By Emil Danielyan
Azerbaijan on Thursday again accused international mediators of pro-Armenian bias as they prepared for a new round of shuttle diplomacy over the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Reports from Baku said Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev complained that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose Minsk Group is spearheading the peace effort, is unwilling to uphold his country’s sovereignty over the disputed territory. Guliev told the OSCE’s visiting chairman, Jaime Gama, that the group’s American, French and Russian co-chairs want the Azerbaijani leadership to take into account the status quo and accept Karabakh's de facto independence.
The comments, which highlighted Baku’s unhappiness with the co-chairs’ recent peace proposals, came the day before their arrival in the region. The troika is due in Baku on Friday. It will travel on to Armenia and Karabakh at the weekend.
"In the past 10 years the OSCE and other international organizations could have achieved better results (in resolving the conflict)," Guliev said. "But on the contrary, the international community has taken a soft position towards Armenia and put its head in the sand.”
Guliev added that while the OSCE has recognized the territorial integrity of countries like Georgia and Moldova embroiled in similar ethnic disputes, it has failed to do so with regard to Azerbaijan. The international community is now imposing a new “tragedy” on the Azerbaijani people by seeking “significant concessions” to the Armenians, he charged.
The Azerbaijani Turan news agency reported that Gama, speaking to reporters late on Wednesday, ducked a question about whether the OSCE regards Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. “Both warring sides have their sovereign rights. We are just creating a framework for the conflict’s resolution,” the Portuguese foreign minister was quoted as saying.
Gama also reportedly said that agreements reached by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents during talks in Paris and the Florida island of Key West last year remain “the basis of the negotiations.” Officials in Yerevan have said that those agreements largely reflect the Armenian position on the issue and accused Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev of backtracking on them.
Aliev and Guliev have repeatedly denied their existence. They have also claimed over the past several months that the Minsk Group proposals favor the Armenian side.
Gama confirmed during his Caucasus tour that the mediators will submit new proposals to conflicting parties. The chief French negotiator, Philippe de Suremain, told RFE/RL on February 21 that they will not differ significantly from the previous ones.