Azerbaijan, Baku / Тrend corr E. Huseynov, K. Ramazanova / The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mathew Bryza, considers that there is a possibility of achieving an agreement on the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by the end of this year.
However, Bryza was unable to say that the solution would be found in 2007. "There is a possibility by the end of this year. We will witness constructive co-operation, but I cannot forecast that the decision will be made this year. Possibly, a break will be made in the process of peaceful settlement due to the elections to be held in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and in Russia next year, but we will not give up," Bryza said in an interview with the Russian News Times newspaper.
Bryza mentioned that a steady progress was achieved at the end of last year during the peaceful negotiations between Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents in Minsk.
In May, parliamentary elections were held in Armenia, but we did not suspend the work. We just did not precipitate the negotiations in that period in order to give the Armenian President, Robert Kocharyan, more political space for manoeuvres. We recall that he promised to return to the issue after the elections. But that did not happen. It turned out that in St. Petersburg (Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in St. Petersburg on 9 June 2007 during an informal CIS summit) the presidents did not make any important decision. I cannot say what the reason for that was. Every president has his wishes and his motives," Bryza noted.
According to the diplomat, there are three main principles which can affect the negotiations, namely the refusal to use forces, recognition of territorial integrity of the states, and the right for national self-determination of the nations. "I believe in every conflict, it can be in Georgia, Caucasus, Abkhazia, Karabakh, or Moldavia, if the people seek a peaceful solution, a compromise should be made regarding those principles. "That is the task of the leaders. The right for self-determination can result in independence or autonomy. And I, as a mediator and a diplomat, cannot define which status that will be, that is not my task. I can say that today, in accordance with international law, we recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Negotiations are underway and we are searching for a compromise," he said.
The conflict between the two countries of South Caucasus began in 1988 due to territorial claims by Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia has occupied 20% of the Azerbaijani land including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding Districts. Since 1992, these territories have been under the occupation of the Armenian Forces. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France and USA) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.