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Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijani Says Armenia Not Flexible on Karabakh

By Joel Blocker/ Rolland Eggleston

Strasbourg, 27 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- In Strasbourg today, the head of Azerbaijan's new guest delegation to the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly said Armenia's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute is neither flexible nor constructive. And Mahoud Mamedkouliyev, an Azerbaijani parliamentarian as well as Deputy Foreign Minister, said he had sensed "no progress" in his meetings with members of Armenia's guest delegation to the Parliament during the past five days.

The assembly's week-long Autumn session ends this afternoon. It is the first session to be attended by Azerbaijan, which was granted guest status three months ago.

In a meeting with journalists, Mamedkouliyev said Yerevan was still insisting on full independence for ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. He called this "unacceptable."

He said that Azerbaijan was willing to grant "full autonomy" to Armenians in the area, but could not agree to Yerevan's demand for a separate state with its own army. But Mamedkouliyev also said that the two countries will continue to have bilateral meetings on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

He said the meetings were focused on: direct talks between officials of the two states, meetings within the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) negotiating framework, and contacts such as his and the Armenian delegation had in Strasbourg this week.

Mamedkouliyev, his country's former ambassador to Britain, said he hoped this week's post-election troubles in Armenia would not de-stabilize the Yerevan Government. He said Azerbaijan needed a "stable" partner in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

International negotiators today are scheduled to conclude two days of talks in Moscow on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. The Moscow meeting, in general, was scheduled to discuss new proposals for breaking a deadlock in negotiations, and - specifically - a basic statement of principles that all sides could accept as a basis for concrete negotiations on a permanent settlement.

There has been little progress since a ceasefire went into effect in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in May 1994. None of the parties to the dispute will attend the Moscow meeting.

The international group, which includes the U.S., Russia and Belarus, want some progress before a summit in December of the 54 states in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is in charge of the talks.

The Moscow meeting is also scheduled to hear a report from Joseph Pressel, a top U.S. negotiator who recently visted Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.