Friday, July 15, 2005

Karabakh Update

Associated Press (AP) reports that while there is some ground for "cautious optimism" in the latest attempt to resolve the frozen conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed mainly-Armenian populated territory of Nagorno Karabakh, the Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group is less so.
Yuri Merzlyakov, speaking late Wednesday after meeting with officials in Nagorno-Karabakh, said that "the two sides are still very far from reaching an agreement to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

Russian, French and U.S. envoys from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are trying find a solution to the dispute over the mountainous region, which was seized by ethnic Armenian forces in a war with Azerbaijan in the 1990s.


The international community has become increasingly keen to reduce tensions in this part of the former Soviet Union as energy-rich Azerbaijan and other countries in the region have exploited vast reserves of oil around the Caspian Sea.

About 1 million people were displaced by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and their resettlement as well as the future status of the territory are among the major issues to be resolved.
Nevertheless, something seems to be different this time round when compared to the mood that what evident at the time of Key West in 2001. Even so, however, while Armenia talks of the need to make "painful concessions for peace," the situation is not the same, especially with parliamentary elections on the horizon in November.

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, having already visited Baku and Stepanakert, are due to meet with the Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, and Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian, today and will also hold a press conference. I think that we'll know more then.

Certainly, it would appear that the two sides are closer than they've ever been to establishing the framework and terms of reference for a negotiated peace but on the other hand, there are still many obstacles to overcome.

AP's report can be read online here.

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