YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenian authorities Thursday distanced themselves from a planned visit to Baku by Jirair Libaridian–Armenia’s former chief negotiator on Nagorno-Karabakh–saying that he will be traveling on his own.
The Azeri news agency Turan’said on Wednesday that Libaridian will arrive in Baku from Paris on Friday as a "private guest" of President Haydar Aliyev’s chief foreign policy aide. It quoted Vafa Guluzade as saying that Libaridian will be visiting Azerbaijan "on his own initiative" to "see Baku" and discuss the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"Libaridian is not authorized to speak on behalf of Armenia," a spokesman for the Armenian foreign ministry told RFE/RL. A US citizen of Armenian origin–Libaridian in 1993-97 was former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s top envoy in internationally mediated talks on Karabakh. He and Guluzade also met several times to discuss the long-running Armenian-Azeri conflict face to face.
Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ara Papian said the former diplomat flew to Paris on Thursday from Yerevan where he had arrived last week to take part in a conference organized by the US East-West Institute. "Libaridian didn’t hold meetings with any of Armenian officials while in Yerevan. As a US citizen–he is free to travel to any country," Papian said. But he warned that "psychological difficulties" may arise if Libaridian "tries–in his present status–to discuss issues [in Baku] he is not in a position to deal with."
Libaridian was a key supporter of Ter-Petrosyan’s foreign policy that would offer more concessions to Azerbaijan to end the Karabakh conflict.