Karabakh Conflict
Current Developments
President Aliyev's Visit to Key West, Florida

Date Released: April 2, 2001
Source: AssA-Irada News Agency, Baku

President Aliyev left for the USA on Sunday to take part in Karabakh peace talks in Key West, Florida, being brokered by the United States. Before departure, he told journalists at the airport that the two presidents would, for the first time, be brought together by co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. He said other experts could also be involved in negotiations.

When asked whether there had been any serious changes in Russia's stance, President replied that he had nothing specific to say. However, he indicated that Baku and Moscow had held fruitful talks over Karabakh conflict settlement lately.

In response to the question whether the Key West meeting would be followed by talks in Moscow, Heydar Aliyev said he had no information to that effect.

Expressing his opinion about the recent statement by the Minsk Group co-chairs [Russia, France and the United States] that the parties are as close to signing a peace accord as they have never been before, the President said there were grounds for optimism. In reply to the question if the recent visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ismayil Cem to the USA could effect the Karabakh negotiation process, Heydar Aliyev said, "Turkey has always been sympathetic to Azerbaijan cause. However, having noticed the keenness of certain circles in Turkey to thaw relations with Armenia, I notified Turkish government officials of this. This issue could have been raised in Mr. Cem's meetings in Washington."

Asked whether he is going to convey the suggestions of the Azerbaijan people over the conflict settlement, President said there were no suggestions he was unaware of. "But I know what people feel and I will certainly take that into consideration," he added. Is there a possibility of a breakthrough in the deadlocked negotiations? Aliyev said he didn't know, but hoped there was.

In an answer to the question whether Russia, which has a military cooperation treaty with Armenia, would intervene should a war break out, the President said it was unclear at present. Heydar Aliyev reiterated that he would do his utmost for a peaceful resolution of the conflict and never agree to something that may hurt national interests of Azerbaijan. He said an agreement in the negotiations would only be the first stage in breaking the impasse, while peace is a more complex matter. It is necessary to pass through several stages before the 12-year-long protracted conflict is resolved. The peace accord must be signed not only by the two conflicting parties, but also the superpowers, the UN, OSCE [Organization for the Security and Cooperation of Europe), and the European Union.

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