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Mediators Oppose Karabakh Independence, Says Azeri Official


Azerbaijan -- Novruz Mammadov, head of international relations department of President′s Office, Baku, 01Apr2008

Azerbaijan -- Novruz Mammadov, head of international relations department of President′s Office, Baku, 01Apr2008

The basic principles of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favored by international mediators preclude international recognition of the disputed territory’s secession from Azerbaijan, according to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s chief foreign policy aide.

“As is pointed out in the ‘Madrid principles’ and as the president of Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated in his speeches, the conflict can be resolved only within the framework of the country’s territorial integrity,” Novruz Mammadov said in an interview with the APA news agency published on Tuesday. He said future agreements on Karabakh’s status envisaged by the proposed settlement would amount to clarifying the extent of the Armenian-populated enclave’s autonomy within Azerbaijan.

The claims sharply contrast with Armenian officials’ interpretation of the basic principles which the U.S., French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group formally proposed in Madrid in November 2007. According to them, Karabakh’s population would be able to vote for independence, reunification with Armenia or return under Azerbaijani in a future referendum to be held years after the liberation of the Armenian-occupied territories around Karabakh.

The mediators themselves have refused to elaborate on the proposed vote in their public pronouncements, saying that its practical modalities have yet to be agreed upon. In a July 10 joint statement, the U.S., Russian and French presidents said only that Karabakh’s status will be determined “through a legally binding expression of will.”

The mediators are expected to present the conflicting parties with what they call an “updated version” of the Madrid principles soon. Whether or not they plan to make significant changes in the document, first discussed by Aliyev and Armenia’s former President Robert Kocharian, remains to be seen.

Mammadov claimed that Armenia’s current leadership “often changes its position” and is “not yet daring to take serious steps” in the peace talks. He also said the mediating powers have stepped up their pressure on the Armenian side due to a number of factors, notably the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.
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