YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–During a joint press conference with Azeri counterpart Heidar Aliyev in Strasbourg on January 26–President Robert Kocharian said that a settlement to the Karabakh conflict is not far off.
Since early 1999–when the series of high-level meetings between the two leaders began–the sides have traveled quite a long way and are well aware of each other’s positions. Kocharian said all that is left is the finding of common ground to compromise on and have it be digestible for all three parties involved:
When asked by a journalist if Armenia was ready to find the strength to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity–President Kocharian answered: "Is Azerbaijan ready to find the strength to recognize the formed statehood of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic? I think that is the correct way of asking the question."
Kocharian outlined the major principles which–in his opinion–should underline the settlement scheme: Equality of the parties involved in the conflict–exclusion of enclave status of the Karabakh Republic–and international guarantees of security. "Within the framework of these principles," Kocharian said–"Armenia is ready to agree to numerous combinations and variations."
Heidar Aliyev denied the possibility of forming a military bloc as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Baku. "I think that there should be no military blocs. If all states are seeking peace–they must renounce military unions–wars and armamen’s," he said. Aliyev described the visit of Putin to Azerbaijan as very important and useful and expressed confidence that it will exert essential influence on the further development of Azeri-Russian relations and expansion of cooperation.
In the context of the Karabakh settlement President Kocharian made a positive assessment of the Russian president’s visit to Baku–pointing out that if the improvement in the Russian-Azerbaijanian relations and strengthening of mutual confidence takes place–the attitude to Russia as a co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group will be positive.
As to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the French Parliament–Azerbaijani President Aliyev regards it as an inadmissible attempt on France’s part to interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs. In Robert Kocharian’s opinion–the entire logic of European integration implies that human rights and humanitarian problems cannot be considered an individual country’s internal affair. "I think that the French Parliament made a proper assessment of historical events and acted with dignity," the Armenian president said.
In his turn–Heydar Aliyev said–"Human rights concern present-day Europe–but not the year 1915 when the world was quite different. Then–there existed neither a Council of Europe nor human rights–or democracy. So we cannot equate that time with the present day."