YEREVAN (BBC)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian has denied reports by some mass media about the recent meeting of the Armenian and Azeri defense ministers in Tbilisi where the issue of the return of the so-called "occupied territories" in return for Azerbaijan lifting its blockade on communications was ostensibly discussed.
Interviewed by Armenian national television–Kocharian said he was unaware what the Azerbaijani mass media were disseminating but he assumed that the Azerbaijani leadership was in this way trying to justify or explain the motives prompting the meeting–which had in fact taken place.
Moreover–the Armenian president said that agreement had been reached about holding further meetings with the purpose of implementing steps at the line of confrontation which could promote the establishment of an atmosphere of mutual trust and rule out shooting and enable farmers of both states to engage in agricultural work unhindered and jointly use water resources–etc.
Kocharian said that he had advanced this initiative during a meeting with [Azerbaijani President] Heydar Aliyev in Moscow–proposing to begin with small specific steps–given the parties’ lack of trust in each other. There were no talks about the return of territories–Kocharian said. He noted that Armenia considered that along with the issues of status–security and a whole range of others–issues of the future of territories is a constituent part of the whole settlement package. The small specific steps towards the establishment of an atmosphere of mutual trust between the sides to the conflict will further such a settlement to the issue–which will make it possible to establish a lasting peace–the Armenian president stressed.