Ghoukassian Addresses Key Issues Regarding Karabakh in Interview

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian said in an interview Monday with the Karabakh Information Department that relations between his nation and Armenia were stained regarding settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan–and that Armenian Prime Minister Robert Kocharian’s rumored resignation should not come to pass–among other things.

The following is a transcript of the interview:

Q. How do you assess the current situation regarding relations between Armenia and Karabakh. Are there still discords?

A. Of course. The problem is not one of personalities–but of differing approaches towards settlement of the Karabakh conflict. I can say one thing–each side is still trying to convince the other that its position is just and prospective. The Karabakh leadership is striving for a full–and what is more important–a final solution to the conflict so that it does not leave to the next generation of politicians and citizens a legacy of unsettled relations with Azerbaijan.

We have already had a freezing of the Karabakh conflict and an awakening under favorable conditions–meaning Karabakh’s 70-year long existence within Azerbaijan under totalitarian Soviet regime and a regular conflict resumption in 1988.

The proposals made by the OSCE Minsk Group today is a temporary freezing of the situation with a badly veiled aim of restoring the status quo of 1988. As a result–we will have a guaranteed unsettled conflict for dozens of years. Obviously–the responsibility for the future of our people and simple common sense will not allow us to accept the phased settlement schedule–which also suggests unilateral concessions. We will proceed from the principle that we cannot accept decisions that involve the fate of the whole Armenian people based on momentary political and economic thoughts–by that sacrificing the idea of freedom and independence.

Q. What are your thoughts on rumors in the media that Armenian Premier Robert Kocharian will resign?

A. I think that these rumors are fueled by the political atmosphere in Armenia that emerged after the well-known news conference and the article by Levon Ter-Petrosyan. It is no longer a secret that there is no unity within Armenia’s leadership over the ways to settle the Karabakh conflict. In these conditions–Robert Kocharian was forced to confirm the position he had while President of Karabakh. We could not expect him to renounce his position which had been worked out in the past several years by the Karabakh leadership.

I think that Robert Kocharian simply has no right to resign. We should not forget that he–the president of Karabakh–was called to Armenia in times of deep political-economic crisis. Proceeding from all national interests–the Karabakh leadership met Armenia’s President half way. I know of the negative sides of that decision for Karabakh as an independent military-political factor trying to build its independent statehood. That is why–up to the end I was against Robert Kocharian’s trip to Armenia [accepting the premiership].

The events after that proved that our fears were right. The temptation to make use of the situation and question the strength and immutability of our position is too great. By spreading rumors on Robert Kocharian’s resignation–somebody is initiating the resignation of a man who did much for the consolidation of the Armenian people–political forces and movemen’s in Armenia and the Diaspora. That is a very dangerous game.

Q. What can you say about events planned for the 10th anniversary of the national-liberation movement in Karabakh?

A. That is a very important event in the life of the people and republic. A governmental commission led by the prime minister was set up–a series of events are to be attended by leaders each of whom made his own contribution to the establishment and strengthening of our statehood. We invite all our friends from Armenia and abroad–our companions and witnesses of Karabakh’s struggle for freedom and independence to celebrate that date with us.

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