Karabakh Will Not Forgo Independence Says Ghoukassian

BEVERLY HILLS–During a press conference Thursday at the Armenian Consulate in Los Angeles–Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Arkady Ghoukassian reiterated and asserted that Karabakh would never forgo or abandon its independence.

"I want all of you to know that we have not–and we will not forgo our independence. We have accepted the concept of a common state as a basis for negotiations–because we have to sit around the negotiating table and discuss all our problems with Azerbaijan," said Ghoukassian making reference to a provision outlined in the latest peace proposal suggested by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"We need to be able to defend our position–and our position is Karabakh’s independence," added Ghoukassian.

The Karabakh president also that one of the objectives of his visit to the US was to sensitize various governmental officials to the Karabakh perspective on the ongoing conflict.

"That we have the opportunity to present the Karabakh conflict is extremely important–since being an unrecognized country–such opportunities are scarce and we need to take the advantages presented to us," remarked Ghoukassian.

"It is also important for us to know the perspective of the international community–especially the US–on the Karabakh conflict," continued Ghoukassian.

The president stressed called false the notion that oil exploration in the Caspian would contribute to regional stability–explaining that "Azerbaijan was attempting to utilize its oil for enmity. Azerbaijan is wants to use the interest by the international community in the oil to the detriment of Armenia and Karabakh."

Furthermore–Ghoukassian stressed that the outlook for vast oil reserves in Azerbaijan was bleak–reporting that some members of the Western consortium were pulling out of Azerbaijan–since their explorations have not yielded the desired results.

In brief remarks prior to entertaining questions from the press corps–Ghoukassian praised the Armenian community of Los Angeles for its continued support–and emphasized the important role that community played during the harshest years of the conflict.

Ghoukassian added that the Los Angeles community–and the Diaspora in general–have a greater role to play in the future of Karabakh–in that they could be influential in assisting Karabakh’s socio-economic stabilization.

The president said that the Karabakh authorities had developed a socio-economic revitalization strategy–which encompasses agricultural and industrial reform initiatives. He further outlined the existence various provisions for outside investment in Karabakh.

"We must create conditions for people to return to Karabakh and create companies–work–receive salaries and support their families," Ghoukassian encouraged.

In conclusion–Ghoukassian also discussed the current internal political climate in Karabakh. He provided background regarding that aspect of life in Karabakh by emphasizing that during the height of the conflict–Azerbaijan was the only opposition force in Karabakh.

He added that the first political party to work in Karabakh was the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–which continues its activities in the republic. Ghoukassian said that the Communist Party was another registered political party in Karabakh.

Ghoukassian was accompanied by Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian–Karabakh representative to the US Tevan Poghossian and Karabakh presidential chief of staff Souren Grigorian.

The press conference began with remarks by Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian who discussed the Karabakh president’s visit to the US and some of the accomplishmen’s during his stay in Los Angeles.

Ghoukassian diligently responded to all questions from the press.

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