No Need To Open The Closed Page

Lilit Poghosyan

Hayots Ashkhar Daily
10 Dec 08

Responding to the invitation of one of the discussion clubs of
Yerevan at the end of November, Vahram Atanesyan, Head of the Foreign
Affairs Committee of the NKR National Assembly, categorically refuted
the false stereotype disseminated by the Armenian Pan-National
Movement. The radical activists persisted in its statements that
before 1998, Karabakh participated in the Minsk Group process as a
"full party", but then Robert Kocharyan came to power and coarsely
ruled out Karabakh’s participation in the process. And he immediately
appeared in the focus of the "criticism" of the propaganda machine.

At our request, VAHRAM ATANESYAN touches upon the issue under

"Frankly speaking, the news release of ‘A1+’ agency led me to the
belief that Mr. Manvel Sargsyan was just trying to remind about his
existence after quitting politics. But judging by the comments of Web site, I think that he was the author of everything and
is probably trying to solve some other problem.

Yes, I did conduct a press conference in Yerevan on the 21st
of November, and in response to the question concerning ‘Nagorno
Karabakh’s non-participation’, I said that in 1994-98, Karabakh hadn’t
been a full party to the talks; therefore, nobody could have ruled out"
its participation in the process.

In 1992, the OSCE Minsk Group started its mission, and Nagorno
Karabakh’s participation in the settlement process was determined by
the following formulation: ‘NKR-approved and other representatives’. As
to the subsequent consultations, discussions and negotiations, they
were necessarily participated by the so-called Head of the Azerbaijani
community of Nagorno Karabakh. That person was Nizami Bahmanov who
is already dead.

Therefore, if Mr. M. Sargsyan desires to see the representatives of the
Azerbaijani community sitting next to the NKR-approved representative
around the table once again, that’s just impossible. He has to wait
for a long time, until Azerbaijan decides who will represent the
‘Azerbaijani community of Karabakh’. This question has become a
trouble for Azerbaijan, and they are unable to find a way out.

I just regret that a politician and political scientist like Manvel
Sargsyan does not realize that what is being done currently is just
an attempt to bring closer the ‘representatives of the Armenian and
Azerbaijani communities’ of Nagorno Karabakh, so as they can discuss
certain problems. And Nagorno Karabakh, as an accomplished state,
finds this unacceptable. Nagorno Karabakh can and must participate in
the talks based on the principles of equality of rights and mutual
recognition of competences. That’s a long way which, we hope, will
not be insurmountable for us.

If Mr. M. Margaryan has forgotten that in 1994-97, the principal
talks were conducted abroad, on the level of Zhirayr Liparityan,
Chief Advisor to the RA President and Vafa Guluzade, Advisor to the
Azeri President on Foreign Policy issues, that’s his problem. That
time too, negotiations were held between L. Ter-Petrosyan and late
Azeri President H. Aliev. They periodically met within the frameworks
of both CIS summits and other international forums.

If the NKR had participated in the negotiation process as a full
party, it would have categorically opposed the settlement option
L. Ter-Petrosyan wanted to push forward in 1997. By the way, during
the years when ‘NKR’s participation in the talks was ruled out’,
M. Sargsyan was the Advisor to the President on Foreign Policy
Issues. If anything of the kind really happened, then he also has
his share of guilt."

"Did M. Sargsyan ever express his view during his tenure? Did he ever
protest against the ‘awkward’ policy of the Armenian party?"

"In general, the fact that the Foreign Policy Advisor of any country’s
President may have a permanent residence in the capital city of some
other country is something nonsensicall. Manvel Sargsyan officiated
in Yerevan; he visited Stepanakert for a day or a day and a half but
he never complained that the Nagorno Karabakh was being pushed away
from the negotiation process. Today, I am simply unable to understand
which of my statements diminishes the role of the Nagorno Karabakh
Republic as an independent subject, something M. Sargsyan and his
yes-men are trying to claim.

On the contrary, the NKR can and must participate in the talks based on
the principle of equal rights and mutual recognition of competences. I
emphasize the fact of the NKR’s being a legal subject. Our objective
is this and not the task of conducting talks with the representative of
the "Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh". We can have a dialogue
with the Azeri authorities based on the principle of equal rights;
but this certainly doesn’t mean that Azerbaijan has to immediately
recognize the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

No, we are conflicting parties on equal bases and should negotiate
with each other based on the principles of equal rights. As to the
outcome of the talks, nobody can predetermine it. But no divergence of
opinions is possible with regard to the fact that those negotiations
should have no precondition.

And today, the principal factor impeding the negotiation process is
that Azerbaijan does not recognize Karabakh as a legal subject.

And if it seems to some people that Azerbaijan has ever recognized NKR
as a legal subject, I will say that this does not correspond to the
reality; otherwise, th e conflict would have been settled long ago."

"Don’t your opponents play into the hands of Azerbaijan by constantly
repeating false statements that it is Armenia that impedes Karabakh’s
participation in the negotiation process?"

"That’s a very dangerous tendency. Especially in a situation when an
attempt is being made to conduct the talks on the ‘inter-community
level’. That’s to say, we are speaking about an accomplished state,
and they are trying to push us to enter into a debate with the Azeri
community with which we have nothing to negotiate. After all, the
plans to return the settlement process to the course which failed in
1998 after L. Ter-Petrosyan’s resignation is already in the past. That
page is closed, and there’s no need to re-open it any more. This is
what poses threat.

To admit the fact that we had recognized Karabakh as a full party to
the talks before that would mean that we bear responsibility for the
phase settlement which is no longer effective. Because, a negotiating
party is not just a claimant; it also assumes responsibility; whereas
we do not bear any responsibility for a process which existed before
1997. Neither do we bear any responsibility for the current stage of
the talks because we do not participate in the negotiation process
at present.

However, there is a vast difference between what was proposed
in 19 97 and what we have on the table at present. These are
completely different starting points. Today, the discussions go
around the possibilities of exercising the NKR people’s right to
self-determination, a principle that didn’t exist in 1997. Not seeing
or pretending not to see this means not to be interested in the
settlement methodology which implies the possibility of exercising
the right to self-determination."

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