Karabakh will never give up independence – Karabakh leader

Karabakh will never give up independence – Karabakh leader

Regnum, Moscow
24 Jan 05

Regnum news agency Mr President, there has been some fuss of late over
the Nagornyy Karabakh problem (Baku’s initiative in the UN, Atkinson’s
report to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe PACE ,
the forthcoming visit of the OSCE factfinding mission to assess the
situation on the territory controlled by Nagornyy Karabakh, as well as
the statement of US Assistant State Secretary Elizabeth Jones ). In
this context, how justified are the worries of a number of politicians
that the Armenian side is losing ground in the talks?

Gukasyan First of all, I would like to specify that two Armenian sides
are parties to the conflict – Nagornyy Karabakh and Armenia. Since
Karabakh has been artificially isolated from the talks, it would be
wrong to appraise its diplomatic activities in any way.

As for Armenia, incessant meetings between the Armenian and
Azerbaijani foreign ministers are useful, of course. Yet they are
unable to substitute a fully-fledged talks process with the equal
participation of Nagornyy Karabakh. It must not be forgotten that the
Nagornyy Karabakh problem was raised by the Nagornyy Karabakh people
and is about the status of Nagornyy Karabakh. The rest are the
consequences of the war that was thrust upon us by Azerbaijan, which
does not recognize the right of the Nagornyy Karabakh people to
self-determination, and therefore, is not willing to discuss the
status of Nagornyy Karabakh. I believe that the concerns of
politicians which you mentioned are related to the latter fact.

Regnum Do you think that Yerevan and Stepanakert Xankandi are making
enough efforts to prevent undesirable formulations on Nagornyy
Karabakh in various international bodies?

Gukasyan The reason that a number of formulations detrimental to us
have appeared in the documents of the European bodies is that Karabakh
is not present in the international bodies when this issue is
discussed. The negotiations and discussions on Karabakh, mainly within
the framework of mutual relations between the two states – Armenia and
Azerbaijan, are bound to result in such formulations from time to
time. This is not about the degree of the efforts we are making, but
about the conceptual approach to the principles and mechanisms of the
settlement.

Regnum How possible is that Baku will succeed in dragging the Nagornyy
Karabakh issue into other international bodies and what is the
involvement of other international bodies in the resolution of the
issue fraught with? In your opinion, why does Azerbaijan not like the
format of the OSCE Minsk Group?

Gukasyan Azerbaijan is busy getting as many international bodies as
possible to sign various documents (even if they are only
recommendations) that portray Armenia as an aggressor and Nagornyy
Karabakh as an allegedly uncontrolled territory. Such behaviour stems
from Baku’s perception of the conflict as Armenia’s aggression against
Azerbaijan. Therefore, Baku is unwilling to make any concessions.

Since international bodies include countries which have nothing to do
with the settlement of the Karabakh conflict (and they constitute the
overwhelming majority), such tactics may yield some temporary
political dividends for Baku. What’s more, the decision-making
procedure in such bodies, say in the UN, allows the Baku authorities
to do so.

As for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, which include Russia, the USA
and France and who mediate the talks, I am sure that they know very
well the underlying cause of the conflict, as well as the
circumstances that led to the current military and political status
quo in the conflict zone, which does not suit Azerbaijan. As you
understand, those circumstances are not in Azerbaijan’s favour. Hence,
the Azerbaijani leadership is trying to get rid of the mediation of
the OSCE Minsk Group which advocates a mutually acceptable compromise
to peacefully resolve the conflict and respects the Karabakh side’s
position by maintaining contacts with the authorities of the NKR
self-proclaimed Nagornyy Karabakh Republic .

Regnum Isn’t it high time for Yerevan to raise the question of
Nagornyy Karabakh’s involvement in the peace process more
specifically?

Gukasyan First, I am the wrong person to ask. Second, it is impossible
to peacefully resolve the problem in the language of ultimatums. Nor
will it be resolved without the full involvement of the Karabakh side
in the talks. Judge for yourself.

Regnum Recent developments testify to increasingly closer relations
between Russia and Turkey. Do you have any apprehension that close
relations between Moscow and Ankara may reflect negatively on the
resolution of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict?

Gukasyan In my view, Russia has declared its stance quite clearly. As
is known, Russia’s position is that the problem should be resolved by
the sides to the conflict and Moscow can only give them all possible
assistance and act as a guarantor of the agreements that have been
reached. Obviously, such a position stems from Russia’s interests and,
to all appearances, it will continue to maintain this
position. However, nothing can be ruled out.

At least, Turkey, which unequivocally supports Azerbaijan on the
Karabakh issue, will try to influence Russia in order to make it put
pressure on Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh.

Regnum What is Stepanakert’s principled position on Nagornyy
Karabakh’s future status?

Gukasyan The position of the Nagornyy Karabakh leadership on the issue
is based on the will of our people. This means that the security and
prosperity of Nagornyy Karabakh and its people are inconceivable if it
is to be under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan. We can only talk about
equal relations between the two subjects of international law – the
NKR and Azerbaijan. Not least because the NKR has demonstrated to the
world that the level of democratic transition here is higher than in
Azerbaijan, and that beyond the jurisdiction of Baku, the NKR’s
economy, social sphere and culture are developing at a rate that would
be unthinkable if Nagornyy Karabakh was part of the Azerbaijani
state. This is confirmed by many foreign guests of the NKR, including
your colleagues – journalists.

I do not even mention the fact that Azerbaijan, having imposed on us a
gruesome blockade and then a war, has never concealed and does not
conceal its intention to wipe out or expel the Armenian population
from Karabakh. Hardly anyone has the right to accuse us of taking up
arms and defending our right to live in our historical motherland.

We went through trials and tribulations to gain our independence, and
naturally, we will never give it up.

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