Armenia Insists on Preserving Common State Formula in Peace Plan

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Chairman in Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–Norwegian foreign minister Knut Vollebaek is scheduled to visit the South Caucasus late this month. After the visit he will submit a report on results of the visit to the OSCE–following which–the date of the Minsk group co-chairmen’s visit to the region will be decided–foreign ministry spokesman Ara Papyan told Noyan Tapan.

The visit of the OSCE Chairman to the region scheduled for earlier date was postponed due to the situation in the Balkans.

Papyan assessed the five-year cease-fire in the Karabakh conflict zone positively–saying that "although this is not a final peace–it is not war either–which allows both sides to hold talks calmly and hope for final and successful completion of the negotiations–that is hope for reaching a final peace agreement."

Due to the cease-fire–"I am certain hundreds of human lives on both sides have been saved," Papyan said.

Papyan also reported some progress in the peace process–with sides to the conflict–as well as the OSCE co-chairmen having a more clear idea of the situation.

Papyan noted that although there were some violations of the cease-fire–they did not grow into large-scale clashes. He said that the cease-fire is maintained largely due to the understanding that the problem cannot be solved through a military means. The cease-fire is kept because of the maintenance of the military balance in the region with no one dominating force in the region which could defeat another and achieve a final victory.

This is why–according to foreign ministry spokesman–Armenia has always condemned Azerbaijan’s policy aimed at upsetting the military balance. Armenia also condemned Azerbaijan’s aspiration to house a NATO military bases on its territory–which may upset the military balance. Such a move is fraught with more negative consequences–Papyan said.

Commenting on the latest proposals of the OSCE Minsk group–Papyan expressed hope that there would not be any deviation from the "common state" principle.

Without ruling out the possibility of changing the name of this principle–the foreign ministry spokesman’stressed that Armenia was not against that–but will insist on keeping the essence of the principle.

"This is the maximum concession that Armenia and Karabakh can make. Beyond this is an autonomy. Karabakh had autonomy until 1988 and the bitter experience of those 75 years does not inspire us with hope," he stressed. Papyan noted that unlike European autonomy–which ensures human rights–"in Azerbaijan autonomy has quite a different meaning."

"By refusing the ‘common state’ principle–Azerbaijan denies all the ability to resolve the conflict through compromise," Papyan said–adding "this should arouse Minsk group’s concern."

Papyan assured that Armenia was strongly committed to the establishment of peace.

He said–accepting the latest proposals by the Minsk group co-chairmen was already a manifestation of Armenia’s positive and constructive approach.

"We have accepted the formula which provides a higher level of freedom for Karabakh–however–this status is not formulated as independence–but as ‘common state,’ which ensures the normal existence of Karabakh without subordination to the authorities in Baku," Papyan said.

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