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Azerbaijan Report: April 9, 2001

9 April 2001
Novruz Mamedov, head of Azerbaijan's presidential administration for external relations and a member of the Azerbaijani delegation in Key West, said in an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that the last day of negotiations between Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev and Armenian President Robert Kocharian were useful. He noted that all talks were held behind closed doors and added that no information has been given to the press. He also did not rule out that there could be a meeting between Aliyev and Kocharian in Russia after planned talks in Geneva in June.

When Mamedov was asked by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service: "What did Carey Cavanaugh, head of the U.S. delegation in the negotiations, mean when he said that we have 'achieved more progress here than we had expected,'" Mamedov said: "I can only say that the negotiations were useful and there was some advancement in closing in the positions of the two sides. As to Cavanaugh's point of view about 'great progress,' it would be better to ask Cavanaugh what he meant," Mamedov said.

Azerbaijani observers and the leaders of opposition parties in large part still do not expect any serious results from the negotiations in the U.S.

Former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofiq Zulfugarov thinks that the best that the OSCE co-chairs are going to be able to do is to prepare a new proposal on a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that is based on the last three. But he says in all cases when the settlement of the conflict is in a "packet agreement" manner then the talks will end without results. A "packet agreement" will mean that the process begins by determining the status of Karabakh. According to Zulfugarov, if the next proposal is based on a "packet settlement" it means international organizations are unable to put pressure upon Armenia and that the ineffectual talks will continue.

The former state adviser on foreign policy, Vafa Guluzadeh, commenting on the negotiations in Key West, does not believe the peace negotiations will end up benefiting Azerbaijan. According to him, it is not possible to restore the sovereign rights of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh through peaceful means.

Elkhan Mehdiev, the head of the Center on the Settlement of the Conflict, pointed out that the OSCE's new proposals will have the same effect as the last ones. According to him there will be a possibility in new proposals for Armenia and Azerbaijan to exchange territory. Mekhdiev thinks that Azerbaijan's interests in these negotiations and the subject at the conclusion of talks is to find the variant of the status of Karabakh -- from the highest degree of self-government being granted to Karabakh's separatist regime by Baku to the independence of the region, which is what Armenia is trying to secure.

Etibar Mamedov, head of the National Independence Party, thinks that if there was any progress in the Key West negotiations it would not be to the benefit of Azerbaijan. According to him, Azerbaijan has to take serious measures in its foreign and internal policy. We have to improve the economy, end corruption and bribery, and strengthen the army. Only afterwards should Azerbaijan clarify its foreign policy direction.

Zardusht Alizadeh, head of the Social Democratic Party, believes that the negotiations in Florida were unsuccessful. The sides are interested in the meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush because they do not want to admit the fact that the talks have failed.

Compiled by Samira Gaziyeva in Baku.