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Armenia/Azerbaijan: OSCE's Nagorno-Karabakh Co-Chairs Meet Next Week

Munich, 19 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - The co-chairs of the negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute -- the United States, Russia and France -- meet in Copenhagen Monday to consider how to revitalize the negotiations.

A spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) tells RFE/RL that -- contrary to previous reports -- representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorna-Karabakh have not been invited to participate in the Copenhagen meeting.

It is the first time there have been three co-chairs of the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations. The OSCE spokesman said the proceedings had to be re-organized to meet the new situation. Originally only France was invited to join Russia as co-chair. The United States was added last week as a result of protests by Azerbaijan.

One question which has to be decided at the Copenhagen talks is where the negotiating sessions will take place. In the past two years, they alternated between Moscow and Helsinki, because Finland was co-chair. The OSCE spokesman said it assumed that meetings will now take place in Moscow and Paris. The United States has nominated Vienna as its meeting site, saying it is too much to expect negotiators to fly to Washington.

The OSCE spokesman said no date has yet been set for a new negotiating session, however, he said a date may be agreed at next week's Copenhagen meeting.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave inside Azerbaijan populated mostly by ethnic Armenians. Fighting erupted in 1988, after the ethnic Armenians declared sovereignty. An OSCE-sponsored ceasefire was accepted in May 1994, but the sides remain far apart on the terms of a permanent settlement.