National Citizens’ Initiative Considers Karabagh Conflict

The National Citizens’ Initiative
75 Yerznkian Street
Yerevan 375033, Armenia
Tel: (+374 – 1) 27.16.00, 27.00.03
Fax: (+374 – 1) 52.48.46
E-mail: [email protected]

June 10, 2004

National Citizens’ Initiative Considers Karabagh Conflict

Yerevan — The National Citizens’ Initiative (NCI) today convened a
specialized policy meeting on “Resolving Karabagh: The Current Stage
of the Search.” In view of a history rich in diverse approaches and
scenarios, negotiations in various formats, and peace prospects and
inclinations, the roundtable brought together competent policy makers,
public figures, relevant experts, and academic circles, together with
representatives of the mass media and NGO communities, to examine
conflict resolution and its peculiarities in the Karabagh case.

What does the decade-old cease-fire promise, is a mutually acceptable
solution feasible in the foreseeable future, do the authorities
representing Armenian national interests enjoy a broad public mandate
in and for peace talks, might an unfavorable arrangement be imposed
on the Armenians? These and other issues critical to the future of
Karabagh and the entire Armenian nation forged the day’s agenda.

Raffi Hovannisian, founder of NCI and the Armenian Center for National
and International Studies (ACNIS), opened the discussion. “The
nationwide quest for Artsakh and its liberty has come to symbolize
a broader commitment to Armenia’s sovereignty, democracy, and vital
interests. To what extent, over the past 16 years, have we remained
faithful to and worthy of these high concepts, widely shared precepts,
and our fallen compatriots?,” he queried.

“We assemble today to contemplate the political, strategic, diplomatic,
and legal components of Artsakh’s struggle. As always, we will endeavor
to assess conflict and its resolution through the tri-prism of state,
nation, and citizen and in light of the permanent challenges of
identity and security,” Hovannisian said.

In a paper on “The Karabagh Challenge: Deadlock or New Departure
Point?,” Karabagh presidential adviser Manvel Sargsian focused on
the changes in approach to the Karabagh conflict which have created a
new situation characterized by the unprecedented activity of European
structures. “The European organizations that have taken the initiative
from the OSCE Minsk Group seek to find a solution based on humanitarian
approaches such as human rights and legitimacy,” he maintained.

General Arkadiy Ter-Tadevosian, chairman of the Armenian Defense-Sport
Association, covered regional stability and security in his address
on “Military Balance as the Principal Guarantee for Peace in the
Region.” “To preserve the equilibrium, we need not only to enhance
the combat-readiness and mobility of the armed forces to correspond
to 21st-century benchmarks, but also to strengthen bilateral
politico-military cooperation with all friendly countries, actively
cooperating at the same time within the multilateral frameworks of
the CIS and NATO’s Partnership for Peace
program,” the general summarized.

The first session concluded with an intervention by Aram G. Sargsian,
former adviser to the Armenian president and current member of the
Armenian parliament’s Standing Commission on Foreign Affairs, on “The
Evolution of Scenarios for Regulation of the Karabagh Conflict.” He
opined that Armenia should officially recognize the legal authenticity
of the documents adopted by Mountainous Karabagh in its secession
from Soviet Azerbaijan. “The solution should be moved to the arena of
international law, and a legal case obviating Azerbaijani arguments
presented, as political solutions lead to gridlock,” he asserted.

Law and philosophy professor Alexander Manasian addressed “The
Legal Foundations for Solving the Karabagh Question” to open the
afternoon session. The Karabagh problem should not be an object of
political speculations, he stated. It should instead be under constant
state guidance for the working out of a clear-cut and comprehensive
program. “Though our position is considerably strong from the viewpoint
of international law, it is the Azerbaijani party that always acts as
winner on the diplomatic and propaganda fronts, since we lag behind
in anti-propaganda activities for want of an integrated conception
of general approaches to the problem.”

Armen Aghayan, political secretary of the “Protection of Liberated
Territories” public organization, offered a special comment on the
Arax River area as a matter pivotal for conflict resolution in and
around Karabagh. “A successful outcome of the issue’s solution turns
on which party will supervise the four regions adjacent to the Arax.”

The remainder of the session was devoted to exchanges of views and
policy recommendations among the public figures and policy specialists
in attendance. Noteworthy were interventions by former prime minister
Khosrov Haroutiunian of the Christian Democratic Union; Hovhannes
Hovhannisian of the Liberal Progressive Party; former defense minister
Vazgen Manoukian of the National Democratic Union; Grigor Haroutiunian
and Ruzanna Khachatrian of the People’s Party of Armenia; Shavarsh
Kocharian of the National Democratic Party; former minister of state
Hrach Hakobian; Colonel Gegham Haroutiunian of the Republic Party;
Giro Manoyan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation; Mushegh Lalayan
of the Republican Party; Petros Makeyan of the Democratic Fatherland
Party; former presidential adviser Levon Zourabian; Vardan Khachatrian,
theology professor at Yerevan State University; YSU international
affairs lecturer Aram Haroutiunian; Tamar Gevorgian of the United
Labor Party; American University international relations professor
Khachik Derghoukassian; and many others.

ACNIS analyst Hovsep Khurshudian closed the seminar, concentrating in
particular on the concern raised during the seminar about a potential
Armenia-Azerbaijan strategic imbalance in favor of the latter as a
result of its oil trade. “We do not use even the resources we have–not
only economic and military resources but also political, juridical,
public-relations and, most importantly, democratic ones,” he concluded.

The National Citizens’ Initiative is a public non-profit
association founded in 2001 by former minister of foreign affairs
Raffi K. Hovannisian, his colleagues, and fellow citizens with the
purpose of realizing the rule of law and overall improvements in the
state of the state, society, and public institutions. The National
Citizens’ Initiative is guided by a Coordinating Council, which
includes individual citizens and representatives of various public,
scientific, and educational establishments. Five commissions on Law
and State Administration, Socioeconomic Issues, Foreign Policy,
Spiritual and Cultural Challenges, and the Youth constitute the
vehicles for the Initiative’s work and outreach.

For further information, please call (3741) 27-16-00 or 27-00-03;
fax (3741) 52-48-46; e-mail [email protected]; or visit