Arkady Ghoukassian: Independence Is the Alternative to the “Common State” Concept

STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)–Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian held a press conference late last week to cover the results of the Paris hearings on Karabakh. The hearings were held on December 16–under the auspices of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The questions addressed to Ghoukassian were mainly of an accusatory character and concerned the return of territories currently controlled by the Karabakh Army. All this–according to Goukassian–testifies to the fact that Azerbaijan managed well to carry out propaganda. However–the president stressed–the voice of Nagarno Karabakh was clear. The deputies themselves acknowledged Nagorno Karabakh’s hardline as well-reasoned.

Ghoukassian attributed Azerbaijan’s opting out of the hearings to the fact that Baku is not interested in a prompt solution to the conflict. "We can’t always be dependent on the ambitions and illusions of the Azeri leaders," Ghoukassian emphasized. "The international community should make an appropriate assessment of Azerbaijan’s refusal to start negotiations."

Commenting on the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen’s latest proposals regarding the "common state" concept–Ghoukassian described as important the fact that for the fist time an attempt is being made to combine the principle of the rights of nations to self-determination and that of territorial integrity. "It is essential that the term "autonomy" is not mentioned in the document–but only the term ‘common state’ is," said the president. He expressed conviction that it is only the right of nations to self-determination that can serve as a ground for settling the Karabakh conflict.

Ghoukassian described as a major compromise for Karabakh to accept the possibility of establishing a common state with Azerbaijan. He stressed that the concept can become a basis for talks. Yet–he added–"If the concept had been proposed to us as a final decision–we would never have accepted it."

Another essential thing in the OSCE proposals–Ghoukassian believes–is the idea of solving all problems in a single package. "There can be no solution to the Karabakh problem as long as Karabakh’s status remains uncertain," observed the president.

By burying the idea of establishing a common state–Azerbaijan made it clear that it will continue adhering to the principle of territorial integrity–ignoring the right of nations to self-determination and considering Karabakh’s status to be its domestic politics. "If Azerbaijan rejects the "common state" concept–independence will be the only alternative for Nagorno Karabakh," Ghoukassian concluded.

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