Yerevan, 9 November 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Armenia says it expects that OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) mediators will bring substantially revised peace proposals on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict when they visit the region this week (Nov. 9- Nov. 14).
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told reporters (Nov. 5) that the Russian, U.S. and French co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group are likely to return to a so-called "package" strategy, involving a single peace accord settling all contentious issues.
A senior Russian diplomat in Yerevan also said earlier last week that the co-chairs will present what he called "revised" proposals, but he declined to give details.
During their last visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan in mid-September, the co-chairmen had suggested new approaches to resolving the conflict in talks which Karabakh officials said had reflected a greater understanding of the Armenian position. But neither Armenian nor Karabakh officials explained what those new approaches comprise.
The last OSCE peace plan, rejected by Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh but backed by Azerbaijan, called for a phased settlement of the decade-long territorial dispute. It also envisaged an ultimate restoration of Azerbaijani sovereignty over the Armenian-populated disputed enclave which broke away from Baku's rule in the late 1980s. But following the September talks Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arsen Gasparian said that the phased peace plan had not been discussed.
Oskanian also said (Nov. 5) that he thought the new OSCE proposals would be "a package peace plan with new approaches and no preconditions." He added that the proposals would likely contain what he termed "unconventional" solutions favored by the Armenian side. Both Yerevan and Stepanakert insist that Karabakh be granted an "unconventional" status, which would rule out any subordination to Azerbaijan.
Oskanian said as well that the 40-nation Council of Europe has proposed what he described as a new "compromise" format for hearings on Nagorno-Karabakh. These were originally scheduled for November 3 at Council headquarters in Strasbourg, but did not take place because of Azerbaijan's objections.
Baku had asked that the ethnic Azerbaijani minority of Karabakh should also be invited to the hearings as a separate conflicting party, as was the case with the disputed region's ethnic Armenian authorities.
According to Oskanian, the Council of Europe has proposed that the Azerbaijani community, which fled Karabakh during the war in the early 1990s, take part in the discussions as part of Baku's delegation.
Oskanian called the new arrangements "largely acceptable" to Yerevan. He said that the Council of Europe hearings were now tentatively scheduled --pending Baku's approval-- for December 16 in Paris.