Caucasus Reality 13 august — 16:18

American response: For Karabakh - only autonomy (On autumn negotiations)

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BY RAUF KARIMLI, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

So, the talks on Karabakh are intensifying this autumn. As already reported by Azeri Daily, there is information that on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September in New York, a meeting of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is possible. In turn, in Armenia they are also waiting for the resumption of the talks. At the same time, predictions are made that the Americans will try to become more proactive in the Karabakh settlement process, and it is possible that the US will try to take Moscow's place as the most active intermediary in the negotiations. About this, for example, said Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia Ruben Safrastyan.

At the same time, Safrastyan believes that 'in the matter of resolving the Karabakh problem, a possible change of external actors will not be of fundamental importance' (quote from EAdaily). He is sure that neither Moscow nor Washington are interested in the resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, at the same time, the Armenian expert drew attention to the fact that already today Azerbaijan is trying to provide for itself a more favourable environment for negotiations through diplomatic manoeuvres.

In turn, the Yerevan edition of 'Lragir' notes that the scheme of the Karabakh settlement is changing. At the same time, nothing is said about the meeting between the heads of Azerbaijan and Armenia. According to Armenian media, a meeting of foreign ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Edward Nalbandyan is planned for September in New York.

In Armenia, it is expected that the meeting will discuss the withdrawal of snipers from the front line and the placement of special equipment, and in the future - the demilitarisation of the region as a whole. 'Is the United States set on 'coercion' of the parties to some long-term solution to the Karabakh conflict, or at this stage they will consider that it is enough to place equipment and separate the parties to open the region?' asks 'Lragir.'

The author of the publication assures that the former scheme of 'territory in exchange for status' and 'territories in exchange for peace' disappeared, and instead of it a different scheme appeared - 'either strengthening of the ceasefire or expansion of the security zone'. 'And this means that if earlier 'pressure' was applied more to the Armenian side, which was forced to make territorial concessions in exchange for empty promises, now there can be Azerbaijan under pressure who will be persuaded to recognise the status quo.'

In his turn, head of the Armenian Centre for Globalisation and Regional Cooperation Stepan Grigoryan said that the statement of the American Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Richard Hoagland that it is time for the parties to the Karabakh conflict to build confidence measures became a message to Azerbaijan.

According to Grigoryan, when the Azerbaijani side demands the withdrawal of some troops from some territories, this means that there is no talk about the negotiations. 'This is a precondition that does not allow the negotiations to resume. In fact, the Minsk Group at the same time is moving the process in the right direction - you need to restore trust first, and then discuss the issues.'

Stepan Grigoryan rightly believes that the statement of the American co-chair was agreed with Russia. 'I do not think that Russia's position is radically different. Although in a strategic sense, Russia is not prone to a quick settlement. If the contradictions between the US and Russia deepen, at some point this will affect the Karabakh problem,' the expert added.

However, judging by everything, the activation of the US will not work in favour of Armenia. Well-known American diplomat, John Herbst, in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), referring to the future talks in New York, stated literally: 'It is known that the majority of the population of Karabakh are Armenians, and they will have substantial autonomy, and this should serve as the basis for a settlement of relations.' That is, there is no question of any independence of the 'NKR' supported by the US.

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