Ghoukassian Confirms Reported Discords Between Armenia Karabakh

YEREVAN–The Azg daily published an interview with Nagorno-Karabakh president Arkady Ghoukassian Thursday–in which the leader confirmed to a group of journalists that the seemingly tense relations between Armenia and Karabakh were indeed strained.

Ghoukassian confirmed in the interview that there are discords between the positions of Armenia and Karabakh as they relate to the Karabakh conflict. In particular–according to the President–Armenia agrees to de facto independent Karabakh within Azerbaijan.

Ghoukassian went on to say that even during earlier discussions between Jirair Libaridian and Vafa Guluzadeh–both governmental advisors–the Armenian side maintained that it was ready to recognize Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan.

"If Armenia agrees to Karabakh being within Azerbaijan at the direct talks–it is senseless to demand much from mediators," Ghoukassian emphasized. According to the Karabakh President–it is impossible to be de facto independent within Azerbaijan–because Karabakh’s independence can be safeguarded only if Karabakh is recognized as a subject to international law.

Ghoukassian assured that unlike Armenia–Karabakh’s position remained unchanged: Karabakh is fighting for its independence and will not abandon that idea. "It is very difficult for me to say what the motives of the Armenian authorities are for shifting their position–but I must also maintain and protect the will of the Karabakh Armenia’s," Ghoukassian said.

He did not rule out that these complications were caused by the possibility to build the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline via Armenia. "Our impression is that we have been kept out of play–agreemen’s are reached behind our back and efforts are made to force us into a situation which we do not want to get into. Such attempts were made by everybody–including Russia–Azerbaijan and the OSCE. I do not know–maybe Armenia is making the same attempt today," said the leader.

The Karabakh leader added on the position of Armenia–"It does not mean that it should be declared that no documen’s will be signed without Karabakh. Simply–Karabakh’s positions must be defended. We may just sit–doing nothing and then declare that the whole world is against us. Yes–today the world is standing for the principle of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan–but when did the world voice another opinion? If we did everything possible in due course–today we could say with clear conscience that we failed," the Karabakh President asserted.

According to him–"we will have a chance" only in case Karabakh’s position is defended. Ghoukassian says that Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s article and press conference and the ideas expressed may be viewed as political blackmail because of the choices presented by the politician. He said that Ter-Petrosyan advocated compromise–while the word has become to be known as a euphemism for Azerbaijan’s stance to be pushed forward. But saying "compromise," Ter-Petrosyan understands the option between the bad and the worse–"meantime–an understanding has come about that the word "compromise" is understood by Azerbaijan as a choice between the good and the better," said Ghoukassian.

Condemning Armenia’s stance–the Karabakh President opined that the situation is not so tragic and hopeless. According to him–it is necessary to persuade the mediators to choose the most optimal version leading to peace. Meantime–the version chosen today is shifting the balance toward war.

According to Ghoukassian–the OSCE summit of foreign ministers in Copenhagen "can make serious enough decisions" regarding the status of Karabakh for all further negotiations. "It seems to me that in this case it is necessary to neutralize the Lisbon statement–in order to facilitate the negotiating process," he said. And the reason for the deadlock at the negotiations–according to Ghoukassian–lies in the destructive positions of the sides. "Simply–today the mediators assume too many rights," According to the Karabakh President–a negative role was played by mediators’ efforts to predict the end of the conflict settlement.

A recent visit of the OSCE Minsk Group delegation to the region–according to Ghoukassian–brought nothing new in the process. Following Karabakh’s viewpoint–it is necessary to alter the conception of the negotiating process. "Unfortunately–we did not notice such tendencies–and we are not going to change our position," Ghoukassian concluded.

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