“Yerevan and Stepanakert Don’t Conduct Policy Of Inhabiting Occupied


17 Feb 05

French Co-Chair Tells About His Impressions

Bernard Fassie, French co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, expressed
opinion that Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh do not conduct policy of
inhabiting the territories under their control. Bernard Fassie who
visited the territories under the control of NKR forces said this in
the interview to the Liberty Radio Station.

“Notwithstanding the common opinion, most likely, there is
no elaborated and large-scale program of inhabiting these
territories. Lachin is the only exception, as we can say that
inhabiting is supported and sponsored here. As for the six other
regions, we had the impression that 80-90 percent of the people
that settled down here moved to these territories at their own will,
being assisted by the local NGOs or the Armenian Diaspora. There is
no large-scale participation of Stepanakert and Yerevan”, Mediamax
cited the words of Fassie.

In 1992-93, repulsing the attack of the large scale Azeri
aggression, Karabakh armed forces managed not only to liberate half
of Karabakhâ~@~Ys area occupied by the Azeri forces, but also set
up control over Lachin, Kelbajar, Aghdam (about 70%), Ghubatlu and
Zangelan regions that formerly belonged to Soviet Azerbaijan. The
monitoring mission that included the representatives of Germany,
Finland, Sweden and Italy passed the first week of February in the
abovementioned 7 regions.

Official Baku states that the Armenian side conducts policy of
inhabiting and utilizing. Elmar Mamediarov, Azeri foreign minister,
said earlier that 23 thousand Armenians have settled down in these
regions. Araz Azimov, Azeri deputy foreign minister, informed “Day”
Azeri online edition that “some inaccuracy may be in the represented
data but this doesnâ~@~Yt change the general results. There are facts,
that illegal inhabitation carried out.”

Bernard Fassie stated in the interview to the Liberty that mostly
the Armenian refugees that left Azerbaijan in the first months of the
conflict settled down there. Supposedly, the French co-chairs means
the Armenians that fled from Shahumian and Getashen regions, the North
of Martaket, as well as Baku, Sumgait and other regions of Azerbaijan.

According to Fassie, the second group includes people that suffered
from the earthquake in 1988. “The third and the smallest group includes
people that left Armenia for the economic reasons,” he said. Fassie
added that there are people who are engaged in cattle breeding and come
to these regions for more beneficial climatic conditions in winter.

Fassie said that the refugees do not receive any aid from Stepanakert
or Yerevan. The settlements including some families are isolated from
each other for having no roads and other communication means. Fassie
added that no organized activities are initiated for restoring the
structures ruined in the war, except for Lachin.

“There is no electricity in many regions and people live in poverty
there. I wouldnâ~@~Yt say that these people live. They are surviving
beneath the walls under the roofs covered with holes,” Fassie said.

David Babayan, political expert from Stepanakert, spent the whole week
with the Minsk group co-chairs and the monitoring mission. “The French
co-chair gives the general picture of the situation in the liberated
territories and emphasizes that the statements made by official Baku,
saying that these territories are being inhabited on state level,
do not correspond with the truth,” Babayan said in the interview to
daily Azg.

Babayan noticed “some points in the report of Fassie that were hard to
understand”. “For example, he states that the mission was possible only
as a result of hot negotiations between Baku and Yerevan. Certainly,
such negotiations were held. But the activities of the mission would
be impossible, if official Stepanakert were against that. We donâ~@~Yt
know why, but the French diplomat doesnâ~@~Y t say anything about
that,” he said.

Vahram Atanesian, chairman of the Committee of External Relations
at NKR National Assembly, believes that Fassie remained loyal to
political conjuncture. “If the countries in chair at Minsk group
do not recognize the independence of NKR at present, Fassie made
statements in this way. But it doesnâ~@~Yt change anything. Anyway,
the monitoring mission worked in the territories under Karabakh
forcesâ~@~Y control and accumulated facts with the consent and the
assistance of NKR authorities,” Atanesian said.

As for Lachin, Atanesian said that Fassie tried to separate it from
the rest of the regions. “I have the impression that the mediators are
apt to observing Lachin as an area of vital link between Armenia and
Nagorno Karabakh and this regions should be observed out of all that
context that can be outlined as a result of the recent activities of
OSCE,” he said.

It’s worth mentioning that the OSCE monitoring mission will prepare a
report on the results of its visit to the abovementioned regions in the
course of the coming weeks and submit it to the Minsk group co-chairs.

By Tatoul Hakobian