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03THEHAGUE2573 2003-10-07 15:08:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002573 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2013

Classified By: Political Counselor Mary E. Daly for reasons 1.5 (b and

1. (C) Summary: In Paris October 2, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs
held separate discussions with the Armenian and Azerbaijani
foreign ministers, urging the two sides to quickly arrange
meetings between the two presidents and announcing their
desire to visit the region soon after the Azeri elections.
FM Oskanian welcomed the Co-Chairs at any time, while
Azerbaijani FM Guliyev tentatively suggested early November
depending on the outcome of the elections. Guliyev was
unable to commit to an early meeting of the presidents. The
Co-Chairs also briefed OSCE CiO de Hoop Scheffer September 30
in the Hague on the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations,
emphasizing the need for compromise by all parties and the
importance of rapidly restarting talks stalled by
presidential elections. The Co-Chairs recommended de Hoop
Scheffer press the new Azeri president to initiate contact
during his late October visit. End Summary.

Meeting with the Chairman in Office

2.(C) The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, accompanied by
Russian First Deputy Foreign
Minister Trubnikov, briefed OSCE CiO de Hoop Scheffer
September 30 on the current state of the Nagorno-Karabakh
negotiations. The Co-Chairs welcomed de Hoop Scheffer's
recently announced decision to visit the region Oct. 29-30
(subsequently revised to Oct. 21 and 22), and urged him to
press PM (and presumed President) Ilham Aliyev rapidly to
restart negotiations with Armenia. They also stressed the
need for the CiO to convince the Armenian government to take
advantage of the post-election period in both Armenia and
Azerbaijan by negotiating quietly and seriously. The
Co-Chairs emphasized that no deus ex machina existed in the
conflict--both sides need to make difficult compromises, and
time is not/not on either side.

3.(C) OSCE CiO de Hoop Scheffer posed several questions
relating to how the Azeri elections Oct. 15 would impact the
peace process. The Co-Chairs emphasized the two presidential
campaigns had almost stopped progress during the previous
year. They noted that Azeri frustration with a perceived
lack of progress in the negotiations could lead to an
increasing level of violence along the line of contact. The
Co-Chairs stressed they themselves were also frustrated by
the cancellation of four planned visits to the region by one
or the other side. They were cautious in discussing new
proposals for the N.K. peace process, and wary of raising
expectations too high. They pointed out that both sides are
searching for "new ideas" providing magical solutions
requiring neither compromise nor sacrifice. Ambassador
Perina noted that the Co-Chairs do have some new ideas and
approaches to discuss with both sides, but that the essential
element for a settlement is the willingness of both sides to
show flexibility and compromise. DFM Trubnikov urged de Hoop
Scheffer to push the Azerbaijani side, post-election, to take
the first step in restarting the peace process. Trubnikov
argued that the Armenian side would be waiting until after
the election for a signal from Azerbaijan to move forward.

Meetings with Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers

4.(C) On October 2, the Co-Chairs held separate meetings in
Paris with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers.
Their message to both ministers was similar: the Co-Chairs
hoped to visit the region as soon as possible after the
Azerbaijani elections where they will encourage both
presidents to have an early meeting and offer to help
facilitate such a meeting if the presidents agree. They
would also suggest some new ideas and approaches for the
presidents to discuss but present no formal new proposals at
this time. The Co-Chairs stressed that an important window
of opportunity would open with new mandates for both
presidents and a new president on the Azerbaijani side. It
was important to take advantage of this opportunity and not
lose it through delay, tactical gamesmanship, or actions
which might further damage the atmosphere between the two
sides and make progress even more difficult. The Co-Chairs
also gave each minister a suggested text concerning the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for use at the OSCE Maastricht
Ministerial in December and asked that they provide their
views at an early point so that a text can be agreed prior to
the ministerial meeting itself.

5.(C) Armenian FM Oskanian assured the Co-Chairs that Armenia
was anxious to resume peace negotiations and that they would
be welcome in Yerevan at any time. On the question of an
early meeting between President Kocharian and the future
Azerbaijani president, Oskanian said he was virtually certain
that Kocharian would agree, and undertook to secure
Kocharian's agreement within a week. Oskanian urged the
Co-Chairs to try and convince the new Azerbaijani president
to resume negotiations at the point at which they had been
suspended, or at least to take the experience of the last ten
years of negotiations into account, rather than seeking to
begin talks from a blank state.

6.(C) Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Guliyev stressed that he
was constrained in responding to the Co-Chairs, since the
question of who would be president was still undecided and he
did not know if he would still be foreign minister in a few
weeks. Nonetheless, he said that he assumed the new
president would want an early meeting with the Co-Chairs, and
suggested that they tentatively plan to visit Baku sometime
between November 5 and 10. As regards an early meeting
between the new president and Kocharian, Guliyev said that
Kocharian enjoyed an advantage by already having a government
in place, while the new Azerbaijani president would need time
to assemble his cabinet and formulate policy. An early
meeting might be possible, but he (Guliyev) could make no
promises on this. On the substance of the peace process,
Guliyev said only that experience had shown that the Armenian
wish for a comprehensive settlement was impossible, and that
any successful settlement had to respect Azerbaijani
territorial integrity and be based on a step-by-step

7.(C) While Oskanian was for understandable reasons more
receptive to an early meeting between the two presidents than
Guliyev, he admitted that such a meeting might be strained
and difficult particularly if -- as is most likely -- the
Azerbaijani president-elect is Ilham Aliyev. Oskanian said
that Kocharian and Ilham have had no prior bilateral meetings
and have seen one another only at multilateral gatherings.
At the recent CIS Summit in Yalta, which Aliyev attended in
his capacity as Prime Minister, the two men had an
inauspicious encounter. According to Oskanian (please
protect), Aliyev objected to some changes requested by
Shevardnadze to a text concerning Georgia. Kocharian then
took issue with Aliyev, telling him in front of other leaders
that it was the custom at CIS meetings to let each president
have the final word on texts concerning that president's
country. Aliyev dropped the matter but may well have felt
embarrassed by the exchange.

8.(U) Ambassador Perina has cleared this cable.