The BBC has broadcast Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev’s interview with the radio’s Yerevan correspondent–the first interview granted to an Armenian journalist by Aliev since the beginning of the Karabakh conflict. Asked about the Azerbaijani opposition’s calls to overcome the diplomatic deadlock by using military force in Karabakh, Aliev stated that “the opposition’s opinion is not mine” and that “a military solution is madness.” He offered personally to work with Armenia’s new president, Robert Kocharian, “for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.” However, Aliev only offered Karabakh autonomy within Azerbaijan, on the model of Finland’s Aaland Islands or of Spain’s regions–apparently a reference to Catalonia. (Groong, July 14)
The offer of regional autonomy offer is unacceptable to the Armenian side. The Azerbaijani opposition, however, offers even less–namely, cultural autonomy for Karabakh’s Armenian population. The opposition describes Aliev’s qualified acceptance of the OSCE’s settlement plan–based essentially on regional autonomy–as treason and as irreconcilable with Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
HUSEINOV GOES ON TRIAL IN BAKU.