Ghoukassian Calls People of Karabakh ARFers

ISTANBUL (Noyan Tapan)–In a recent interview with Cumhurriyet Turkish daily newspaper–Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian discussed the current phase of the conflict negotiations–including his Republic’s stance and recent reports on his approach to the issue.

Responding to a question of recent media labeling of Ghoukassian’s style–calling him a hawk and an ARF-er–the leader said he found such statemen’s unfortunate. "I was in Moscow a few days ago–where my Russian colleagues informed me that the Azeris perceived me as a pacifist and soft on issues. They call me a hawk and an ARF member because I adamantly pursue Karabakh’s right to independence. If this is the case–then the entire Karabakh population must be considered hawks and ARF members," said the Karabakh president.

Ghoukassian commented on statemen’s made by Levon Ter-Petrosyan in regards to the impossibility of Karabakh’s independence and annexation to Armenia. He said that different politicians subscribe to different thought processes–and that was Ter-Petrosyan’s own stand on the issue. He added–however–that Karabakh was a self-governing Republic and no one would be allowed to decide its fate. "Azerbaijan is being supported by a slew of countries–so why not begin thinking how we may avoid a pitfall–as opposed to handing over Karabakh to the Azeris," said Ghoukassian.

He continued to emphasize the importance of direct talks between Karabakh and Azerbaijan–and stressed that the independence which Karabakh has gained today will never be voluntarily handed over to anyone. Ghoukassian also refuted misrepresentations in the Turkish press–saying that "I have said this before and will always say it–"Karabakh will never be subordinate to Azerbaijan–and anything other than that reported in press is wrong."

Ghoukassian went on to explain what he perceived to be Turkey’s role in the issue. He said that Ankara must adopt a neutral posture–because it is a member of the Minsk Group. According to the leader–it is only then that Turkey may become a respected mediator in the conflict–because until then it will not be able to assess the situation fairly. Today–said Ghoukassian–Turkey is biased in it approach–and this is demonstrated in its treatment of relations with Armenia. As long as such a situation persists–Karabakh cannot take Turkey’s mediating efforts seriously.

The president’s answer to a question on the efforts of the Minsk co-chairs revealed that the Karabakh authorities deemed the efforts commendable–however Ghoukassian said that efforts do not equal outcome. "The only true effort which will have true results is having the sides to the conflict [including Karabakh] come to the table together," he stressed.

"Karabakh will not accept just any solution handed down from above. We cannot accept a solution which represents the desires of others," asserted Ghoukassian.

Ghoukassian concluded by saying that Karabakh does not want to go to war. With the current proposals–however–he said that the balance of arms in the region will be thrown off–and it is then that war may be imminent.

Again–he emphasized–that Karabakh does not want to take military action–because it has resolved all military issues–and there is no reason for a military move.

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