ASBAREZ ONLINE [05-10-2004]


1) Remembering Shushi Liberation with Calls for Peace
2) Government, Opposition Continue Negotiations
3) Kocharian to Steer Clear of NATO Summit in Istanbul

1) Remembering Shushi Liberation with Calls for Peace

STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)–Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) celebrated
the 1992 liberation of Shushi on May 9, also the Russian holiday Victory Day,
which observes the end of World War II.
In a statement, President Kocharian celebrated the “day of victory and
saying that the day has taken on new meaning since the liberation of Shushi.
“The day symbolizes the adamant will of the people to protect their rights,
guarantee their security, and freedom to develop.”
Kocharian said that the days also correspond to the 10th anniversary of a
ceasefire in Karabagh. “The fruits of this peaceful decade are unmistakable,”
he said, pledging his resolve to settle the conflict peacefully.
MKR President Arkady Ghukasian said that the Shushi operation literally saved
the people of Artsakh from physical elimination, by opening the “road to life”
and to Armenia.
Talking about Shushi’s Liberation and Victory Day, Ghukasian pointed to the
strength of successive generations.
“The current generation continues with the glorious military traditions of
their grandfathers and fathers who demonstrated courage and fearlessness on
battlefield of the World War II. The current generation defended the freedom
and independence of Mountainous Karabagh even when the enemy outnumbered
physically, and outweighed with their military hardware.”
He stressed that while MKR’s defense forces remain the most reliable
of security, vigilance must be maintained at a time when Azerbaijan tries to
reverse history, cherishing hopes for a forcible settlement of the Karabagh
problem. “We should maintain the rate of military construction, equip our army
with up-to-date weapons, and seek to improve fighting skills.”
Ghukasian emphasized, however, that Karabagh’s army is one of peace, with the
fundamental goal of defending MKR and its people against external aggression.
“Be confident; our army is ready at any moment to repulse the enemy if it
dares to breach our peaceful life and infringe on our independence,” he added.
“May the memory of those who were killed for Artsakh’s happy future, live
forever. The duty of those living is not to allow the blood shed by them be in
vain. Long live our military veterans!” Ghukasian said.
Recollecting that a cease-fire agreement was signed 10 year ago, Ghukasian
said that Azerbaijan was forced to recognize Mountainous Karabagh as a
party to
the conflict and sign the truce–exclusively because of the successes of the
Karabagh army.
“Precisely for this reason, our army is also one of the effective guarantors
of maintaining a peaceful settlement with Azerbaijan. I would like to assure
you that, as before, MKR’s leadership is committed to a peaceful settlement of
the Karabagh conflict. There is no alternative.”

2) Government, Opposition Continue Negotiations

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Senior representatives of the Armenian government and the
opposition held another meeting on Monday, without substantive discussions,
agreeing instead on a new format of their talks.
The two sides seem to have discarded a 30-point agenda of their talks
tentatively approved by their leaders last week, instead deciding to upgrade
the status to “negotiations” after the parliamentary leaders of the three
parties of the coalition informed the opposition that they have been
by President Robert Kocharian to discuss possible solutions to Armenia’s
political crisis.
The negotiations between the coalition parties and the Artarutyun (Justice)
and the National Unity Party (AMK) are due to formally get underway on
Thursday, the day before the next opposition rally in Yerevan. The two sides
have to finalize their agenda in the next two days.
Artarutyun and the AMK announced on Tuesday a 10-day suspension of their
campaign of street times to give the authorities time to address those
One of their leaders, Albert Bazeyan, was skeptical on Sunday about chances of
ending the standoff through negotiations.
“The Council of Europe expected the opposition to freeze some processes so
that we could organize discussions with government bodies on ways of bringing
the country out of crisis,” Bazeyan said. “But we see no reciprocal steps by
the authorities and our rallies and marches will most probably resume on
May 14
with much greater vigor.”

3) Kocharian to Steer Clear of NATO Summit in Istanbul

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian will not attend a NATO summit in
Istanbul next month due to the persisting strained relations between Armenia
and Turkey, his chief spokesman said on Monday.
“That has nothing to do with the Armenia-NATO relationship which is currently
on the rise,” the presidential press secretary, Ashot Kocharian, told
reporters, citing Yerevan’s growing involvement in the US-led alliance’s
Partnership for Peace program.
“The president’s non-participation in the work of the summit has more to do
with the current state of Turkish-Armenian relations,” he said. He added that
there has been no “considerable progress” in the US-backed efforts to improve
them in the past year.
President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and French
President Jacques Chirac are among dozens of Western leaders due to attend the
summit in Turkey’s largest city on June 28-29. The leaders of neighboring
Azerbaijan and Georgia, which view NATO membership as a long-term foreign
policy goal, will also attend.
Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations, the establishment of which
Ankara links to a resolution of the Karabagh conflict. Senior officials from
either country have made rare visits to the other over the past decade only to
take part in high-level international meetings. Kocharian, for example,
attended the November 1999 summit in Istanbul of the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe.
Turkey signaled last year its readiness to reopen its border with Armenia
before a Karabagh settlement–a move which would please the United States and
the European Union but would jeopardize its close ties with Azerbaijan. Some
Armenian sources involved in contacts with Turkish officials said earlier this
year that the decision to lift the 11-year blockade might be announced during
the NATO summit; however, Kocharian’s decision not to travel to Istanbul
suggests that the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border is still not on the
Turkish leaders reportedly assured Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev last
month that they will continue to link the normalization of relations with
Armenia to a pro-Azeri solution to the Karabagh dispute. “It is out of the
question for now to reopen the Turkish-Armenian border,” Foreign Minister
Abdullah Gul said afterward.
Gul also called for a trilateral meeting on Karabagh of the Armenian, Azeri,
and Turkish foreign ministers. Turkish diplomatic sources were quoted as
that the meeting could take place on the sidelines of the Istanbul summit.

All subscription inquiries and changes must be made through the proper carrier
and not Asbarez Online. ASBAREZ ONLINE does not transmit address changes and
subscription requests.
(c) 2004 ASBAREZ ONLINE. All Rights Reserved.

ASBAREZ provides this news service to ARMENIAN NEWS NETWORK members for
academic research or personal use only and may not be reproduced in or through
mass media outlets.