Ghoukassian Continues US Visit

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Nagorno Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian held separate meetings with US Senator Jack Reed and US Congressmen David Bonior–Patrick Kennedy and John Porter on March 10 as part of his tour of the United States.

He also had a conversation with members of the Armenian group at Congress Frank Pallone–James Rogan–Nancy Pelosi–George Radanovich and Joe Knollenberg.

During the meetings–the Karabakh leader presented the internal political as well as social and economic situation in Nagorno Karabakh and the current state of the Karabakh settlement in light of Azerbaijan’s refusal to accept the proposals by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.

The same day–Ghoukassian made a speech at the Heritage Foundation Center. The president gave background information about the Karabakh conflict and presented prospects for its settlement–after which he answered the questions of those present.

Later in the evening–the Armenia Embassy in the United State gave a reception in honor of the Karabakh president. Also attending the event were US Ambassador to Armenia Michael Lemmon–US Minsk Group Co-chairman Donald Kaiser–diplomats from Russia–Greece–Austria–as well as Pentagon officials.

Ghoukassian lectured Thursday at the New York University. The lecture covered causes of Nagorno Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan.

Ghoukassian gave a comprehensive analysis of the economic situation in Nagorno Karabakh when it was a part of Azerbaijan. Stressing that the Azerbaijani authorities pursued a discriminatory policy in relation to the autonomous region–the president said that it became one of the major causes for change in region’s demographic situation. Ghoukassian said that to avoid heavy consequences in 1988 the Armenian majority of Nagorno Karabakh raised the issue of secession from Azerbaijan–and in 1991 supported full independence at the nationwide referendum.

The Karabakh president also compared the situation in Karabakh before and after the war. According to him–consistent resolution of tasks of socio-economic development through the implementation of reforms and active integration with Armenia promoted Karabakh’s end of its economic stagnation.

"Having opted for secession–Nagorno Karabakh chose free political and economic development with a prospect of involvement into regional economic processes. We do not rule out the possibility of establishment equal partnership with Azerbaijan and participation in joint projects," Ghoukassian said.

Karabakh Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian–who is among the entourage of the visiting president of Nagorno Karabakh Arkady Ghoukassian–spoke at the Carnegie University. Her report encompassed issues of subregional security in the South Caucasus.

Speaking of prospects for the Karabakh conflict resolution–Melkoumian said that on the current stage it is necessary to answer the question whether the internationally recognized configuration of three states is stable in the South Caucasus or not. The minister said Nagorno Karabakh–regardless of its unrecognized status–is an integral part of the region today–and any endeavor to build an independent system ignoring the interests of Nagorno Karabakh is doomed to failure.

Melkoumian said peace and stability in the South Caucasus could be achieved only through establishing a new model of subregional collective security. At the same time–she stressed the presence of integrated security of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

The Karabakh foreign minister said the right of Nagorno Karabakh to security within limits excluding Nagorno Karabakh’s being an enclave must be internationally recognized and a legal stipulation regarding the Armed Forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic should be made in the international documen’s related to the states of the subregion.

Speaking of the political aspect of the Karabakh conflict settlement–Melkoumian stressed the need for a model capable of harmonizing the apparent conflict between the two equal principles stipulated by international law–namely territorial integrity and the right of nations to self-determination.

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