NKR: Ten years of cease-fire

Azat Artsakh – Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)
April 16 2004


_Would you recall the details of the events that took place ten years
ago, which ended in the maintenance of cease-fire in the area of the
Karabakh conflict. _ In my opinion, May 1994 and the meeting in
Bishkek was a significant stage in the history of settlement of the
Karabakh conflict. It should be mentioned that certain agreements had
been signed before that on stopping the military actions at the
Azerbaijani _ Karabakh front but as a rule these worked for several
days, a week at best. For the sake of justice we should state that the
cease-fire was violated mainly by the Azerbaijani party; today the
mediators remind about this. In those years the peacemaking process
was carried out by Russia and the CSCE (today the OSCE). The CIS
interparliamentarian summit, the delegates of which regularly visited
Nagorni Karabakh, tried to carry out a rather active mission at the
beginning of the 1990’s. At the beginning of May 1994 the NKR Defence
Army had mainly fulfilled its military and political role; the
military actions were shifted to the territory of the enemy and a
security zone was created around Nagorni Karabakh, which allowed
starting the regulation of the peaceful life in Karabakh. I think, the
suggestion of signing the cease-fire was necessary for Azerbaijan as
well; the Azerbaijani army then had a problem of time and needed `a
rest’. It should also be recalled that an attempt of signing a
cease-fire was made in February 1994 during the meeting of the heads
of the defence ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the
representative of the NKR Defence Army in Moscow, which however was
not a success; the cease-fire was again broken by the Azerbaijanis. _
Would you also give detailed information on the Bishkek meeting? _ At
the end of March and the beginning of April the representatives of the
CIS interparliamentarian summit visited the area of the Karabakh
conflict, headed by one of the most active participants of the
process, the speaker of the parliament of Kirgizia Medetkan
Shirinkulov. On April 15 the meeting of the heads of the CIS
member-countries took place. The meeting passed a resolution calling
the parties of the Karabakh conflict to stop the military actions in a
short period of time and maintain a cease-fire. Later the
interparliamentarian committee undertook more definite actions and at
the beginning of May the delegations of the direct participants of the
conflict Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh were invited to Bishkek. On
May 2 the NKR delegation left Stepanakert. It was headed by the
speaker of the parliament Karen Baburian. The delegation included the
foreign minister then Arkady Ghukassian, the chairman of the
parliamentary committee Valery Balayan, adviser of the head of the
parliament Vassily Atajanian and in the role of assistants Levon
Mayilian and me. For me it was the first meeting in the sense of
participation in this type of meetings and it was a successfully
fulfilled experience. The delegation of Armenia was also constituted
of the members of the government and parliament: the delegation
included the speaker of the parliament then Babken Ararkcian, Seyran
Baghdassarian, Khachik Bezirchian, Petros Katsakhian and others. The
Azerbaijani delegation included the vice speaker of the parliament A.
Jalilov (not alive any more), several members of parliament and
experts. On May 2 all the three delegations arrived in Bishkek. I
should mention with gratitude the hospitality of the Kirgizian party.
On the next day the delegations started their work. There was certain
unease on the first day. In the beginning the president of Kirgizia
Askar Akaev and the head of the CIS interparliamentarian committee
Vladimir Shoumeiko addressed the meeting. A working group was made up
for working out a united document and presenting it to the delegations
to sign. The work of the group was not in vain because the Azerbaijani
party tried in any way to hinder the participation of the Karabakh
delegation in the talks as a separate party. Then long-lasting talks
followed between the heads of the delegations after which the final
text was worked out and presented for signing on May 5. At the last
moment the head of the Azerbaijani delegation refused to sign the
Bishkek protocol (in several days from the Azerbaijani party it was
signed by the speaker of the parliament Rasul Guliev). The Bishkek
agreement signed by all the conflict parties served as basis for the
Russian mediator to achieve the arrangement of the cease-fire which
was brought in effect on May 12 at the Azerbaijani-Karabakh front. _
Recently there has been some anxiety in our society concerning the
expiry of the term of the cease-fire agreement. Do you confirm or you
do not share this anxiety? – The anxiety of our citizens is because
our society is not well-informed on the agreement of cease-fire. The
rumours that the cease-fire agreement signed in the area of the
Karabakh-Azerbaijani conflict will expire in May are merely rumours
and only create additional tension. The cease-fire was maintained ten
years ago and was the result of the agreement reached between Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Karabakh in Bishkek. According to this agreement the
cease-fire came in effect on May 12, 1994, and on May 16 in Moscow the
defence ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorni Karabakh
confirmed the willingness of their countries to maintain the
cease-fire, which works up today. The agreement has no time
limit. Moreover, their devotion to the maintenance of peace was
confirmed in July 1994 when the conflict parties assumed
responsibility before the mediators to maintain the cease-fire up to
signing of a final political agreement by which the military actions
will be finally stopped. In other words an arrangement was made
according to which in case of achieving final peace in the region the
cease-fire agreement is changed to a peace agreement. Again I want to
stress that there is no reason for worry. There are no objective
causes for resuming the military actions. In these ten years the
cease-fire is maintained without international peace-keeping forces
due to the balance maintained between the forces of the conflict
parties. And the efficiency of the Karabakh army allows hoping that
this balance will be maintained henceforth.