INTERVIEW: ONLY A DOCUMENT THAT BE SIGNED BY AZERBAIJAN, NAGORNO KARABAKH AND ARMENIA CAN RESOLVE NAGORNO KARABAKH CONFLICT
Only a document that be signed by Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh and
Armenia can resolve Nagorno Karabakh conflict Minister of Foreign
Affairs of Armenia responds to ArmInfo questions on the UN resolution
on Karabakh, as well as the domestic situation
Q: The resolution presented at the UN General Assembly by Azerbaijan
was passed. How do you assess what happened and how will it change
A: The actual passage of the resolution, I assess negatively. It
was unnecessary, ill-timed, mean-spirited, both as a process and a
product. But I’m satisfied with the number of countries that did not
support it. I assess their decisions positively. This is a non-binding,
or consultative pronouncement by the General Assembly, I don’t think
it will have an affect on the process, unless Azerbaijan is engaged
not just in deception but self-deception.
If they expect to use this for anything other than their domestic
purposes, if they have convinced themselves that the international
community truly supports the one-sided desires they had enumerated in
the text of this resolution, then this will cause serious problems
in the negotations. One thing must be clear for Azerbaijan – that
no amount of resolutions will make Nagorno Karabakh deviate from its
path of self-determination.
Q: Then, how do you know if they are serious about the negotiations?
A: Fortunately, we will have an opportunity soon to find out. There
is a possibility that Armenia’s President-Elect will meet with the
Azerbaijani President in Bucharest, in the framework of the NATO-EAPC
Summit. We’ve stated our readiness to participate, I know the co-chairs
will make such a proposal, and I know the Azeris have also hinted that
they are ready to continue the dialogue at the highest levels. During
that first meeting this issue can be clarified. President-Elect
Sargsyan can ask President Aliyev point blank – if you truly believe
in the content of this resolution and if that will be your guideline,
then there’s nothing to talk about and let’s not waste our time. But if
you’re still committed to the negotiating document on the table today,
then let’s get serious and go the short distance that’s left. Indeed,
the UN resolution text and the content of the negotiating document
are incompatible; most of the international community recognized this
which is why they did not support it.
Q: But still 39 countries voted in favor.
A: They did not vote in favor of the content of the resolution,
they voted in favor of the sponsor – Azerbaijan. Those who voted
‘yes’ were either members of GUAM or of the Organization of Islamic
Conference. I think if UN General Assembly resolutions were actually
binding, then many of those who abstained would have in fact voted
against the resolution.
However, I don’t want to deal in conjectures. This is the time
to understand that there is no other option but negotiations. Show
me one example in history when a conflict has been resolved by the
passage or acceptance of a document by an international organization
or by third countries. There hasn’t happened and it’s not going to
happen now, certainly not in the case of Nagorno Karabakh. In 1948,
the UN General Assembly resolution to partition Palestine didn’t solve
anything. More recently, the Security Council resolution on Kosovo
also didn’t manage to bring the sides together in a meaningful way. I
remember in Lisbon when the OSCE Chairman-in-Office made a statement
about Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s joy knew no limits. It took
years for Azerbaijan to understand that that document had no value.
There is only one document that can resolve this conflict: that
is the one that will be signed by Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh
and Armenia. Let me say again that the document on the table now,
given to the parties at the highest levels in Madrid and deposited
at the OSCE Secretariat, should be the guiding principle for a real
sustainable resolution of the conflict.
Q: On the day the resolution was being voted on, you were in
Europe. This was your first trip since the elections and the
post-election disaster. What reactions did you receive? What was
A: This was a forum where the policy makers of the US, Europe
and beyond were all present. Not only did I meet a lot of people,
ironically, I was a keynote speaker in a session on Europe’s path to
the Caucasus, where the primary focus was of course on democracy. This
had been scheduled months before the election, and although I would
have said the same things whether the post-election events had taken
place or not, the situation was more sensitive and the stakes were
higher. Indeed, Armenia has taken a beating because of the riots
and the deaths. No one was interested in asking or knowing who did
what. They looked at this as an Armenian mess, an Armenian tragedy, an
Armenian problem and judged us all together. It’s not the government
that’s damaged, it’s not the opposition that’s discredited, it’s
Armenia that is dishonored.
My task there was to accept their criticism, listen to their
disappointment, share their frustration and try to explain that this
was not a permanent setback, but a temporary aberration from the
path to which we’re commited. I hope I’m not wrong. My judgment –
and their assessment – will be tested by what happens in the coming
weeks and months. What was clear was that despite all this, there’s
a lot of good will towards Armenia, a lot of hope pinned on Armenia,
and a sincere desire to see us come through this in a meaninful way,
not just superficially moving forward with business as usual.
Q: How do we do that? What’s the way out?
A: This conference was in Brussels, and most of the people I met with
were from Europe, and the EU leadership. They repeated the points they
had made last week – that they expected the state of emergency lifted,
they expected dialogue, they wanted the issue of detentions addressed,
and they expected a return to unrestricted media. It was clear that
there is a great deal of overlap between their requirements and the
desires of the government and the statements of the opposition.
What the EU wants is what the Armenian people want. In my view, all
of those basic expectations can be met, they are and must be doable
considering that the people’s faith and trust, the integrity of our
society and the future of our city and country are at stake.
We too want the state of emergency lifted, and as the President has
said there have been no infractions, and the State of Emergency will
be lifted as scheduled.
The matter of detentions is very critical and very important. Of course
we do not want to become a country of political prisoners. Those
who have political association and have acted criminally must be
punished. But artificial criminal charges should not be used to
isolate political figures.
The opposition cannot continue to act to risk everything. They
did that on the afternoon and evening of March 1. If what they
want are political, economic and social changes, they can use the
strength of their support base to insist on those changes. We have
a president-elect who has said he understands the depth of the
frustration and dissatisfaction and is committed to bringing change.
The political changes, the healing and the building are going to take
a very very long time. They will be made more difficult by the rumors,
the distrust, the fear, the readiness to believe the worst. Perhaps
we can set aside the opposition’s sense of entitlement and the
government’s self-assuredness, and actually conduct an independent,
transparent investigation over what happened on March 1, even as we
engage in real dialogue about what’s to come.