By Hrant Alexanian in Stepanakert
During the visit of the OSCE diplomats to Nagorno-Karabakh this week, local authorities presented a number of projects to start possible cooperation with Azerbaijan as a prelude to reaching an overall conflict resolution agreement.
One of these projects is sale of irrigation water from Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. The main source of such water is the Sarsang reservoir, which traditionally served not only adjacent areas but also regions outside of the enclave’s borders in Azerbaijan proper. This idea was already presented to the Azerbaijani side a few months ago, through the good offices of the OSCE Chairman’s Personal Representative in the conflict, Andrzej Kasprzyk. An Azerbaijani official did visit the Sarsang area and held discussion with his Karabaghi counterpart. Eventually, Azerbaijan agreed with the principle but refused to pay for the water and the project was postponed.
This week the idea of Nagorno-Karabakh selling water to Azerbaijan was presented to the visiting OSCE co-chairmen and according to our correspondent they have taken notice of the proposal and have studied it on the spot. Other projects were also introduced to the co-chairmen, including a proposal to coordinate eradication efforts against Malaria.
OSCE has always backed the idea of limited cooperation in economic and social spheres between the conflicting parties prior to the full resolution of the conflict but Azerbaijan has balked at the idea. Armenia is also in favor of such an approach, as a confidence building measure. Azerbaijan however maintains that before it can reclaim territories lost prior to the cease-fire of 1994, it cannot initiate any limited cooperation with the Armenian side.