EX-MINISTER SKEPTICAL ABOUT KARABAKH PEACE
By Ruzanna Stepanian
Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
June 20 2006
Armenia’s former Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian was on Tuesday
highly pessimistic about prospects for a near-term resolution of the
Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, saying that it is not considered urgent by
both the conflicting parties and international mediators.
Arzumanian claimed that the replacement of the U.S. co-chair of the
OSCE Minsk Group, Steven Mann, was a clear indication that Washington
no longer hopes that the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents will cut
a framework peace deal this year. "It was obvious to me that if those
upbeat statements [made by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs
earlier this year] led nowhere, then some face-saving steps would be
taken," he told RFE/RL. "This is one such step."
"The appointment of a new [U.S.] co-chair is just a way to prolong
or review the process," he added.
Mann was replaced by a more high-ranking U.S. diplomat, Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, following the collapse of
the June 4-5 talks in Bucharest between Presidents Ilham Aliev and
Robert Kocharian. The two leaders all but dashed hopes for a quick
solution to the Karabakh dispute.
The mediators seem to be still trying to salvage the peace process,
having arranged a fresh meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani
foreign ministers in Paris last week. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister
said at the weekend that they want him and Armenia’s Vartan Oskanian
to meet again soon.
Arzumanian insisted, however, that international pressure on the
parties is still not strong enough because Karabakh peace is "neither
imperative nor vital" for France, Russia and the United States. "The
Karabakh conflict’s being unresolved is not a big threat to strategic
U.S. interests," he said. "The same is true for France and the European
Union in general. As for Russia, it has never been interested in
seeing the small nations and peoples of the region live in peace."
Arzumanian, who had served as foreign minister in the cabinet of
former President Levon Ter-Petrosian from 1996-98, also claimed that
both Baku and Yerevan are not interested in a compromise settlement.
"Any compromise would be painful for both Armenia and Azerbaijan. And
because experience shows that the Karabakh issue is a brilliant trump
card for seizing power, any president will think twice before accepting
a compromise solution," he said.
The ex-minister was clearly referring to the fact that Ter-Petrosian
was forced by his key ministers, including then Prime Minister
Kocharian, to step down in 1998 after advocating more concessions to
Azerbaijan. Kocharian supporters may counter that the current Armenian
leader has not rejected any international peace plans since then.
Still, Ter-Petrosian allies are convinced that Kocharian has been
happy with the apparent rejection by Azerbaijan of peace proposals
made by the Minsk Group in recent years. "He came to power to drag
out a settlement," said Arzumanian.
Arzumanian also reiterated Ter-Petrosian’s belief that the Karabakh
status quo is more detrimental to Armenia than its oil-rich foe. "The
 regime change pushed Armenia several years back," he said. "As
a consequence, Armenia is in complete international isolation and
not involved in any regional project, and Armenian democracy is
now far more comparable to the political systems of Azerbaijan and
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress