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2006-03-01 11:08:00
Embassy Yerevan
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 YEREVAN 000294 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2016



C. C) MOSCOW 01934

Classified By: Amb. John M. Evans, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a private discussion February 28 with the
Ambassador, President Kocharian did not rule out further
talks on Nagorno-Karabakh, but dilated at some length on why
he believed Rambouillet had been doomed to failure from the
outset, and why he did not believe that Azeri President
Aliyev was seriously seeking a negotiated solution. END

2. (C) President Kocharian said he had received an invitation
from MCC President John Danilovich to visit Washington and
attend the signing of the MCA Compact on March 27, but added
that he had no plans to do so.

3. (C) Kocharian crabbed that, although the signing was an
important event, he saw no point in going all that distance
in order to stand by and watch the MCA Compact be signed by
others. He added that another reason not to travel to
Washington was that he did not want to be drawn into a
fruitless discussion of Nagorno-Karabakh. He then proceeded
to discuss, at some length, the recent meeting at Rambouillet.

4. (C) Kocharian admitted he had had a sense even before
heading for Paris that there really was nothing to discuss.
He said he appreciated the efforts of the co-chairs and of
President Chirac, with whom he said he had a good
relationship, but he thought that all of them had worked
themselves up into more of a frenzy than was warranted.

5. (C) As an example, Kocharian described Chirac wringing his
hands over problems that he reported President Aliyev had
with the term "referendum." Kocharian told Chirac that that
was Aliyev's problem, not his. If the Azerbaijan
Constitution needed to be altered, there were only six
oppositionists in the Majles, and it could be amended.

6. (C) Kocharian related that he had gone into the one-on-one
with President Aliyev with a basic question for him: "are you
here to make an agreement, or are we just going to pretend to
negotiate?" Note: the two presidents are evidently on
familiar terms, "na ty."

7. (C) Although he acceded to the French co-chair's
entreaties to stay for the second day in Rambouillet,
Kocharian said he thought it had been a waste of time. He
saw no point in talks that went over the same ground time and
again. While progress had been registered at Kazan,
Kocharian now doubted whether President Aliyev was sincere
about a settlement. On the one hand, he had been sending
signals of flexibility to the co-chairs and others, yet he
was forever making statements for domestic consumption about
how "time was on Azerbaijan's side," and "our patience is not
unlimited, etc." Were these the statements of someone who
really wanted to conclude a settlement?

8. (C) Kocharian said he thought Aliyev did not really know
his own heart on the matter. He recalled that he had once
known a man who was cheating egregiously on his wife, but at
the same time, showering her with gifts because he had a bad
conscience about his affair. In Kocharian's view, President
Aliyev was similarly torn. Aliyev, he said, did not want to
shoulder an iota of responsibility for a Karabakh settlement
unless it was a total victory for Azerbaijan, although he
(Aliyev) was in a much stronger position politically than he
(Kocharian) was. Kocharian thought it was in Aliyev's
character not to stick to agreements, and illustrated this
step-forward, step-back behavior using his hands.

9. (C) Returning to Rambouillet and the talks, Kocharian
claimed that nearly all the material on the table at Paris
had been proposed by the Armenian side one and one-half years
ago, when the Prague process started. The Armenian position
was clear and straight-forward, and if the other side wanted
an agreement, it was still possible. The connection between
Kelbajar and the referendum on Nagorno-Karabakh's future
status was an entirely "normal" element to have in such an
agreement. Whether the vote would take place in three years
or five years could be discussed, but it seemed clear to
Kocharian that his Azeri counterpart was aiming at ensuring
that there never would be such a vote.

10. (C) Asked about the recent call from President Putin,
Kocharian confirmed that it had taken place on February 24.
The Russian President had asked whether the Armenian position
had changed. Kocharian explained the situation, and how, in
his view, nothing had really changed. Kocharian said that
Putin did not press for an urgent meeting.

11. (C) When the Ambassador ventured that just having a
negotiating process underway was probably stabilizing,
Kocharian did not disagree, but he did repeat that he saw no
point in "pretending to negotiate." He added that if he and
Aliyev had been able to reach a deal on the basis of Kazan,
they would have immediatelly have gotten into talks about the
details of what had to happen next -- and he suspected that
at every turn there waould have been attempts by President
Aliyev to find new obstacles. Still, Kocharian did not rule
out continuing the negotiating process at some point.

12. COMMENT: Kocharian is blunt and does not mince words.
This characteristic was on display today, and we apologize to
our gentle readers in Baku and Washington for not filtering
this out. Although there may be a way to get the process
restarted, it almost surely will require efforts by the
foreign ministers. Kocharian is not, in our view, in any
mood to return to the table right now. END COMMENT