During Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

Reactions to Karabakh Talks

by Samira Gaziyeva

[RFE/RL] Azerbaijan Report
Date: April 17, 2001

Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev said in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that it is too early to say anything about the results of the negotiations in Florida. As for the new proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group, the mediators have determined the common principles of the new proposal but they have not informed the sides about them yet. Asked what the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyyet" meant when it wrote that Azerbaijan "faces the danger of losing Karabakh," Guliyev said that we already lost Karabakh de-facto during 1988-1994. Today our goal is to return it. "If we are not able to return Karabakh by peace negotiations we will free our occupied territories by military force. Azerbaijan will not move from this position to lose Karabakh de-jure," the minister said.(Natiq Zeynalov)

Etibar Mamedov, chairman of the Azerbaijan National Independence Party, does not expect any positive changes in the Karabakh peace process in the near future. Commenting on the Key West negotiations, he said it was only a process whereby the Bush administration became acquainted with the Karabakh issue. In contrast to earlier negotiations there were some new approaches. It was the first time that mediators made some demands of Armenia. As for Kocharian's optimistic statements after returning to Yerevan, Armenia is obliged to retreat from its main principles because all the mediators recognize territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Etibar Mamedov said.

Ali Kerimov, head of the "reformist" wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, told an RFE/RL correspondent on April 16 that the only positive moment in the Key West negotiations was that U.S. State Department recognized Armenia as the aggressor before the beginning of the talks. According to Kerimov, the OSCE Minsk Group mediators demonstrated that they are ready to take a real part in settling of the conflict. At the same time he does not believe the mediators are preparing proposals to the benefit of Azerbaijan. All the proposals prepared by the Minsk Group earlier were against Azerbaijan's interest and meant the independence of Karabakh inside Azerbaijan. Ali Kerimov thinks the new Minsk Group proposals will not differ from the earlier ones.

Mubariz Gurbanli, deputy executive secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, assessed the Key West negotiations as positive. In spite of confidential character of the negotiations, observations show that there was great pressure on Armenia. According to Gurbanli, the new OSCE Minsk Group proposals will be on principle different from the earlier ones.
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