Only Peace In Exchange For Peace: Karabakh Reiterates Return Of Terr

By Naira Hayrumyan

15.06.11 | 10:48

The first phase of the Karabakh conflict settlement can be considered
completed only if not only Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also the
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic will give their consent to the Basic
Principles, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan stressed
on Tuesday.

Enlarge Photo Bako Sahakyan

The second phase, said Nalbandyan, speaking at a joint press conference
with his visiting Swedish counterpart in Yerevan, involves the
development of an agreement on conflict settlement and Stepanakert
must definitely take part in those negotiations.

“The people of Nagorno-Karabakh are the masters of their destiny. This
is the cornerstone of a peaceful settlement for us,” stated Nalbandyan.

In fact, the Armenian foreign minister said that the outcome of the
meeting in the Russian city of Kazan of the presidents of Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Russia slated for June 25 as well as the signing of
the Basic Principles now depend on the opinion of Karabakh.

President Bako Sahakyan stated that there can be no return to the
past: the conflict with Azerbaijan can be resolved only one way – a
legal recognition at the international level of the Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic’s independent status.

“This is the view of both the people and the government of our
republic. There can be no talk about the return to the situation of
1988 either in terms of the status or territories,” said Sahakyan.

Authorities in Azerbaijan have repeatedly stated that they will
not agree on the independent status of Nagorno-Karabakh. However,
a referendum on Karabakh’s self-determination is one of the key
points in the basic principles on the conflict settlement developed
by the international mediators – the OSCE Minsk Group (co-headed by
the United States, France and Russia).

The Karabakh side has reservations regarding the OSCE-proposed
document, said Karabakh Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulyan. “We have
reservations regarding the Madrid principles, but as this document
and its elements often change, now it is very difficult to say in
what state they are today and how far acceptable they are. Naturally,
our position has not changed, we continue to have our reservations,
but we also understand that currently on the table is a document that
is of interest to the parties,” said Ghulyan.

For his part, Chairman of the NKR Public Council on Security
and Foreign Policy Masis Mayilyan said that “perhaps some of the
proposals would have proved relevant and appealing to the people
of Karabakh 20 years ago.” “But after the full-scale war unleashed
by Azerbaijan against the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, after
the death of thousands of people, ethnic cleansings, the armed
occupation and material damage, offering an unclear interim status
for Nagorno-Karabakh to the Armenian sides with the vague “expression
of the will of its population” in return for a sharp decline in the
level of its security and sovereignty is at least, not serious,”
said Mayilyan.

Only peace can be offered in exchange for peace, and not territories,
emphasized Karabakh leader Sahakyan.

Still in 2009 the civil society of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
represented by leaders of nongovernmental organizations and public
experts stated that the declarations of the mediators regarding
a conflict settlement based on the so-called Madrid principles
fundamentally contradict the interests of Karabakh and Armenia. “We,
representatives of the NKR’s civil society, regard the imposed
settlement option as illegal, unjust, immoral and disastrous for the
entire South Caucasus region,” they said in their statement then.