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Armenia: Solution to Nagorno Karabakh Still Distant

Erevan, July 16 (RFE/RL) -- Armenian Foreign Minister Vahan Papazian warned today that a solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is still a long way off.

In the words of the minister, "I don't believe it is possible to find a quick solution." Papazian spoke in Erevan to a visiting Council of Europe delegation headed by Council Secretary General Daniel Tarschys and Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas. Papazian said his country will work to strengthen a ceasefire that has been in effect for more than two years in the disputed enclave of ethnic Armenians within Azerbaijan. And he said he is convinced that armed fighting will not break out again.

Deputy Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told RFE/RL that Armenia would encourage Nagorno-Karabakh's authorities to give up all other occupied territories in Azerbaijan as long as Nagorno-Karabakh can keep the Lachin corridor, which he said the people of the enclave see as vital for their security as well as for obtaining supplies from Armenia. Oskanian said "the territories have become a liability." He added that a joint approach by the United States and Russia is the only way to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan demands that all occupied land be returned to government control.

Tarschys made it clear in his talks in Erevan that Armenia cannot hope for membership in the democracy-promoting human rights Council of Europe until the conflict is resolved.