By Armen Dulian
“During recent years the United States has been involved, interested in the South Caucasus, and its policy here was balanced, so the continuation of the same policy will be positive for our region and Armenia,” Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL on 9 November.
Commenting on the results of recent U.S. presidential election, Oskanian stated that new positive developments took place in Armenian-American relations during President George W. Bush’s first term in office. The Armenian Foreign Minister mentioned the establishment of military cooperation between the two countries, Armenia’s inclusion in the Millenium Challenge Account program, and the fact that Washington has maintained aid to Armenia at the same level even though the amount of aid to other countries is being gradually cut.
“I believe that during George Bush’s second term in office we should not maintain the same level of our relations, but deepen and develop them,” Oskanian said.
Turning to the prospects for resolving the Karabakh conflict, Oskanian stated that “serious progress” was achieved during his four meetings with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in Prague and Strasbourg over the past six months.
“We can now enter the second stage of the Prague meetings and deepen the achievements of the first stage,” Oskanian said. “Azerbaijan has announced that it would wait for Armenia’s response to begin the second stage of the negotiations. I can announce through your Radio that Armenia has already given its positive answer and is ready to resume the negotiations as early as tomorrow.”
The Armenian Foreign Minister characterized as “a diplomatic mistake” Azerbaijan’s initiative to include in the agenda of UN General Assembly the issue of the resettlement of Armenian families on Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani territories around Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Azerbaijan should not hope to continue the negotiations within OSCE Minsk Group and at the same time expect other solutions for separate issues picked from the whole package in other instances. It never happens,” Oskanian said. “Either we continue the negotiations within the Minsk Group, trying to reach a solution of the whole problem, or Azerbaijan can take the issue to other instances, seeking separate solutions, and in that case Baku will have to deal with the authorities of Karabakh. The ball today is in their court.”