Oskanian Responds to Azerbaijani Charges

YEREVAN (Mediamax)–The Mediamax News Agency interviewed Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian on the Karabakh peace process. The following is an excerpt from the interview: Mediamax: Minister–Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Guliev has leveled several strong charges at Armenia–according to which–the "Paris principles" understanding is an Armenian myth–Armenia is the reason the negotiations are currently stalled–and it is Armenia which is breaking international rules and norms.

And finally–if negotiations fail–Azerbaijan is threatening to seek a military solution. How do you respond to all these? Minister Oskanian: Regarding the first charge–I am quite surprised that Minister Guliev is making such statemen’s–because the "Paris principles" understanding is not the creation of the Armenian side–but that formulation has been and is being used by the mediators themselves. The Minsk Group co-chairmen have referred to the Paris framework many times–which have been covered by the Armenian and Azerbaijani–as well as the international media.

Even if we were–just for a moment–to consider the mass media outlets with some reservation–the Minsk Group co-chairs joint statement of their Malta meeting of June 22-23 still exists. In the statement–the co-chairs said that they "exchanged opinions concerning further work on the framework for the settlement of the conflict developed during talks in Paris and Key West with the participation of Armenian President Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Aliev." Obviously–Guliev’s words are intended for the domestic audience only; or the minister of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan is simply not informed about the current process.

What concerns Armenia’s non-constructive position–is that Guliev has leveled a similar charge at the co-chairs qualifying them as pro-Armenian. Look at what is happening: one of the negotiating sides is blaming not just the other side–but also the mediators – from three of the world’s most influential countries – of being non-constructive. The only reason for the lack of progress in negotiations is the Azerbaijani side. And it isn’t the first time. If you remember–in 1998–Azerbaijan rejected the "common state" alternative–which was a unique attempt for compromise by accommodating two fundamental international principles: the right of states to territorial integrity–and the right of peoples to self-determination. Therefore–we can conclude that Azerbaijan is not prepared to seek a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict.

And what "international norms" is Azerbaijan talking about? One should not forget that Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of an independent Azerbaijan. First–as they themselves have said in their declaration–today’s Azerbaijani Republic is the successor to the Musavatist Azerbaijan of 1918-1920. It is an obvious truth that–at that time–Karabakh was not part of Azerbaijan: something that has also been noted by the League of Nations. Further–Nagorno-Karabakh’s declaration of independence was done according to the laws of the USSR–which were in full conformity with the international norms. Therefore–Azerbaijan has no legal and legitimate claims to Karabakh. Ignoring all this is the greatest breach of international rules and norms. Despite all this–Armenia has agreed to enter negotiations with Azerbaijan and is prepared to seek compromises and find such an alternative as would bring the region to permanent peace and security.

As for the military threat–I wish to remind Azerbaijan that the current situation – of refugees–loss of territory–etc. – about which they complain so much–is the result of their own hawkish policies and unbridled warfare of 1992-1994. If at the time–Azerbaijan had addressed Karabakh’s legitimate right for self-determination peacefully–through negotiations–I assure you that the situation would have been completely different. The Karabakh solution which Azerbaijan chose is literally identical to those methods which have been used in Kosovo. We believe that correcting that error with the same erroneous methods is condemned to failure. As for the hawkish statemen’s–yes–they are cause for concern. But it is not possible to frighten us with such pronouncemen’s. We have rejected the use of force or the threat of the use of force as a way of resolving such problems. However–we would like to assert that any military encroachment will be met with a commensurate response.

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