During Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

Armenian, Azeri Leaders Meet in Florida
by Anna Hakobyan

Source: Transitions Online
Date: April 2-8, 2001

YEREVAN, Armenia - Negotiations between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azeri President Heydar Aliyev that started on 3 April in Key West, Florida, ended as expected on 6 April, but without any measurable progress.

Vahe Gabrielian, Kocharians spokesman, on 7 April said that the meeting had resulted in a further narrowing of differences, but Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian asserted that there are still disagreements on numerous questions, The Associated Press reported.

Despite these statements, U.S. representative Carey Cavanaugh told journalists that the meetings represented a bold and significant step forward, and French negotiator Jean-Jacques Gaillard said that the two sides are now much closer to peace than they were before the Key West meeting, RFE/RL reported. They also announced that a comprehensive new proposal was being readied, though they refused to provide specifics.

The Minsk branch of the OSCE mediated the latest round of talks, and representatives of the co-chair countries - Nikolai Gribkov from Russia, Cavanaugh from the United States, and Gaillard from France - were joined by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Neither Kocharian nor Aliyev had evinced much hope in the run-up to the talks that a breakthrough was imminent.

The meetings focused not only on creating a new version of the disputed 1994 Karabakh conflict settlement but also on narrowing the discords that have been reported in the previous 16 face-to-face Kocharian-Aliyev meetings.

During a 3 April press conference, Powell, when asked about the chances of a new agreement, answered only that there were a number of ideas, but called on the two parties to make a mutual compromise. After meeting separately with the OSCE Minsk group and Powell on 3 April, however, the Armenian and Azeri presidents also held a press conference during which the two exchanged barbs.

Statements from Baku on 5 April - just three days into the Key West meeting - were far from conciliatory. In an interview published that day in Azerbaijan, head of the Azeri presidential administration Ramiz Mehtiyev said that if a more equitable peace is not negotiated, new violence is possible. Azeri Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov told Yeni Musavat that he is pessimistic about the chances of a breakthrough, RFE/RL reported.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh - which cost more than 20,000 lives between 1991 and 1994 - was formally ended by a 1994 cease-fire, but the questions of Azeri territorial integrity and ethnic Armenian self-determination in the region remain unsolved.

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