All ways of conflict settlement lead to Stepanakert

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


– Mr. Baburian, recently the discussion of the Karabakh conflict by
the European organizations on the plane of a territorial dispute
between Armenia and Azerbaijan has become evident. Whereas not very
long ago the same organizations considered the proclamation of
independence of Nagorni Karabakh the result of the collapse of the
Soviet Union. Which is the cause, in your opinion, for change of
approach. – In fact there were changes in approaches. I mean the
changes extended recently by the representatives of the Council of
Europe and the PACE. This is apparently connected with the fact that
the Karabakh conflict should be dealt with seriously. The OSCE Minsk
Group, which has been dealing with the problem for a long time,
already has its clear-cut approaches. It is doubtless for the Minsk
Group co-chairmen and it is accepted unambiguously that Nagorni
Karabakh is a conflict party. We should say that the same
Europarliament in March 1999 adopted a resolution where it is
directly stated that in September 1991 after the collapse of the USSR
the Autonomous Region of Nagorni Karabakh declared its independence
after the similar declarations of the former soviet socialist
republics. In my opinion the reason for the mentioned changes are
determined by the fact that formerly the Europarliament, the former
parliamentarians were attentive to the Karabakh conflict. Still in
June 1994 the NKR parliamentary delegation left for Strasbourg by the
invitation of the secretary chief of the Council of Europe to take
part in the discussion of the Karabakh conflict organized by the
commission on relations with non-member countries. In December 1998
at the discussion of the Karabakh conflict by the PACE political
committee in Paris the president of the republic Arkady Ghukassian
stated our approach in his speech, despite the fact that the
Azerbaijani party tried to prevent the participation of the NKR
delegation through putting pressure on the PACE in the form of an
ultimatum. However, the PACE showed fidelity to its principles and
did not refuse the former arrangement. That is to say, if formerly
the PACE made certain decisions, by all means met with the conflict
party, including Nagorni Karabakh. And this was, in my opinion, a
normal practice. Unfortunately, recently they have been deviating
from this principle. The representatives of the European
organizations often make hasty conclusions not having visited
Stepanakert and met with the main party of the conflict. For example,
the PACE reporteur on Nagorni Karabakh Terry Davis, who recently has
visited NKR, confessed that the meetings with the government of the
republic, the ordinary citizens were very important for him and
provided him with necessary and useful information for the report.
The second reason, in my opinion, is that the question of providing
materials is not accorded with the Armenian society. After the
meetings with Terry Davis I had the impression that this honourable
parliamentarian does not have a clear idea of what we the people of
Karabakh want. Mr. Davis put it directly that if the Azerbaijanis
state unambiguously that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, the Armenian
society has two opinions: either Karabakh is part of Armenia or it is
a separate republic fighting for its independence. To some extent I
understand the concern of the PACE reporteur. It is time that the
Armenians clarify their approach to the problem and bring forth a
united opinion. I think that controversies in this important issue of
national significance are impermissible. Our enemy skillfully makes
use of this, and we must confess that they have managed to shift the
problem of self-determination of Nagorni Karabakh to the plane of
encroachment of Armenia on the territory of Azerbaijan. That is why I
think that the determination of the people of Nagorni Karabakh
expressed by the referendum of December 1991 for independence should
be honoured, including in Armenia, as the only real way in modern
conditions. Besides, all the parts of the Armenian nations, Armenia,
the Diaspora and Nagorni Karabakh must make their rights and duties
in reference to the conflict settlement distinct. Because of not
being recognized de jure NKR is not represented in international
organizations and therefore the opportunities for expressing its
opinion are limited. In its turn the Diaspora must unite its efforts
to defend the interests of NKR. And for the fate of the settlement
the main responsibility must belong to Nagorni Karabakh as the main
conflict party, and the NKR government has a number of times
announced about their willingness to start negotiations with
Azerbaijan for the final solution of the conflict without any
preconditions. – What is the opinion of the NKR government in
reference to the suggestions which provide liberation of the
territories occupied by the Karabakh party in the initial stage? As
it is known, these found their reflection in the report of the
Europarliament reporteur on the South Caucasus Pierre Garton. The
latter set forth the idea of opening the Baku-Nakhijevan-Yerevan
railway for liberation of five regions. – This suggestion may be the
evidence of what was mentioned above, the not so sensible steps of
the representatives of the international organizations which set
forth this or that idea without the knowledge of the essence of the
subject. The concerning fact is that Pierre Garton could express such
an idea without being to Nagorni Karabakh. It is absurd to offer to
return five regions to Azerbaijan and instead open the railway to
Nakhijevan again for Azerbaijan. The question occurs what is in
favour of Nagorni Karabakh? Nothing. Moreover, as a result Nagorni
Karabakh is deprived of the security zone and the possibility of
undergoing bombing by Azerbaijan increases as it happened during the
years of war. The problem of territories is directly connected with
the problem of security of the population. This, as well as the
problem of refugees are essential to the settlement of the conflict
and should not be considered separately from the package solution.
The Karabakh party in the face of the president of the republic has
for a number of times announced about this, and this approach is
well-grounded, because the security of Nagorni Karabakh and the
people living there is concerned. Fortunately, the European
parliament seems to have realized that this suggestion is unreal and
absurd and this formulation has been withdrawn from the report of
Pierre Garton. We may state that sound reason has overwhelmed.
However, it should be noted that even if the idea of the
Europarliamentarian was born with the consideration of achieving
peace in the region, its results were negative. It radicalized public
opinion in Nagorni Karabakh. Several members of our parliament, in
answer to the suggestion of Garton, even proposed passing a
corresponding law and maintaining in it that the mentioned
territories are under the control of NKR and are an important and
indivisible element of the security of our country. Another group of
members of parliament even offered to maintain this principle in the
future constitution of NKR. – Such pro-Azerbaijani suggestions also
radicalize the approach of official Baku, too which, actually,
excludes any compromises and offers and demands starting the
negotiation process from the very beginning. – Yes, the president of
Azerbaijan certainly refused the former arrangements achieved by
Aliev Senior and announced the intention of Azerbaijan to start
negotiations from zero. It should be emphasized that there is no such
understanding as zero in politics. Zero is a popular expression in
casinos whereas here we are concerned with absolutely important
things, the fate of nations (Armenian or Azerbaijani). Suggesting
starting from zero Ilham Aliev actually buried all the positive that
was achieved under his father. Anyway, we would like to know what
Ilham Aliev means when saying zero. Which is the starting point, 1988
when the present stage of the Karabakh national liberation movement
started, 1992 when the OSCE Minsk Group was formed within the
framework of which the conflict settlement is carried out? Or maybe
it is more logical to return to the year 1918 when for the first time
Azerbaijan appeared on the political map, and to which Nagorni
Karabakh did not belong at all. Besides, when announcing about
starting from zero consistency should be kept and not repeat about
the return of territories and refugees all the time. In brief, it is
obvious that the approach of the new Azerbaijani government is absurd
and inconsistent and has no prospects. In my opinion, the reason for
this is that Ilham Aliev does not possess the charisma of his father
and apparently does not have enough power to make inevitable
compromises in the process of conflict settlement. Therefore in the
beginning he set forth an inadmissible and unreal scheme of
negotiations to take his time. – However, the propaganda machine of
Azerbaijan seems not to need to stop awhile. – In fact, the
anti-Armenian propaganda in this country does not stop. Today we may
even speak about hysteria of propaganda which does not favour in any
way the maintenance of an atmosphere of trust between the parties,
which is so very important to the settlement of the conflict. The
murder of the Armenian officer in Budapest by his Azerbaijani
colleague is but the logical result of the anti-Armenian hysteria of
the Azerbaijani authorities. This cruel crime proved once again that
the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians have nothing in common. I do not
state that thinking in Azerbaijan is on the level of the stone age
but that an axe still serves as a means of international
communication and that the security of the officer of the RA armed
forces is not guaranteed even within the framework of such a powerful
organization as NATO reveals the impossibility of protection of
rights of the Armenians of Artsakh within the framework of a common
statehood with Azerbaijan. It is terrible that in this country they
not only attempt at justifying him but even try to render him a
national hero. Whereas as distinct from the Azerbaijani army our
armed forces are aware of what is honour and dignity and therefore
are used to solving problems in open field and not stealthily. In
this reference I would like to mention that the wish of Nagorni
Karabakh to integrate with European organizations is based on the
traditions of many centuries. The evidence to this are the numerous
monuments of the Christian culture, the spirituality of our nation
which thinks and creates in a way close to the European ways and
which has had a great contribution to the European culture. The
people of Karabakh are brought up by the European spirit, the spirit
of world classical creations. It is not a secret that by the level of
democratic development Nagorni Karabakh is ahead of Azerbaijan and
this is not only my opinion. This fact was maintained by a number of
famous international organizations, including the international
federation on human rights, the USA State Department, other
organizations in the USA. The American organization “Freedom House”
characterized Azerbaijan as a non-free state where the basic human
rights are absent and the civil freedoms are regularly violated.
These facts give rise to the logical question: how is it possible to
demand returning Nagorni Karabakh to Azerbaijan, a country where the
form of power is hereditary monarchy, where even the rights and
freedoms of the Azerbaijanis are not protected, where anti-Armenian
ideology is raised up to the level of a state policy and the criminal
murdering of the Armenian officer within the framework of the NATO
program “Partnership for Peace” is declared a national hero?