It’s Already Out Of Our Hands

IT’S ALREADY OUT OF OUR HANDS

The Civilitas Foundation.
Thursday, 28 January 2010 12:21

-Mr. Oskanian, how do you assess the fact that in Sochi, the sides
agreed on the preamble to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement documents?

Is this in sync with the initial principle guiding these discussions
that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed?"

-That principle exists precisely for such complicated issues as
Karabakh; every sentence of every relevant document is interrelated
and every word is consequential. For this very reason, in agreeing
on any public declaration, utmost caution must be exercised since not
everything in the negotiating document is agreed to. In that regard,
the declaration you cite, is at least cause for worry, since as a
result of similar earlier "agreements," whether the Meindorf or Athens
declarations, Azerbaijan received plenty to use to its advantage.

-After the meeting, we learned that the sides were given two weeks
during which to present proposals on disputed matters. Doesn’t that
mean that they’re pressuring the sides to settle quickly, or has the
process already entered its final stage? Especially considering that
the OSCE Special Rapporteur for NK, Goran Lennmarker expressed hope
that it would be possible to get the sides to arrive at an agreement
by spring?

-Pressure only counts if you submit to it. It’s possible to place
deadlines, but only if within those timeframes, documents and decisions
are not adopted that go against our interests. Taking into account
recent experience when in the framework of the Armenia-Turkey process,
under deadlines, documents were created which do in fact go counter
to our interests, then deadlines are indeed cause for concern.

-Overall, how do you evaluate the latest developments in the
Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process?

-The thing that worries me most is Turkey’s active involvement and
the fact that the Armenia-Turkey process has further complicated the
Karabakh settlement. Now, all our energy must be aimed at separating
these two processes, and at the same time, finding a way to address
the increasingly more complicated challenge of defending our rights
during the negotiations.

-In comparison to the increased activity surrounding the NK
negotiations, one would think the Armenia-Turkey reconciliation
process was on hold. Doesn’t this mean that before moving to ratify
the protocols Turkey is indeed waiting for progress on the Karabakh
question, as so many Turkish high officials have frequently stated? In
your opinion, is the settlement process in fact progressing based on
that condition?

-In principle, continuing to try to predict when and whether Turkey
will ratify the protocols, and under what conditions, is already
irrelevant. From the beginning, it was clear where this process would
end up. Turkey has already received the minimum to which it aspired
both in regard to the content of the documents, and in exploiting the
entire process for its own ends. Now it’s trying to gain the maximum
by achieving a speedy conclusion to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.

-During the last OSCE ministerial council, member states’ foreign
ministers accepted a document that said that Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
must be resolved according to three principles of the Helsinki Final
Act — the principles of non-use of force, territorial integrity,
and the right of peoples to self-determination, while in the Madrid
principles, the issue of Karabakh’s status will follow the return of
territory and refugees. Isn’t there the danger that in the case of
the Madrid principles, the principle of national self-determination
in regards Nagorno-Karabakh will not be decisive?

-The problem is not in the sequence of the principles; documents which
confirm that the solution of the NK conflict must be based on the two
principles — territorial integrity and self-determination — must be
avoided so long as Azerbaijan has not publicly acknowledged that the
people of NK have the right to adopt any manifestation of their right
to self-determination, and so long as the details of the application
of that right to self-determination have not yet been clarified.

-How do you assess the constitutional court decision and Turkey’s
uproar in response? Would it be right that the parliament ratifies
the protocols with reservations, as the Dashnaksutyun proposes?

-We should call a spade a spade. This is not the time to be evenhanded,
and play both sides of the fence. This simply further complicates the
situation, as I believe, everyone’s had ample time to comprehend. From
the beginning, these documents could not have served as the foundation
on which our two countries could build a stable relationship. There
was no need to waste a year to try to persuade each other, lose time,
and to divert attention from more significant problems.

-How do you assess the news that there are already steps being taken
towards arriving at the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh in the
negotiations? After determining the principles of the settlement,
will Karabakh’s participation not be merely a formal step, to keep
up appearances?

-It seems there hasn’t been official confirmation of this. But that
without Nagorno-Karabakh’s agreement, there can be no resolution to
this issue – this must be an irrevocable and undeniable principle
of the Armenian side. As to whether their participation at that time
will be more formal, than significant, will depend on the degree and
extent to which Karabakh’s authorities have been involved and engaged
in the development and acceptance of those principles.

-Of the co-chair countries, is it the Russian Federation’s desires
that are the determining ones? Is the Russian Federation not using
the Karabakh conflict to resolve its own economic, territorial and
geopolitical issues – that is, taking into account recent events,
such as their arrangement with Azerbaijan to buy a large quantity of
gas, and the mutually beneficial agreements arrived at during Prime
Minister Erdogan’s visit to Moscow?

-I am convinced that Russia does seek a settlement, in fact, exactly
for the reasons stated here. With the Karabakh problem settled,
Russia will be freer to deepen its relationship with Armenia for its
own strategic interests, and with Azerbaijan for geopolitical and
energy reasons. This means that it would be short-sighted to make
plans or calculations based on the belief that regardless of how
things develop, Armenia would receive Russia’s unconditional support.

-With the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or the Armenia-Turkey
reconciliation processes, what role or interest does or can Iran have?

This question was raised following Robert Kocharian’s visit to Iran.

Does his visit in fact have any connection to this question?

-The question about the second president’s trip perhaps you should
direct towards him. As for Iran, in contrast, for example with Turkey,
although it isn’t directly involved, its balanced position has had a
positive effect on the Karabakh settlement process. Of course, Iran,
too has interests. We talked about Russia’s interests already. Other
countries, too, have interests in our region. Each state moves based
on its own interest. But that shouldn’t be perceived fatalistically.

Armenia’s task is to clearly picture, articulate and defend our own
interests, and not just to go with the flow.

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