Munich, Mar 22 (RFE/RL) - The lack of progress
in the latest initiative to settle the nagorno-karabakh conflict was
discussed in Moscow today by U.S. Secretary of state Warren
Christopher and Russia's foreign minister Yevgeni Primakov.
U.S. diplomats tell rfe/rl that christopher and primakov agreed to
continue pressing Armenia and Azerbaijan to make compromises over
nagorno-karabakh, and to agree on a set of principles for a permanent
end to the conflict. There were no other details.
Nagorno-Karabkah is an enclave within Azerbaijan populated mostly by
ethnic Armenians. Fighting erupted in 1988, following the declaration
of sovereignty by the ethnic Armenians. A ceasefire
was agreed in May 1994, but international mediators have been unable
to translate this into a permanent cessation of hostilities, and
negotiations on a political settlement.
this month, U.S. deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott and
Russia's first deputy foreign minister Boris Pastukhov visited
Yerevan and Baku, urging the governments to accept a "declaration of
principles" for settling the conflict drawn-up by the "Organisation
for Security and Cooperation in Europe"(OSCE). A russian team also
visited stepanakert. It was hoped the declaration could be signed on
the sidelines of next month's summit meeting in Moscow (Apr 19), and
could be used by Russia's President Boris Yeltsin in his election
But the initiative is stalled. An OSCE spokesman (anonymous) today
told rfe/rl that neither Armenia, nor Azerbaijan was willing to
accept the complete package, and they differed on the parts they
The OSCE spokesman said the absence of movement on the initiative
was a "disappointment." He said the package of "principles" did not
contain any concrete agreements. It was intended to lay out a
framework on which negotiations could be built. the spokesman
described it as a "political document which would basically guarantee
that both sides possessed the political will to reach a permanent
The spokesman said one of the major issues discussed in the package
was the Lachin corridor, which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia across mountainous Azerbaijani territory. the corridor was captured by Armenian forces in April 1992.
Azerbaijan has made its return to full Azerbaijani sovereignty a key
issue in the negotiations. Armenian forces say they are prepared to
return much Azerbaijani territory, but insist on other arrangements -
including security arrangements - for the Lachin corridor.
Diplomats had said mediators had offered a compromise in which the
Lachin corridor would legally continue to be Azerbaijani territory,
but in practice would not be treated as such. (in technical terms:
it would be Azerbaijani territory "de jure" - but "de facto" not).
However, Azerbaijan has rejected this approach, and insisted on
the return of the corridor.
The OSCE spokesman said the refusal of Armenia and Azerbaijan to
accept the package of "principles" has prompted questions about how
long the international negotiators should continue to try to reach a
settlement. He said there was no question of withdrawing at the
present time, but the idea would return if there was no concrete
progress to build on the 1994 ceasefire.
In Prague yesterday, the chairman of the OSCE, Swiss foreign
minister Flavio Cotti, also warned that the OSCE mediation effort
could not continue indefinitely, if no progress is made by the
parties to the conflict, negotiations on The Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict resume in Moscow next week. An OSCE spokesman said today the
meeting will study computer-produced maps of possible dividing lines
between the forces and possible borders for Nagorno-Karabakh.
The meeting will take place from Monday to Thursday.
Friday, there will be a meeting of all eleven countries in the
international group trying to reach a permanent settlement of the
Another round of the private talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan is
also scheduled for next week. This is conducted at the level of
presidential advisors, but details of the talks have never been
disclosed. The OSCE spokesman said the failure to agree on the
package of "principles" indicated that these talks also had
apparently made little progress.