During Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

Azerbaijani Paper Criticizes Minsk Group Cochairmen's Statements in Karabakh

525 Qazet, Baku, in Azeri, May 22, 2001

Excerpt from Kamran Hasanli report by Azerbaijani Newspaper 525 Qazet on 22 May entitled "Cochairmen lied to Karabakh Armenians"

Carey Cavanaugh told the Armenians in Khankandi [Stepanakert] that both the official Baku and the Azerbaijani opposition accept the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as a party involved in the conflict.

The cochairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, Carey Cavanaugh (the USA), Nikolay Gribkov (Russia) and Philippe de Suremain (France), who left Baku for the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh last Saturday [19 May], met representatives of the Armenian separatists in Khankandi.

[Passage omitted: cochairmen did not meet Karabakh President Arkadiy Gukasyan; cochairmen's known statements about Karabakh's future involvement in peace talks].

What is behind Cavanaugh's lies? It seems strange that Gribkov, who made only pessimistic statements in Baku, was "upbeat" during his meetings with Karabakh "officials". When visiting Baku, Mr. Gribkov made no comments about Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Nor did he say anything about the occupation of our territories and the refugee problem. But Gribkov's statements in Khankandi, which pleased the Armenian separatists, once again, demonstrated his country's stance on the settlement of the problem.

But the most interesting point is Gribkov's statement that Karabakh is as an "independent factor" and the separatists soon or later will be involved in the talks. Supporting this statements, Cavanaugh also said that both the official Baku and the Azerbaijani opposition share this position.

One could draw a conclusion from Cavanaugh's words which is: this issue was discussed during his recent meeting with the opposition in Baku and that the latter supported the cochairmen's proposals. So, can we assume that the Azerbaijani opposition consider Nagorno-Karabakh as an "independent factor"?

The secretary of the Musavat Party, Arif Hajiyev, who attended the aforementioned meeting with the cochairmen, was surprised with Cavanaugh's statement. Hajiyev told our correspondent that, in fact, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh's involvement in the talks had not been discussed during the meeting. "We, once again, stated the opposition's position on the issue during the meeting. The meeting was about the settlement of the conflict within the framework of Azerbaijan's state sovereignty, fulfilment of the well-known UN resolutions and the return of refugees to their homes. As far as Karabakh's involvement in the talks is concerned, neither we nor the cochairmen touched upon this issue," Hajiyev said. What does Cavanaugh mean when he says that "the official Baku and the opposition share the same position"?

Hajiyev said that it is not true that the authorities and the opposition share the same position in the Karabakh issue because the cochairmen told the opposition nothing about the progress of the peace process: "They said that the conflict should be settled on the basis of mutual compromises. However, they did not give details of these compromises because negative reaction can surface on both sides and, as a result, the talks may fail". Hajiyev said that the authorities and the opposition might have the same stance towards the fourth proposal which is being worked out by the cochairmen: "I told the cochairmen during the meeting that up to now the OSCE prepared three proposals and all of them are against Azerbaijan's interests.

That is why, the Azerbaijani public, political parties, intellectuals and opposition do not accept these proposals. If the cochairmen's fourth proposal is going to be like the previous ones, we will not accept it, too. In reply, Cavanaugh said that Heydar Aliyev had told him the same words a day earlier. This may be the reason behind Cavanaugh's statement when he said that 'the authorities and the opposition share the same position'".

[Passage omitted: Cavanaugh's other statements were twisted when he met Armenian President Robert Kocharyan in Yerevan; other meetings in Karabakh]
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