A new impulse will be visible in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement after elections in Armenia American Co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group

Trend Exclusive Interview with American Co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza

- On February 7, 2007 documents were signed in Tbilisi on construction of the railway link Baku-Tbilisi-Kars. Armenia lost its chance to get involved in the third large-scale regional project. Acknowledge that the ambitions of Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh cost a lot to it.

- I would like Armenia also to participate in these projects. I understand that presently our friends, who carry out the project Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, do not stand ready to include Armenia in this project. But it is a political fact. We support Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia. As regards to Armenia, we would like to find a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict so that all sides benefit by such projects.

- The recent joint statement of the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group says that the State Heads of Azerbaijan and Armenia should prepare the communities of their countries for compromise. What did you mean while saying compromise? This statement was not unambiguously assessed in Azerbaijan.

- As you know, there are general principles proposed by the co-chairs. These principles also include compromise. As co-chairs, we consider that it may give the best opportunity for the settlement of the conflict. It needs to find a common language as it is a compromise. Presently I consider that both sides are already near the compromise and agreement. However, they have not reached the end of this way, technical questions have remained, on which it needs to find a common language.

- Azerbaijan requires restoring its territorial integrity and return of the internally displaced people to their Native lands, but Armenia puts forward its conditions. Is it possible to ensure these requirements simultaneously?

- It is possible. As diplomats we have our tasks. Compromise need to be found between the right of self-determination and territorial integrity. There is no universal principle. Conflicts are different. I consider that it is possible by creating conditions for such a compromise. But it is difficult. Presently a number of technical questions have remained, in which the opinions of the two countries do not coincide. I think that after elections in Armenia, it will be possible to find a common language. I do not now if there is political will in Azerbaijan and Armenia to do it. I think that the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, want it, but it becomes difficult when we are in the season of the political elections.

- Recently the ruling New Azerbaijan Party appealed to the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group with a letter of protest against monument for so-called independence day in occupied Shusha city of Azerbaijan. How do you assess such actions in the period of intensive negotiations?

- I consider that all such actions and events raise the level of tension between the sides and do not help the negotiations process. As regards to this monument, I do not have any information вЂ" I am sorry.

- There are such opinions that the parliamentary elections in Armenia in 2007 and presidential elections in Azerbaijan in 2008 will prevent the settlement of the conflict. Do you agree with it?

- I do not agree with it. I consider that the elections are difficult element of this procedure. But on the other hand, the negotiations are continuing even now. Maybe the Presidents will not meet till the parliamentary election in Armenia, but the Foreign Ministers will continue the talks.

- When do you plan to hold the next meeting of the Foreign Ministers?

- Next week, I will visit Paris to participate at the conference on energy. I think that I will meet with Bernard Fassier and possibly the Russian co-chair Yuri Merzylakov will join us. The meeting of the Ministers may take place till the end of February or at the beginning of March. It depends on their working schedule. Generally it does not need to meet often.

- It means that a ground should exist for each meeting, isn't it?

- The main fact is that there should be spirit of good will in the talks and I consider that it exists. When they met in Moscow and exchanged views, they approached closer in their positions on general principles. It means that there is progress and it is impossible to achieve big progress without such meetings.

- It is stated always that certain progresses exist, but the community can not receive enough information on them.

- Concrete negotiations go on, but it is impossible to announce them publicly. It may cause the politicization of the negotiations. I think that everyone needs to trust in the Ministers.

- Although there were large hopes in 2006 for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, they did not justify themselves. Is it possible to await concrete settlement in 2007?

- It is possible. I hope that there will be a new impulse after the elections in Armenia, which will be visible. But presently this impulse is not visible because the negotiations will go on very slowly till the elections.

- You said that the meeting of the Presidents will take place after the elections in Armenia, after which a new impulse will be visible. Is it a sign that concrete settlement will be achieved after elections in Armenia?

- I hope so. I am a modest co-chair, mediator. I do not take responsibility for the settlement. Only the Presidents may undertake such responsibility.

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