Karabakh Responds to Press Accusations

YEREVAN–The representation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Armenia issued an announcement Wednesday blasting the Yerevan-based Haikakan Jamanak newspaper–which reported that the Karabakh leadership did not offer condolences to families of slain prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan and others murdered in the parliament siege on Oct. 27.

The announcement called the newspaper’s false reports an "attempt to shatter national unity at a time of a difficult crisis and a means to confuse the people."

The announcement further clarified that "From October 29 to 30–the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic delegation headed by president Ghoukassian visited the families of Vazgen Sargsyan–Karen Demirchian and other slain officials–and expressed condolences to their relatives and family members."

The Karabakh representation added that "On Oct. 30–the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic delegation took part in the ceremonial funeral procession for Karabakh hero and recipient of the highest honor–the Golden Eagle Medal–Vazgen Sargsyan from his hometown of Ararat to Yerevan.

"As for the attending the burial of other officials–the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic delegation took part in these ceremonies based on accepted norms of state ceremonies."

At a press conference Wednesday Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian said–"I am authorized to declare that the Karabakh conflict has nothing to do with the latest events." The only possible connection–she said– is that Karabakh is the principal national interest of Armenia today

Melkoumian harshly criticized the attempts by some Armenian mass media "to draw the Karabakh leadership into games related to the October 27 events."

"We consider it to be a conspiracy," the minister said. She added that the Karabakh authorities are taking seriously the commen’s by Russian mass media frequently using the incident in Armenia as a "fried fact." According to Melkoumian–similar commen’s are originated from one and the same source. "I don’t know maybe Azeri special services are involved here or maybe others as well–nevertheless–these are deliberate acts of supplying the press with information."

Melkoumian described the October 27 events as part of a conspiracy against Armenia and Karabakh. According to her–analyses show that someone is benefiting from the tragic event.

Speaking of the Karabakh peace process sponsored by the OSCE Minsk Group–the Karabakh Foreign Minister said–"Can we refuse to hold negotiations? No–we can’t–never–it will do much harm to Armenia’s foreign policy as a whole."

Asked to comment on the statement by advisor to the US Secretary of State Stephen Sestanovich that Turkey is ready to act as peace-keeper in the Karabakh conflict–Melkoumian said: "I hope Sestanovich means that Turkey will try to convince Azerbaijan to stop making extremist decisions or at least stop its assisting Azerbaijan in this matter. That would be a peace-making effort on the part of Turkey indeed. If Turkey stops its direct interference in the conflict–we can say that it would play an exceptionally peaceful role." Melkoumian noted however–that "until relations between Armenia and Turkey are not completely settled–it would be difficult to imagine Turkey’s participation in any peaceful activities."

"We have not allowed any Turkish officer to monitor in Karabakh so far," Melkoumian said–"because it is a very serious political and psychological task for us."

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