Matthew Bryza: I felt that willingness to reconcile a bit more this time than I had in the past – EXCLUSIVE

Matthew Bryza: I felt that willingness to reconcile a bit more this time than I had in the past <font color=red>– EXCLUSIVE </font>
# 25 January 2008 11:45 (UTC +04:00)
American co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group Matthew Bryza’s interview to APA

-What were your impressions of the recent visit to the region, as one of the co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group? What is attitude of the presidents to the Madrid plan? Could we make one step forward in the negotiations process?
- I think that we did made one step forward during visiting Baku, Yerevan and Khankendi. We were successful in convincing the idea that the presidents said that they need to continue the negotiations on this Madrid paper right through the elections for Armenia’s next president. Before we begin the ship we were concerned whether or not this paper will survive, whether or not the new president of Armenia will want to begin the whole process from scratch. But I can say now that all leading candidates for the president of Armenia will wish to continue the negations on the basic principles paper. That is good news. The nature of discussion with two presidents, president Aliyev and president Kocharyan was to hear their reaction to this paper that we submitted in Madrid and to address whatever concern they may have with regard to slightly new formulations of various concepts in the basic principles paper. And that we did. We respect those views. In some cases, the two presidents have very similar concerns. And now we will make some minor changes in the paper to reflect the concerns of the presidents. The process continues. For the last three years, we have been negotiating on the basic principles of co-chairs. Before the Madrid ministerial meeting of OSCE, we co-chairs improved the paper that had been the result for the negotiations process for couple of years. We made it a bit sharper; we streamlined language and some cases that led to changes in the phrasing that presidents did not fully understand and so had to explain those.
- How many components does this plan have? Does it include the referendum in Nagorno Karabakh, deployment of international peacekeeping forces, replacement of refuges, etc?
- The basic principles have been divulged in the past. I discussed them a couple of years ago in June of 2006, the International Crisis Group also just published a report which talked about the basic principles. So people know what those concepts are. I would rather not comment on specifics of the Madrid documents except to say that it is the document which defines the basic principles. And there is one more point. Nobody has agreed on any of the individual basic principles without anticipating that it will be a package agreement. In the other words, no single element of the basic principles is agreed until all of the basic principles are agreed between the parties. So it would not be accurate to say that for example, that one side is agreed to redeploy its forces, other side is agreed to referendum. Nothing is agreed till everything is agreed.
- You visited the line of contact for the first time. What are your impressions?
- I knew what you expect in Aghdam. But as human being it is impossible to appreciate the human cost something like Aghdam until you see it with your own eyes. President Aliyev himself described that view when he the next day was in the other side of the line of contact looking into Aghdam with binoculars. It is powerful and tragic to see so many building destroyed. The good news is that when we spoke to the defector leaders in Khankendi there is also appreciation for the horrible human cost of the conflict and desire to avoid ever having to go through this again and real desire to reconcile with their neighbors across the line of contact. I felt that willingness to reconcile a bit more this time that I had in the past. This trip to the line of contact through Aghdam enforced like no book or picture, I can ever see or read, reinforced my own mine about the terrible human consequences of this conflict and we have to do everything possible to make sure that all injustices are rectify and there is never such conflict. There is a lot of very aggressive rhetoric comes from the leadership of the government of Azerbaijan. But I interpret this rhetoric as basically saying we plan to and trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement and the same time we will use all our leverage possible to negotiate the best settlement possible. So I feel the desire in both sides to reconcile and to reach the agreement. That said there is a lot of anger, a lot of negative emotions still out there as well, which I feel quite powerfully. I think the president Aliyev recognizes that the absence of settlement increase the chances of resumption of the conflict. But I see that both sides are committed to the peaceful solution of the conflict. I would say it is very important for both sides to avoid rhetoric that is humiliating to the other side.
- International Crisis Group stated that war may start in 2012 again. What is your opinion of this statement? Do you believe in the real threat of war?
- I actually believe that this part of report was based on lack of familiarity with the facts. It is simply not accurate to say that after 2012 Azerbaijan’s oil revenues will decrease. Whoever wrote this part of report is unaware of the fact that at this point, around 2012-2015 Azerbaijani natural gas production will expand dramatically and energy revenues will remain high. So I think that it is misjudgment. I don’t understand why even it works through that energy revenues will decrease after 2012, why it will led to escalation of the conflict. It seems to me very speculative conclusion and it doesn’t hold up. And at this case that conclusion is not fact because energy revenues will increase after 2012.
- 2008 is not only the year of presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also in the USA. Some of the U.S. presidential candidates clearly say that they will recognize the so called Armenian genocide. Do you believe that such statements may damage US-Turkey relations?
- I believe that our policy under the president Bush is what it is. I can only speak for that policy. I have no idea what the policy of the next president will be with regard to Turkey and events of 1915. What I can say is that the event of 1915 was enormous tragedy and they resulted in a horrible human suffering and we pray that such suffering will never return. But we believe that there should not be a political decision taking in the basis of the vote in anyone’s parliament over how to describe those events of enormous human significance. So that is our policy. I would hope that our relations, relations of Turkey and the USA are based on such strongly shared values and shared interests that any president will continue the strong path of cooperation that characterizes the U.S.-Turkey relations and which we work hard to establish. /APA/
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