Addressing the Armenian parliament yesterday on an official visit, Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma offered his country’s and his personal mediation in the talks to settle the Karabakh conflict. Kuchma invited representatives of "all parties" (Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Karabakh) to Kiev for talks. He noted that Ukraine has become a mediator in the Transdniester conflict, a role reflecting Ukraine’s rising international standing. (Interfax-Ukraine, May 15)
The offer follows, and implicitly competes with, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov’s attempt last week to overcome the deadlock in the Karabakh talks. Primakov’s shuttle diplomacy yielded an exchange of prisoners without political results, failing to upstage the OSCE negotiating forum of which Russia is itself a cochairman. Kiev’s offer has better chances of going down well in Baku than in Yerevan. On the eve of Kuchma’s visit to Armenia, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry reaffirmed its unambiguous support for upholding the territorial integrity of states and existing borders concurrently with guarantees for ethnic rights in settling the Karabakh conflict — a position close to that of Azerbaijan.
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