Armenia should counter Azerbaijan’s hysteria by insisting onself-det

Armenia should counter Azerbaijan’s hysteria by insisting on self-determination

October 22, 2004

The options for resolution of Nagorno-Karabagh conflict are regularly
discussed by the Armenian political circles. However, a certain
deficit of proposals exists among our political leaders and analysts.

What do our politicians think about the options of resolution of
Nagorno Karabagh conflict? We asked some of our political leaders
the following questions: 1. The status quo is preserved and the
negotiations do not seem to yield any tangible results. What should
Armenia do in this context? 2. In case the negotiations result in a
consensus and some of the liberated territories are required in return
for Karabaghâ[email protected]~Ys self-determination, what should Armeniaâ[email protected]~Ys
response be to this situation?

3. What if the negotiations end in a deadlock and peace is
threatened? If Azerbaijan starts a war what should Armenia do both
at the external front and in terms of its domestic policies?

We interviewed Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member ,
vice-speaker of the National Assembly Vahan Hovhannissian.

1. When speaking about these issues we have to clarify certain
things at the outset. For instance, when we consider the option of
negotiations ending in a deadlock and Azerbaijan preparing for war,
we should keep in mind that even now when the negotiations are still
in progress Azerbaijan is already preparing for war.

As to the preservation of the status quo, we need to have a clear
understanding of it. There is no such thing as status quo. Some things
are constantly changing and we need to see where those changes can
take us. There is no such thing as static state of affairs. Static
assessment of the existing situation can result in the wrong outcomes
in the future.

Thus, we should try to see those tendencies that can potentially
determine the development of the existing situation in the
future. There are two major tendencies in this respect â[email protected]~S first,
Azerbaijanâ[email protected]~Ys attempts to increase international pressure on Armenia
and second, Azerbaijanâ[email protected]~Ys exploitation of its oil potentials. From
this perspective, the above-mentioned two tendencies do not predict
favorable changes for Armenia especially taking into consideration
that Azerbaijan does not exclude the possibility of another war.

Moving from this starting point we can further clarify possible
scenarios of what Armenia should do. There are three main things
that we have to accomplish. Firstly, Armeniaâ[email protected]~Ys internal social,
human and economic development must be ensured.

I am referring to the establishment and consolidation of civic
institutions and democratization of the society that will eventually
increase the populationâ[email protected]~Y s confidence in the leadership of the
country and its defense capabilities.

This trust is a powerful resource for unifying the nation in case
of external threats. The population participates in the political
processes only if the authorities succeed in ensuring social justice.

We have to understand that if another war breaks out, for us it will
be a patriotic war. However, there are too many people in Armenia who
are disappointed with their homeland and the idea of independence
for different reasons. The government, the countryâ[email protected]~Ys political
leadership must correct this. If we fail to do, that will be the
failure of the political leadership of the country.

Secondly, we must look for alternative transportation routes even
if we have to exert a certain degree of political flexibility for
that purpose. As to the pressure by the international organizations
agitated by Azerbaijan, this is political pressure that aims at
devaluing self-determination and human rights by stressing territorial
integrity without taking into consideration the historical injustice
that fixed the borders determining territorial integrity. We have
to concentrate our efforts on the international arena on presenting
correctly the legal grounding for Nagorno Karabaghâ[email protected]~Ys status in
order to counter the arguments put forward by Azerbaijan.

In other words, we have to distinguish between the concept of autonomy
and state borders. It might seem that this is a theoretical speculation
but it will eventually yield practical results. As soon as Azerbaijan
recovered from the defeat in the war it took up an aggressive position
and started speaking about territorial integrity. Azerbaijanâ[email protected]~Ys
position on the proposals put forward by OSCE Minsk Group derives
from this approach.

We have to understand that the world is not a stage for playing
out political or religious affiliations. Such affiliations do
not affect decision making. Azerbaijanâ[email protected]~Ys hysteria should
be countered by insisting on the concept of autonomy and national
self-determination. We can find allies that will share such an approach
if it also reflects their state and national interests.

2. When negotiations become more active the possible options for
consensus start being discussed. Armenia was correct in that it
included all the phase-by-phase options into one package. Why? Because
all the issues should be considered comprehensively.

Consensus should be reached in several issues including transportation,
territories, demilitarization, etc. As a result if such a consensus
a different status quo will emerge that will guarantee the security
of Nagorno Karabagh Republic.

Many people characterize todayâ[email protected]~Ys situation as dangerous. However,
it has succeeded in guarantying Nagorno Karabaghâ[email protected]~Ys security for
ten years. What is the main factor that made it possible to maintain
the cease-fire for ten years? It is todayâ[email protected]~Ys borderline because
this borderline was created with the purpose of ensuring Karabagh
populationâ[email protected]~Ys security.

Karabagh armed forces had push out the Azeri army. This made
Azerbaijan sign the cease fire because it realized that the border
could move further into the country. A consensus can be made only if
commensurate security guarantees for Nagorno Karabaghâ[email protected]~Ys population
are ensured. What can guarantee security?

The status of Nagorno Karabagh Republic. Sometimes the possibility
of stationing peacekeeping forces is discussed. But peacekeeping
forces cannot be a sustainable solution. If the option of exchange
of territories is discussed all these details must be taken into
consideration. Thatâ[email protected]~Ys all I wanted to say connected with this
question since ARF continues to support the document adopted by the
previous parliament.

We have to find a balance of security guarantees. And we have to
look for this balance in all spheres. By saying balance I mean the
following. For instance, Azerbaijanâ[email protected]~Ys opening road connections
cannot be considered a commensurate concession to giving away a single
square meter of land because they can always close the roads again
but lands can be returned only at the expense of our lives.

3. I want to repeat that Azerbaijan is always preparing for war. Even
when they were pretty close to serious progress on Key West proposal,
even at that time they were speaking about war.

They are constantly preparing for war and we should not wit for their
attack. What countermeasures should we undertake? I think Armenia as
the security guarantor for Nagorno Karabagh Republic will naturally
be involved in any developments related to Karabagh. I think we need
to unify our efforts. Wars can be different.

A war conducted by large scale military forces is not efficient and
cannot solve the problem. The problem can be solved through small but
mobile military troops that will make the war so problematic for the
enemy that they will simply have to stop it.

Interview by Karine Mangasarian