Karabakh FM Says Conflict Cannot Be Settled Without NKR’s Participation

STEPANAKERT (NKR News)–Karabakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Naira Melkoumian–during a meeting with journalists in Stepanakert on Monday–evaluated the results of the May 19-20 visit of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen to Karabakh. Calling it very important and useful–Melkoumian noted that the pedestrian crossing made by the co-chairmen through the demarcation line from Azerbaijan to Nagorno-Karabakh could be considered a historical event.

Speaking on the possibility of stationing an international peacemaking contingent in the conflict zone upon reaching an agreement–Melkoumian said that peace had been sustained in Karabakh for seven years without the interference of additional forces. Nevertheless–the minister said that the help of certain international observation missions would allow the Azeri and Armenian peoples to maintain a just and lasting resolution to the conflict.

Melkoumian marked the significance of Karabakh joining the negotiations in the peace process. She stressed that the problem could not find any solution without taking into consideration the interests and positions of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Naira Melkoumian said she believes Karabakh’s non-participation in the negotiation process can be explained by the fact that Azeri President Heidar Aliev avoids conducting negotiations with two Armenian representatives simultaneously. "The fact that the Karabakh party is the most important participant of the negotiation process–and its opinion will certainly be considered in the document being elaborated by the co-chairmen–is reaffirmed by the co-chairmen’s visit to Nagorno-Karabakh," Melkoumian stated. According to her–the mediators came to the conclusion that it was senseless to speak about Nagorno-Karabakh’s subordination to Azerbaijan–since this would not lead to a resolution of the conflict.

The minister noted that the co-chairmen visited various regions of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic for the first time. Their visits to the 13th century Monastery of Gandzasar and to Shushi–where they met with refugees from different regions of Azerbaijan–allowed them to have a clearer and more comprehensive idea of the attitude of the people of Karabakh toward the settlement of the conflict.

In response to a question on possible economic assistance to the region after reaching a settlement–Melkoumian stressed that economic cooperation and integration were also considered by the international community as a way of establishing peace and stability. In this connection–the Karabakh foreign minister noted that the co-chairmen’s crossing of Karabakh’s "North-South" highway–made them realize that ensuring international assistance for the highway’s completion would give a new impulse to the development of the Republic’s economy.

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