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OSCE Chairman Upbeat On Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Prospects

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabaev

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabaev

BAKU -- Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabaev said that his country and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are prepared to help resolve the dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Saudabaev, the OSCE's chairman in office, met in Baku on February 15 with representatives from Azerbaijani political parties, including opposition leaders, to discuss Karabakh and democratization issues.

At one meeting, Democratic Reforms Party leader Assim Mollazade criticized OSCE efforts to mediate on Nagorno-Karabakh. He said Azerbaijan has lost hope that international organizations can resolve the conflict peacefully.

"We are dissatisfied with the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group, which creates conditions [only] to simulate the negotiation process and are inconclusive," Mollazade said

Saudabaev said after meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov that the OSCE "is optimistic about resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the results of an arduous negotiation process."

He added that it would be encouraging "if both sides will adhere to the agreed principles" and that Kazakhstan will use its opportunity as OSCE chairman in 2010 to help mediate on Karabakh.

Mammadyarov, for his part, was quoted as saying that those principles are "on the whole acceptable" to Baku.

Saudabaev said Kazakhstan knew the history of the Karabakh problem and had "good relations with both sides in the conflict."

He also said he believed Azerbaijan would work with OSCE institutions to improve the legal media environment in the country and would coordinate with OSCE bodies that hope to monitor Azerbaijan's parliamentary elections in November.

Saudabaev -- whose own country has been criticized by human rights organizations for its lack of democratic reforms and harassment of the media -- said the OSCE is ready to support the process of democratic reform in Azerbaijan.

The OSCE chairman in office is in Armenia today for talks with government officials and political party leaders.