A NATO organized conference in Azerbaijan’s
capital was interrupted Tuesday when several Azeri
nationalists stormed the session hall of the hotel
where the meeting was taking place in protest
of the presence of the Armenian delegation.
The activists of Karabakh Liberation organization (KLO) broke the police cordon and the glass door of the Europe hotel and burst into a conference hall demanding the extradition of Armenians from Azerbaijan.
President spoke in Strasbourg.
“You are sharing this hall with Armenian officers, aggressors and terrorists. No one had the right to invite them to Baku and if they have dignity, they have to leave Azerbaijan,” declared one of the KLO members.
According to “ Baku” online the Azeri police detained more than 12 people, including the OKL chairman.
Earlier on Monday, around 100 members of KLO had marched on Baku streets and in front of Europe hotel chanting “NATO without Armenia” and “Shame to negotiators”. “Our goal is to make Armenians leave Baku,” said one of the activists.
The Ministry of Defense of Armenia expressed its deep concern over the incident in Baku.
“We think the host country must be responsible for organization of the measures of such high level and for providing security to its participants,” says the statement of the ministry. It also says that the Azerbaijani police and the U.S. embassy in Baku are taking additional security measures.
The three-day conference was held in Baku within NATO’s Cooperative Best Efforts-2004 exercises within Partnership for Peace program scheduled to be held in Azerbaijan this fall. It was attended by 10 countries of the Alliance and 409 representatives of the 11 NATO partner states.
Two Armenian officers, Colonel Murad Isakhanyan and Senior Lieutenant Aram Hovanisyan arrived to Baku through Tbilisi, Georgia on June 21, after the Azeri Defense Ministry has agreed to ensure their security.
The statement of Azeri Foreign Ministry said “ Azerbaijan’s developing relations with NATO should not be hostage to the country’s relations with Armenia”. The statement also said that Armenians have to “see Azerbaijan’s achievements and understand what kind of crisis Armenia has created for itself and see what people have gained and lost.”
The Azerbaijani embassy in Georgia announced earlier that it had no intention of issuing visas to the Armenian officers. Ambassador Ramiz Hasanov said that that there is not diplomatic relations between the two countries
Previous NATO Partnership for Peace exercises were held in 2002 in Georgia and in 2003 in Armenia; however the Azerbaijani delegation did not attend the program in Yerevan.
Last January the Armenian officers attempted to attend the “Cooperative Best Effort-2004” military training exercises in Baku, but were not granted entry into Azerbaijan. As a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Armenia was among counties to participate in training exercises in Baku.. “We did what NATO dictated as they were organizers,” said Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian. “Contrary to the promises made, NATO, in fact didn’t succeed to oblige Azerbaijan to receive Armenian officers.”
This Monday Oskanian met his Azeri counterpart in Prague to discuss the possibilities of a Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement. The meeting took place under the aegis and participation of the OSCE Minsk group, however no details of the meeting were reported as it was closed to the public and media.
Armenian President Robert Kocharyan speaking Wednesday about the Karabakh conflict at the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe in Strasbourg said that Karabakh has never been part of independent Azerbaijan. The President said that the 1992-1994 war was launched by the Azeri side which attempted to implement ethnic cleansing of Armenians from the territory.
“It is for 16 years that Karabakh has a history of independence. An entire generation grew up there that cannot think of any other status of independence,” the president said, adding that Armenia insists on direct participation of Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiations.