By Emil Danielyan
Azerbaijan’s President Heydar Aliev has again dismissed Yerevan’s claims that he and his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, agreed the main terms for ending the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the peace talks in Paris and Key West earlier this year. Aliev told reporters in Baku on Friday that he has not backtracked on any of his promises, a charge implicitly made by Armenian leaders.
“We have violated nothing. We simply discussed various options in Paris, but we did not come to any firm decision,” Aliev said on his return from the CIS summit in Russia, according to an Azerbaijani state television report monitored by the BBC.
“Armenia stepped back from some of the discussed options. Later on I also did not accept some of them. That is why I do not believe that the Paris meetings were perfect ones,” he added without elaborating. “As for the Key West talks, they explained their positions and so did I there. We did not reach any agreement before we left there. This is a process. You reach an agreement one time, later you see that they reject this. One time they agree to my proposal, another time they disagree with this idea.”
Armenian officials and international mediators acting under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe say the parties did make substantial progress after the Paris and Key West talks in March and April respectively. The French, Russian and US mediators undertook at the time to draft a new peace plan to be based on agreements they said had been reached by Aliev and Kocharian. The plan was due to be presented to the two leaders at the next round of negotiations due in Geneva in June. The unexpected cancellation of the Geneva meeting is believed to have put the peace process on hold.
According to official Yerevan, the basic principles of the conflict’s settlement agreed in Paris were at the heart of those agreements.
However, Aliev insisted that the parties did not reach agreement on a particular peace formula. He said it was the Armenian side that scrapped agreements reached by the two presidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in late 1999, shortly before the parliament massacre in Yerevan.
But in another remark, the Azerbaijani leader was understood to imply that there has been a change in Baku’s position recently. He said: “Also, there were issues that at one time I said were acceptable, but now I say that they are not. So this is a process and there are no principles anywhere - neither in Paris, Key West, nor on a border in Nakhichevan.”
Aliev and Kocharian met on the sidelines of the CIS summit in the southern Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday. Neither of them has announced progress in the stalled peace process.