BAKU (RFE/RL)–Azerbaijan is fully satisfied with the latest joint statement by the U.S., Russian and French presidents that reaffirmed their blueprint for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a senior aide to President Ilham Aliyev said on Wednesday.
“The statement fully satisfies Azerbaijan,” the APA news agency quoted Ali Hasanov, head of the public-political department at the Azerbaijani presidential administration, as telling journalists in Baku.
“The statement contains a demand for the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories as well as the will of those countries to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he said. “As for the circulation of that statement on websites of various countries in a distorted, incorrectly translated form, we call that an inadvertent mistake.”
Hasanov clearly referred to significant discrepancies between the official Russian translation of the statement released by the Kremlin and the English-language original. In particular, the Russian version does not use the word “occupied” with regard to the Armenian-controlled territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.
It also refers to “the determination of the future final status of Nagorno-Karabakh by a legally-binding expression of the will of its population.” The English version speaks only of “a legally-binding expression of will.”
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian insisted that the mediating powers believe Karabakh’s status must be decided only by its indigenous Armenian population when he voiced Yerevan’s support for the statement on Monday.
Armenia’s leading opposition groups, notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), have reacted far more negatively to the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement outlined by the heads of the three nations co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.
“Their statement doesn’t say who must express their will,” Vahan Hovannesian, a member of the ARF’s governing Bureau, told a news conference on Wednesday. “It doesn’t say Nagorno-Karabakh’s population. Azerbaijan can interpret this in its favor.”
Underscoring the party’s position on the dispute, Hovannesian said that the Armenians are being offered very little in exchange for abandoning “the security zone” around Karabakh. “They can object that if you cede the security zone, Karabakh will have an agreement with Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan will not launch attacks anymore,” he said. “Oh, really? There already exists a [ceasefire] agreement. Does it keep the Azerbaijanis from attacking? No.”
Hovannesian, who is the ARF’s parliamentary faction president, also rejected the mediating powers’ offer of an “interim status of Nagorno-Karabakh guaranteeing security and self-governance.” “That’s not self-determination, that’s self-governance,” he said.