Ghoukassian Says it is Time for Azerbaijan to Make Concessions

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Before returning to Karabakh on Monday Karabakh President Arkady Goukassian held a press conference in Paris. Radio Liberty reported that Ghoukassian held a number of meetings of friendly and political nature–among which were meetings at the Senate and National Assembly of France–and with Armenian political and social circles.

At the press conference–Ghoukassian spoke about his meeting with mayor of Vilerbane and State Secretary for Public Health Bernard Cuchner–as a result of which the sides signed an agreement on cooperation between Vilerbane and Stepanakert–as well as reached an agreement in support of Karabakh in the sphere of health care. Ghoukassian remembered Cuchner’s work in support of Karabakh in 1992–when he–as a responsible officer for the French humanitarian aid group–was in Karabakh inspiring its residents.

Asked if the "Karabakh President’s reception in French political circles means recognition of Karabakh," Ghoukassian noted that it shows that France factually recognizes Karabakh as such–though not legally.

Ghoukassian presented the situation in Karabakh calling it "neither war–nor peace" and noted that all political issues must be settled in a single package and the degree of risk must be equal for both sides.

"I think that the [OSCE Minsk Group] co-chairmen acknowledge the logic of Karabakh’s position and do not rule out a possibility of new proposals. Our argumen’s are serious and cannot be ignored. During the meeting with Jaques Bloe and George Vogier I did not feel that they consider the `step by step’ version as the only one. We are ready for concessions–but will never agree to unilateral concessions," Ghoukassian said condemning Azerbaijan’s policy which offers preliminary conditions for the talks–and first of all a condition that Karabakh must agree to become part of Azerbaijan.

"Azerbaijan began the war–lost it and deman’s capitulation of the winning side–declines negotiations. In this respect Azerbaijan is a unique country: powerful Russia negotiates with Chechnya; Great Britain with North Ireland–France–New Caledonia; and only Azerbaijan does not want to negotiate–but wants to get everything," Ghoukassian said.

According to the president–Karabakh has already made two big concessions by refraining from its original intention to unify with Armenia–and agreeing to maintain free–with balanced relations with Azerbaijan at the expense of limitation of its independence and statehood. "Now it is time for Azerbaijan to make concessions," said Ghoukassian.

The Karabakh leader said that Azerbaijan is a totalitarian state–and the elections do not impact anything in such countries–because the election returns are predetermined and that arouses concern.

Regarding the oil pipeline–the choice of a direction will not have a direct influence on the talks–Ghoukassian said. He added–however–that a relevant decision will facilitate the process.

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