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OSCE Offers Peacekeeping Help In Nagorno-Karabakh

(RFE/RL) PRAGUE, 25 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The chairman in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today said the organization would stand ready to help with the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in the separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh should the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agree on it, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reported.

Belgium's Foreign Minister, Karel De Gucht, made the comment after talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, in Baku.The two discussed preparations for a 10 February summit between Armenia's Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev in Rambouillet, near Paris.

"A breakthrough would be a situation in which the troops that are active on both sides would be replaced [with] a peacekeeping force allowing to resolve the remaining problems that in any case will still exist after the Rambouillet talks."

The Kocharian-Aliyev summit will take place under the aegis of the OSCE.

Mammadyarov said he expected no document to be signed at the meeting.

Predominantly ethnic Armenian Karabakh seceded from Soviet Azerbaijan in 1988, triggering a war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and drove hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes. Baku demands that Armenian troops withdraw from the seven Azerbaijani administrative districts they have been occupying since the early 1990s as a prerequisite for peace.

(with additional material from Turan, APA)

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul

On January 25, RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent Mayis Alizade spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister ABDULLAH GUL about prospects for a breakthrough in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

RFE/RL: The general understanding is that 2006 might be the year for a breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict....

GUL: We hope an acceptable resolution will be reached in 2006. Our concern is that other factors might hinder [this process] if it is delayed and no solution can be found. The solution of this conflict would greatly ease the situation in the Caucasus.

RFE/RL: After a long controversy and discussion at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Azerbaijani delegation's credentials were approved. But, pointing to the shortcomings in democratization and reforms, PACE Raporteur Andreas Gross said PACE has been monitoring the situation in Azerbaijan for the last five years and there is no major improvement.

GUL: This is an important process. Every country goes through it. To boost democracy and reforms is something to benefit the countries themselves, and one should not leave it only to the European Council and the European Parliament. I am sure that, if there are problems [with regard to these reforms], the Azerbaijani government will deal with them, and these problems will be resolved. I believe the Council of Europe is very important for Azerbaijan. It wasn't easy to get to there. I know that myself because I worked for it quite hard.

RFE/RL: You are saying Azerbaijan should appreciate the Council of Europe's value?

GUL: No, both sides should appreciate [this relationship]. The Council of Europe is very important for Azerbaijan, as is Azerbaijan for the Council of Europe as an important country of the Caucasus. One should work to solve any problems.

For a complete archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, click here.

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