What Does The UN Have To Do With The Fires In Karabakh?

Tatul Hakobyan

21.08.2006 16:12

Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees is paying a
working visit to the South Caucasus. In Azerbaijan, Georgia and
Armenia the Commissioner had meetings with the authorities of the
three countries. Although this is Guterres’ first visit to Armenia,
the Office headed by him has done much for the integration of refugees
into the Armenian community. Today’s meeting with the Foreign Minister
of Armenia was followed by a joint press conference.

"I would like first of all to say that we have an excellent cooperation
with the Armenian Government in the support of people that have
been refugees or are still refugees. I would like to express our
appreciation for the decision that was taken to grant temporary
protection to all people coming from Lebanon both Armenians and
Lebanese, in the recent crisis," the Commissioner said.

In his turn Vardan Oskanian noted that they discussed all the questions
connected with refugees, focusing particularly on the issues of
Armenian refugees.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union over 1.5 million people
became refugees in the South Caucasian region, that is to say about
10 percent of the region’s population has lost shelter and has no
permanent place of residence.

About one third of the refugees – 500 thousand people – are
Armenians, who left their homes in Azerbaijan still preceding the
Karabakh conflict. They were subjected to massacres, brutalities
and persecution. Unfortunately, nobody remember them today, while
the question of 750 Azerbaijani refugees is still on the agenda,
and Baku articulates this for political aims.

In response to the question whether the property rights of the
Azerbaijani refugees will be resumed, Commissioner Guterres said,
"From our perspective when there is a peaceful settlement of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the property rights of both sides [Armenian
and Azerbaijani] should be respected."

Turning to the process of settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Vardan
Oskanian noted that that the mediators have not suggested any new
ideas, adding, however, that "new ideas can be expected any time. At
this point they speak about the meeting of the Foreign Ministers. The
Co-Chairs are trying to fix the possible place and the time of the
meeting. There is nothing concrete so far."

As for the arsons on the territories bordering Nagorno-Karabakh,
Oskanian said, "Mr. Guterres is a Portuguese, and he can assert that
every year great inflammations occur in Portugal because of the summer
heat. A similar phenomenon is observed on the territories bordering

In response to the Azerbaijan’s intention to transfer the question to
the UN, the Armenian Foreign Minister noted, "The discussion of the
question in the UN is not understandable for us. If such an attempt
is made, a question arises – what does UN have to do with the all
this. The issue should be considered from the practical perspective. We
should try to resolve the question locally, particularly considering
that there has been nothing intentional."

A few days ago Armenian lobbyist organizations of the US applied the
US Administration, complaining of the possibility of sending Turkish
peacekeeping forces to Southern Lebanon. What is the position of the
official Yerevan regarding the question?

"We have one position: any country having foreign peacekeeping
forces on its territory should agree to the presence of this or that
country. It is the sovereign decision of the Lebanese Government
and it should be respected and not imposed by anyone," the Foreign
Minister said.