Kocharian Says Karabakh Cannot Become Part of Azerbaijan

MOSCOW (Caucasus Press/Interfax/Itar-Tass)–In an interview with the Izvestya daily published on April 8 President elect of Armenia Robert Kocharian said that Karabakh’s autonomous existence within Azerbaijan is impossible. He said that Azerbaijan’s proposals to settle the conflict are unacceptable.

"Azerbaijan proposes a solution which makes it seem like nothing has happened in Karabakh during the past ten war years. It even suggests that the Soviet Union did not collapse. They suggest that Karabakh remains within Azerbaijan in the same status it used to have," Kocharian said.

Noting that everything has changed since the year 1988–Kocharian said that "it is at least incomprehensible to offer to return to what no longer exists."

"I’m not a hawk–I’m a pragmatist," Kocharian said.

The Armenian president does not see "any obstacles at all" to hold talks with his Azeri counterpart Gaidar Aliyev whom he called "a wise enough man."

Kocharian claimed that a settlement should be achieved through the development of economic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan–which are now non-existent.

"Their absence also makes a settlement of the problem more difficult. It is necessary to start–evidently–with reconciliation of peoples. When people hate one another less–it is easier for politicians to make decisions.

"Something should be changed. We have already lost four years," said Kocharian–adding that "it is necessary to come to agreement now".

"I do not know if any Karabakh citizen will today become subordinate to an Azeri. And–who will explain why the people of Karabakh should be administered from Baku. Karabakh enjoys real independence and will not renounce it," Kocharian said.

Speaking of Yerevan’s position over the Karabakh settlement–Kocharian mentioned three principles: "inadmissibility of subordination of one country to another–inadmissibility of Karabakh’s enclave existence–resolution of Karabakh’s security problem."

"If these three principles are accepted as a basis for the negotiating process–all other things are simple to solve. To reach an agreement between Karabakh and Azerbaijan is a matter of technique. Whether it will be a federation–confederation–associated member–or something else is not of particular importance," Kocharian said.

Armenia’s leader also opined that "any solution on Karabakh will be probably confirmed by an international legal document," and an international organization should serve as a guarantor of that solution.

Regarding the CIS–Kocharian said–"actually the CIS has not yet shown its worth to exhaust itself now. There is probably some wrongdoing in the CIS. However–I think there are common interests–prerequisites for CIS development."

According to Kocharian–some republics fear that Moscow does not abandon a desire to establish its hegemony. "It would be right if Moscow estranges from such perception. If we look at Russia we see that it has formed an unacceptable trade regime with CIS countries–a regime which does not promote strengthening of the Commonwealth," he said.

As for the Armenia-Russia relationship–Kocharian emphasized that their level "is high enough–higher is only the level of relationship between allies." Asked if allied relations are possible between Yerevan and Moscow–Armenia’s President-elect said that "there should be a cross movement and it must have prospects. If somebody needs to see that the USSR is being restored–I am against such relations. Such steps for a simple propagandist effect cost too much," Kocharian said.

Kocharian said Armenia will pursue a liberal economic policy and favors proportionate industrial development.

"The liberal policy–policy of openness also with regard to neighbors– will be continued in the economy," Kocharian said admitting that he is not ready to formulate "goals that will help the country overcome the crisis."

Nevertheless–Kocharian said that the development of basic industries will "guarantee Armenia’s economic stability."

"Armenia has no oil–hence it should have proportionately developed economy. We have very serious plans to develop metallurgy–the chemical industry–instrument-making–electronics. There will be an emphasis on high technology–also on biotechnology. Armenia will not be an appendage to any country," Kocharian said.

The Armenian president relies on Armenia’s large energy potentials and plans to make Armenia an energy exporter.

"A favorable tax system and trading regime have been created–in principle. Armenia now has the most liberal tax and customs legislation–so there are no problems for investmen’s in this respect," he said.

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