Friday, July 15, 2005

Karabakh Peace Deal In Sight

RFE/RL once again confirms that this time round, there really is the chance of a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed mainly Armenian inhabited territory of Nagorno Karabakh.
“Yes, there is a possibility of a Karabakh settlement in the course of this year,” said Steven Mann, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. He added that an agreement will be signed “this year or within the next hundred years,” indicating that the peace process has reached a make-or-break point.
Bernard Fassier, the group’s French co-chair, clarified that the conflicting parties are more likely to sign a framework agreement on “the basic principles” of the peaceful settlement. Both he and Mann stressed that the successful outcome of the negotiations is still not a forgone conclusion.


Senior Armenian government sources have told RFE/RL that the two sides are close to a peace deal that will enable the population of Karabakh to determine its status at a referendum to be held in 10-15 years time. They claimed that the vote will follow the liberation of all but one of the occupied Azerbaijani districts and the reopening of Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Of course, the opposition in both Armenia and Azerbaijan don't like the news:
Some Armenian opposition leaders have already rejected that formula. One of them, Vazgen Manukian, called it “absolutely unacceptable” on Thursday. “We give away those territories and there will be a referendum in 10 or 15 years time,” he told RFE/RL. “What would we gain from that? I don’t know.”

“Karabakh’s status must be determined now, not after 10 or 15 years,” he said. “Armenia and Azerbaijan must declare that they want a referendum to be held in Karabakh now and will accept its results.”

The reported settlement has also been denounced by opposition figures in Azerbaijan who believe that Baku would never stand a chance of winning back Karabakh in that case.
The full article can be read online here.

Meanwhile, RFE/RL also reports that Armenia and Turkey have been holding secret talks in an undisclosed European city in order to "normalize relations." According to RFE/RL and other sources, these talks can also be closely linked to the possibility of an imminent Karabakh peace deal.
Diplomatic sources in Yerevan told RFE/RL last week that Armenia and Azerbaijan have already agreed on the main points of a Karabakh peace accord which they said could be signed by the end of this year or at the beginning of next. They said the lifting of the Turkish blockade is one of those points.
That full article can be read online here.

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