Nalbandian and Mammadyarov said the talks were `constructive' and
`positive' as they spoke with journalists in Saint-Petersburg. The Minsk
Group's U.S. co-chair, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew
Bryza, also appeared to be satisfied with the meeting.

`Judging from what the presidents have just told us, the mood was
positive and constructive,' Bryza told RFE/RL by phone. `The two
presidents decided to continue the process within the framework of the
Minsk Group and the proposals which we made in Madrid [in November

Bryza did not rule out the possibility of another Aliev-Sarkisian
encounter in the coming months. `It depends on how much progress the
foreign ministers will make with the help of the co-chairs,' he said.

by Vladimir Akopjanov
June 4, 2008 Wednesday

the Kazabakh settlement is so complicated that the status quo appears
to be the best possible solution.

The peoples of Azerbaijan and Karabakh owe peace these last decade
to the truce, and even a lean peace is better than a fat victory.

This peace solved the problem but only to a certain extent. The
problem is, no "ultimate solution" at this point will cope with the
problem at hand. How long the government of the side that goes for
a compromise will last is anybody's guess, but probably not too long.

And what is this "ultimate solution"? As far as the population
of Nagorno-Karabakh is concerned, it implies the recognition of
sovereignty within the existing borders. On the other hand, even that
does not solve the problem in its entirety because the Azerbaijani
regular army controls part of the Karabakh territory including the
former Shaumjan district.

Azerbaijan in its turn insists on the restoration of its territorial
integrity. What is to be done about the Armenian population is not
something anybody knows. The Azerbaijani legislation utterly ignores
ethnic minorities and their collective rights. The Lezgines, Tats,
Talyshs, Avarians, Kurds, Udins, and others are denied legal guarantees
of ethnic self-expression. The attempt to establish the Talysh-Mugan
Republic within Azerbaijan in 1993 was resolutely crushed down - even
though it had never even occurred to the would-be ethnic autonomy to
aspire for cessation.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the meantime is developing into a
democracy born in a war, one relying on its own resources. Recognition
by the international community or its lack changes nothing in terms
of the democratic regime or the completeness of sovereignty.

In the meantime, lack of recognition by the international community has
its disadvantages. First and foremost, the matter concerns the absence
of human rights and freedoms monitoring by international organizations
or the possibility of legitimate recrimination for human rights
abuses. This state of affairs creates the appearance of myths. There
are lots of them that surround the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Myth One. "Azerbaijan was defeated in the war by the Russians." The
Azerbaijani authorities refuse to acknowledge defeat or admit what
the war was about and against whom.

Myth Two. When Republic of Armenia sent its standing army to assist
Karabakh separatists and criminals, Nagorno-Karabakh was occupied
and absorbed into the Republic of Armenia as a region. Two Armenian
states exist nowadays plus diasporas abroad.

The problem is, non-Armenians perceive no difference between the
Republic of Armenia and Armenia which is a mistake. The Republic of
Armenia is part of Armenia, just like the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,
West Armenia, or Kilikia. What troops there are in the Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic are Armenian armed forces of sovereign Nagorno-Karabakh,
not of the Republic of Armenia.

Myth Three deals with "Christianity's last bulwark". Attempts to
present the Karabakh conflict as a war between Christianity and Islam
are only made by ignorant reporters. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
and Azerbaijan are secular states.

Myth Four. All refugees are allegedly in Azerbaijan. Baku never
misses a chance to demand that refugees from Karabakh are permitted
to go home. Granted that the demand is fair, it really should be
mutual. Over 300,000 Armenians fled Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad but
nobody seems to care...

By and large, the problem of conflict settlement appears to complicated
that the existing state of affairs with lean peace seems to be
the best solution. Of course, the Armenian side would like to see
Nagorno-Karabakh recognized by the international community but it
may have its drawbacks. Azerbaijan is not going to recognize the
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as a sovereign state. The Azerbaijanis
will take it as a gross moral trauma even capable of creating a
political crisis in the country. Extremist revenge-mongers usually
ascend to power in a situation like this and that may result in
resumed hostilities.

The scenario promoted by Baku makes the development of peaceful
relations unlikely. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as a sovereign state
is not bound by the commitments taken by the Armenian side. Denying
Stepanakert recognition, Azerbaijan insists on discussing the matter
with Armenia. Yerevan in its turn may represent the sisterly nation of
Nagorno-Karabakh but cannot presume to solve the matter of its status.

What will the Karabakh population end up with? Another Nakhichevan
without the Armenian population. What does Azerbaijan stand to
gain? A territory with the Armenian population, well armed and
knowing the terrain. The Milli Mejlis will have to pass a law on
ethnic minorities. Is Azerbaijan ready for changes of this magnitude?

The Baroness Cox
House of Lords
London SW1 OAP
June 9, 2008
Letters to the Editor
The Editor,

Your article on 'the Black Hole' of Nagorno Karabakh by Alexandros Petersen
(June 7) contains so many false allegations and untruths that it would be
laughable if the implications were not so serious.
I was in Nagorno Karabakh last week and I can personally testify to the
ridiculous nature of the claims that 'Karabakh is a black hole that attracts arms,
drug and human trafficking, money laundering and organised crime. Chances
are that heroin on London's streets, illegal weapons in the Paris banlieue, and
the underage prostitutes in Berlin either came through a conflict zone such as
Karabakh , or were trafficked by a network that uses the area to facilitate its
These allegations are outrageous. The Armenians in Karabakh had to defend
their land against well-documented attempted ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan
in a bitter war from 1991-1994, During that war, Islamist terrorists fought on the
side of Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Karabakh, who are now rebuilding
their shattered lives and land with laudable commitment to democratic principles
(their elections have been declared free and fair by independent respected
international observers).
My charitable organisation supports a Rehabilitation Centre for people with
disabilities which has become recognised by many professional visitors as a
Centre of Excellence, disseminating innovative good practice throughout the
South Caucasus. Over the years, I have encouraged as many as a thousand
people to visit this historic land; we have travelled widely throughout the small
region and every visitor has been inspired by the graciousness, openness and
warm hospitality of the people. All would join me in signing this letter of rebuttal
of the outrageously absurd and misleading allegations in your article.

Yours faithfully,
Caroline (The Baroness) Cox.
House of Lords.


June 4 2008

Azerbaijan's bellicose rhetoric is a sort of a blackmail, which may
undermine the talks on the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict,
said Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan.

"I do not understand why Azerbaijani leadership makes such
statements. To answer to any of such bellicose statements means
to worsen the situation before the important meetings of the two
presidents on June 6, said Nalbandyan during the press conference on
Monday, commenting on the previously made statement of Azerbaijani
Defense Minister.

"We initiate talks with the intention to settle the conflict, being
aware that this is necessary for the interests of both Armenian and
Azerbaijani people", said the Armenian Foreign Minister.

According to Nalbandyan, holding talks on the resolution of Nagorno
Karabakh conflict means suspension of political propaganda. The
Minister noted that the conflict settlement is impossible with such
bellicose propaganda in neighbor Azerbaijan.

Nalbandyan reminded the situation of 2001, when following the talks
in Ki-West the countries were ready to the conflict settlement.

"But this did not occur as Azerbaijan declared that its population
is not ready to the conflict settlement", noted the minister.

He also drew journalist's attention to the fact that 29% of
Azerbaijanis support the forced resolution of the conflict, in line
with public polls and 82% of the population negatively assess the
activity of the OSCE Minsk Group.

"This figure is unclear to me. I do not know any other country, even
being in a state of war, where the percentage of people supporting
forced resolution of the conflict is so high and it is absurd to
blame the countries, ready to assist in the conflict resolution",
said Nalbandyan.
Trend News Agency
June 5 2008

UK, London, 5 June / Trend News corr G. Ahmadova/The School of Oriental
and African Studies (SOAS) of the London University is hosting an
exhibition ' Azerbaijan: Past, Present and Future', organized by
the UK-based Odlar Yurdu organization. The exhibition is assisted by
the Azerbaijani Embassy in London. Representatives of the diplomatic
corpse, students and professors, as well as representatives of the
research centres and scientific circles of the UK, participated in
the opening ceremony.

Stands with information and photos about the history, culture, art and
economy of Azerbaijan are displayed at the exhibition.
Special stands
devoted to the Armenian occupation and history of Nagorno-Karabakh,
catalogues with different information on the subject are also

A special video film about Azerbaijan was demonstrated during the
opening ceremony. Azerbaijani Ambassador to UK, Fakhraddin Gurbanov,
delivered a speech. He spoke about Azerbaijani history, culture,
literature and current political course. He noted that the exhibition
would play an invaluable role to popularize the truth about Azerbaijan
amongst the western community.

The exhibition will last for a month. That is the first event held
in such a prestigious high school as SOAS.


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