The three OSCE mediators’ proposals for settling the Karabakh conflict have received preliminary approval from both Armenia and Karabakh. Sharply departing from the mediators’ previous approach, the new proposals include the Russian Foreign Ministry’s concept of a “common state” to be created by Karabakh and Azerbaijan through negotiations. This and other parts of the new set of proposals are supported by two mediators–the Russian and the French–apparently against the views of the U.S. mediator (see the Monitor, November 12).
The mediating trio held talks in Yerevan and Stepanakert on November 11 and 12. In their initial responses, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian and Karabakh President Arkady Gukasian noted with satisfaction that the new proposals:
–choose the “package approach” rather than the “stage by stage” approach
–envisage direct negotiations between Azerbaijan and Karabakh as coequal parties; pose no “preliminary conditions” (that is, do not postulate Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity) and
–introduce “unconventional elements” necessary, in the Armenian view, in order to overcome the contradiction between the territorial integrity principle and the national self-determination principle (Noyan-Tapan, November 11, 12).
Armenia and Karabakh have long demanded precisely these changes to the mediators’ approach. Baku, Yerevan and Stepanakert are now supposed to present their official responses in writing. Their initial, informal reactions suggest that Baku will turn down and Yerevan and Stepanakert will broadly accept the new conditions. The OSCE year-end meeting may witness sharp controversy over these terms.
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