Monday, 27 July 2009

Karabagh News‏

Reuters, UKJuly 19 2009Armenia, Azerbaijan still apart on KarabakhSun Jul 19, 2009 8:13am EDT* Armenia hails talks, but Azeris see no progress* Leaders to meet again in autumn, says ArmeniaBy Hasmik Mkrtchyan and Afet MehtiyevaYEREVAN/BAKU, July 19 (Reuters) - The presidents of Armenia andAzerbaijan plan to meet again this autumn after talks in Moscow overNagorno-Karabakh which the Azeri side said were unproductive,officials said on Sunday.Armenia's Serzh Sarksyan and Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev met Kremlinchief Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday in a bid to resolve the Karabakhdispute, one of the so-called 'frozen conflicts' left by the SovietUnion's 1991 collapse."Statements by officials made after the meeting indicate that noprogress on principle issues has been made," Panakh Huseinov, fromAzerbaijan's security and defence parliamentary committee and anopposition member, told Reuters.Armenia hailed the talks as "constructive" and its foreign ministrysaid the leaders would meet again in autumn. Armenian state TV said itwill be in October.Nagorno-Karabakh, a mainly ethnic Armenian Christian enclave insideAzeri borders, declared independence in 1991 with support from Armeniaand fought Muslim Azerbaijan in a war that killed some 35,000 peoplebefore a shaky ceasefire was signed in 1994.No country has recognised Karabakh's independence.The dispute led to Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey closing theirborders with Armenia and remains one of the biggest threats tostability in the South Caucasus, a key route for oil and gas suppliesfrom the Caspian region to Europe.Azerbaijan's Huseinov said that his country believes "real steps onelimination of occupation" need to be made before any kind ofagreement is signed.Late on Friday, Sarkysan's press office issued a statement saying histalks with Aliyev earlier that day were held "in a constructivespirit" and that the two sides will continue negotiations aimed at a"peaceful settlement".Efforts by international mediators under the auspices of theOrganisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), focused onfinding a temporary solution to the problem including strong autonomyfor Karabakh, have so far led nowhere.Russia exerts strong leverage on both ex-Soviet states, and expertssay mediation in Karabakh could consolidate Russia's strong role inthe Southern Caucasus region.The Kremlin's chief foreign policy aide, Sergei Prikhodko, whoco-chairs the Minsk Group, which is mandated to act as anintermediary, was quoted by Interfax on Saturday as saying that thelengthy talks were "very constructive".(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman in Moscow; Editing by RichardBalmforth)Agence France Presse, FranceJuly 17, 2009 Friday 3:08 PM GMT Armenia, Azerbaijan in new peace talks on enclaveAnna SmolchenkoMOSCOW, July 17 2009The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents met here Friday in the latestMoscow-mediated attempt to end a long-simmering dispute over aseparatist enclave where there was a war in the 1990s.Following their face-to-face talks Friday afternoon, Armenian leaderSerzh Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev were tomeet with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday.Armenian state-run television quoted Sarkisian as saying earlier that"no document will be signed" in Moscow over the future of theAzerbaijani enclave of Nagorny Karabakh.Keen to burnish its credentials as a powerbroker, Russia has beenmediating talks between the two countries over the enclave, nowcontrolled by ethnic Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan.The three leaders last met in Saint Petersburg in June.Observers praised the two nations' effort to seek compromise but saidthe talks were unlikely to produce any breakthrough."The fact that two sides sat down at the negotiating table defusestension and increases the probability that the conflict may be settledby peaceful means," a senior parliament member from the ruling EniAzerbaijan party Mubariz Gurbanly told AFP."However, one should not expect any tangible result of the meeting asthe Armenian side maintains an unconstructive approach."Azerbaijani political analyst Eldar Namazov said however thepresidents could lay the foundation for longer-term progress, even ifno document was signed."It is a long-term process and in the case any progress is made at theMoscow meeting Friday and Saturday, we can come, by the end of theyear, to a situation when signature of a certain document ispossible."Armenian analyst Alexander Iskandarian, director of the Caucasus mediainstitute said: "I do not expect any changes regarding the Karabakhsettlement" from the talks."The presidents will make another statement that some progress wasmade in the negotiation process."Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian also indicated thatYerevan was not in the mood for compromise on the issue."Armenia will not make any accords without the consent of theKarabakh's people and leadership. Armenia insists that Karabakh mustbe a full member of the negotiation process."At the Group of Eight summit in Italy last week, Russia, France andthe United States issued a statement pledging to continue theirsupport of the peace talks and calling on Aliyev and Sarkisian to ironout their disagreements.Nagorny Karabakh, an enclave of Azerbaijan with a largely ethnicArmenian population, broke free of Baku's control in the early 1990sin a war that killed nearly 30,000 people and forced two million toflee their homes.Shootings between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the region remaincommon despite a 1994 ceasefire.The three-party meeting has been timed to coincide with an informalsummit of ex-Soviet nations in Moscow on Saturday.Agence France Presse, FranceJuly 17, 2009 Friday 3:13 PM GMT In Karabakh, suspicion of peace driveBY: Mariam HarutunianSTEPANAKERT, Azerbaijan, July 17 2009On the streets of Nagorny Karabakh's chief town of Stepanakert, localssay the tense status quo is fine with them and eye big power effortsto resolve the dispute over their enclave only with suspicion."The international community's pressure is enormous," said ArshavirSarkisian, a 68-year-old veteran of the war with Azerbaijan."But Serzh knows the price paid to escape from Azerbaijan's yoke," headded, referring to Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. "I am sure hewill not sign anything that could put our independence in jeopardy."The Armenian president and his counterpart from Azerbaijan, IlhamAliyev, held a preliminary meeting Friday in Moscow ahead of aRussia-brokered meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev scheduled forSaturday.For young people in Nagorny Karabakh, like 21-year old studentVaruzhan Akopian, the war in the late 1980s and early 1990s is only avery dim memory and they say they cannot imagine life being governedfrom Baku."I remember very well our life in a basement, where we would hideduring the bombings," Varuzhan said."The international mediators do not understand that one cannot forceus to accept a fate that foreigners want to impose on us."How do they expect to explain to our generation that we must becomecitizens of the country that hates us?" he added.The three-way meeting between Sarkisian, Aliyev and Medvedev will beonly the latest in a string of efforts over many years to bring an endto another "frozen conflict" that poisons relations between Baku andYerevan today."We hope to reach the finish line to resolve this conflict," said YuriMerzliakov, the co-chair of the so-called Minsk Group comprisingFrance, the United States and Russia that mediates the settlementprocess.Nagorny Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991 amid aconflict that killed as many as 30,000 people and forced two millionto flee their homes.A ceasefire ended large-scale hostilities in 1994 but the dispute isfar from resolved and sporadic shooting incidents continue betweenArmenian and Azerbaijani forces.Many in Karabakh cite Cyprus, the island divided between Turkish andGreek communities, as a precedent they believe supports theirindependence bid."Who is saying today to Turks that they must return lands to Cypriots?Nobody," said Gevorg, a 22-year-old restaurant waiter."Everybody will accept Karabakh's independence" in 15 years."Despite the violence of the conflict, Stepanakert today bears notraces of war.Renovation of buildings and construction of new roads, schools,hospitals and even elegant cafes continues despite the global economiccrisis.Samvel Arutunian, a supermarket owner, recently returned toStepanakert after spending 11 years in Moscow and plans to open moreshops."People are reaping the first fruits of their labour," hesaid. "Business is becoming profitable. Living standards andpurchasing power are rising."Tufenkian Foundation Press Rerlease
Standing Firm in Kashatagh
Just days ago, an OSCE summit called for Nagorno-Karabagh's withdrawal from so-called "occupied territories," including Kashatagh, the province that provides vital links to Armenia. As a direct response to this affront to Karabagh's sovereignty and self-determination, the
Tufenkian Foundation today announced a new initiative on behalf of
Kashatagh (formerly Lachin), restoring and protecting the historic
monuments and cultural artifacts that attest to the region's Armenian
character and background.
"Many people know Kashatagh to be the vital, strategic link between
Karabagh and Armenia," noted Foundation Director Antranig Kasbarian.
"Less known is that the region has Armenian roots historically -- roots
that were torn out via massacre and deportation in 1918-1920. Now
that the region has been liberated, we believe we must emphasize that
Azerbaijan's claims to it are artificial, and cannot enjoy support from the
international community."
To kick off this effort, the Foundation has begun renovating the historic
St. Minas Church (16th century), found in the village of Hak, which traces
its Armenian ancestry to the 11th century. After its Armenian population
was wiped out in a massacre by Azeri forces in October 1918, Hak was
reclaimed by Armenian forces in 1992 and is now subject to an active
resettlement policy by Karabagh authorities. Alongside the church
renovations, the Foundation will also renovate nearby Armenian cemeteries
and will build a new water supply for the village, which currently houses
50 inhabitants.This effort has been made possible by a generous grant from Ms. Virginia
Davies of New York City. Other supporters have also come forward with
offers of assistance, which will be publicized in coming weeks.
For more information on the Tufenkian Foundation's Kashatagh Initiative,
please contact Rick Barry at full list of the Foundation's current work throughout Karabagh is available
at FOOTBALLERS ANGER BAKURegion goes ahead with its own league despite Azerbaijan's objections.By Karine Ohanyan in Stepanakert and Joshqun Eldaroglu in Baku Football officials in Nagorny-Karabakh, a self-declared state in the South
Caucasus, have organised their own tournament despite strong protests
from the government in Azerbaijan.Karabakh, which won de facto independence from Baku in a conflict that
ended with a ceasefire 15 years ago, is ruled by ethnic Armenians and its
football players have previously appeared in Armenia's league. But this year,
for the first time since the war, it has organised it own tournament."The federation is now doing all it can to restore the previous strength of
football in Karabakh," said Artur Apresian, vice-president of Karabakh's
self-proclaimed football federation.The league features nine teams and, after three rounds of matches, was
being led by the team from the capital Stepanakert.But state and football authorities in Azerbaijan, whose sovereignty over
Karabakh is internationally recognised, were furious about the tournament,
saying it had no backing from UEFA or FIFA (the European and world
governing bodies for the sport)."First of all you have to remember that there is no recognised republic
named Nagorny Karabakh," said Elkhan Polukhov, spokesman for the
foreign ministry in Baku. "Therefore international sports organisations cannot recognise some
tournament held there. Presumably, some individual has just decided to
organise this. By doing so, they are breaking the laws of Azerbaijan and
the international football federation."The Azerbaijan football federation said it would complain to the international
football authorities, even though it doubted they would even pay attention to
the new league."They are doing a completely pointless thing. National championships have
to be held under the badge of FIFA or UEFA. I do not believe that the
international football organisations will recognise the results of this
championship, but all the same we will send a protest in connection to this,"
said Ramin Musayev, president of the PML, Azerbaijan's professional football
league.There is a history of football being a cause of confrontation between ethnic
Armenians and Azeris in Azerbaijan. As early as 1987, when the Soviet Union
still existed and Armenians were just starting their agitation to break Karabakh
away from Baku's control, the club side from Kirovabad came to play in
Stepanakert.After Kirovabad lost 3-1, there were mass fights between Armenian and Azeri
fans, and the Soviet government in Moscow forced the Stepanakert side to play
its home games elsewhere in Azerbaijan."They say sport is far from politics, but of course it is not like that. As soon as you
go into the international arena, then politics starts to interfere with sport," Razmik
Hovsepian, head of the Karabakh sports committee, told IWPR. He said sportsmen from Karabakh were already hostages of politics, since they
are forced to represent Armenia if they want to compete in international
competitions. Last year, athletes from Karabakh won 134 medals for Armenia in
various contests around the world.Karabakh's new football federation is trying to rectify the situation, and to find a
way of legally joining the international sport body."We have now set the goal of becoming associate members of UEFA and
playing openly at championships. Apart from this, we know there is a
sub-committee of FIFA which conducts the development of the game in
unrecognised countries. Next year, there will be a championship between
unrecognised countries, and that is around 30 teams," said Apresian.A representative team of Karabakh already saw success when it became the
all-Armenian champion between 2001 and 2007, but it could not play its home
games in Stepanakert because of UEFA's rules. With time passing, therefore,
a whole generation of Karabakh footballers has lost the chance to play before
their own fans."The world must understand that sport exists in Karabakh, independent of it
having a recognised or unrecognised status, and talented sportsmen as well,
and they have the right to fight for the title of best sportsman in the world, even
though they live in a territory that is currently unrecognised," said Rasmik
Hovsepian, head of the sports committee of Karabakh."A sportsman's career is too short, and no one has the moral right to take
away his chance to exhibit himself in the international arena, even if Azerbaijan
does not like the colours of our state flag."Karine Ohanyan is a freelance journalist from Nagorny Karabakh.
Joshqun Eldaroglu is a freelance journalist in Baku.

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