Melkoumian Deman’s Recognition of Karabakh

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"Karabakh has never been part of independent Azerbaijan and any treaty without Karabakh’s signature on it will be ineffective," said Karabakh’s Foreign Minster Naira Melkumian at meeting with journalists on Friday at the National Press-Club in Yerevan. "We overcome one deadlock and fall into another one–and it is quite apparent that this situation is caused by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has failed to articulate–in a civilized manner–what it implies by political compromise. They proposed a ‘compromise’ of going back to the way it was during the Soviet era–however–Karabakh will not accept that as a ‘compromise,’" said Melkoumian.

"Karabakh must have the right to self-determination–which we believe is either independence or reunification with Armenia. Azerbaijan must accept Nagorno Karabakh’s independence as a compromise," said Melkoumian. She reiterated that any negotiations on the resolution–held without Karabakh–will be considered preliminary. She said that the talks would become full negotiations provided that Karabakh representatives also participate in them. According to Melkoumian–any peace deal over Karabakh would be deemed unacceptable unless it was full supported by Karabakh.

According to the minister–Azerbaijan’s authorities and opposition abuse the Karabakh issue as an internal political lever for solving the issue of power within Azerbaijan. Armenian authorities should try to avoid such a dangerous step–taking into account the fact that both the Karabakh and Armenia will continue to have separate elections.

Melkoumian views the meetings of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan as a beginning of transition to full-scale negotiations and final negotiations–she stressed–should be conducted with Karabakh’s participation.

"We proved to the international community that unlike Azerbaijan–Nagorno Karabakh has abandoned the policy of intolerance and is ready for constructive talks," said Melkoumian. In this connection–the foreign minister considers 2002 to be a year of active diplomatic work for Artsakh.

Karabakh tolerates–with composure–yet with vigilance–the bellicose statemen’s often made in Azerbaijan. "If there is internal fermentation in Azerbaijan–the situation on the front will become uncontrollable," said Melkoumian.

However–she added that such a development will have negative consequences for Azerbaijan: "Karabakh solved all of its military-political problems and is not going to abandon its positions."

When asked whether it would be beneficial for Karabakh to include the Council of Europe or other international structures in the negotiation process–the minister said that–on the whole–this may help the international community interpret the situation in Karabakh correctly.

On the other hand–the increased number of mediators does not imply that the negotiation process will be accelerated and Karabakh will continue to accept the OSCE Minsk Group’s proposals as a basis. "Azerbaijan’s threats to leave the Council of Europe," the minister said–"proves to the international community that the political situation in this country is not favorable for the solution of the problem and jeopardizes the safety of Karabakh."

The minister disagreed with the opinion that leaving the CE–Baku may act more unpredictably and unleash a new war: if it was only ready to attack and win they would not hesitate a minute," she stated.

Commenting on Rudolf Perina’s (the OSCE Minsk Group’s American Co-Chairman) opinion that the Karabakh conflict is the most important problems of the region–Melkumian said that the factor causing regional instability will be removed if the Armenia’s living in the Karabakh–are satisfied.

Regarding the neighboring countries’ positions on the Karabakh issue–Melkumian pointed out that Turkey’s recent activation–especially after September 11–may cause further instability in the region and jeopardize the "fragile stability," that currently exists.

The foreign minister said the rumors about the possibility of the Turkish bases surrounding Armenia and being stationed in Azerbaijan and Georgia are "dangerous."

She advised Turkey to follow the example of neighboring Iran which–according to her–is making more constructive proposals.

Melkumian also pointed out the importance of the Russian factor in the process of the Karabakh settlement–emphasizing that "Russia is an indivisible part of our region."

The minister welcomed the position of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Karabakh settlement who refuses to put pressure on the two sides. Speaking about the Paris principles–which the Armenia’s agreed to abide by–Melkumian said "Azerbaijan’s flat rejection of these principles does not mean that they were forgotten and that the process should start from a zero."

Neither Karabakh or Armenia will ever make any compromises less than the Paris principles.

It is highly probable that along with the Armenian delegation–a representative from the Nagorno Karabakh parliament will take part in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe sessions.

As the head of the parliament foreign relations permanent committee Hovhannes Hovhanisian said–this question was raised at the Armenia-Karabakh parliamentary session.

In his words–a Karabakh representative’s participation in the PACE sessions will be useful–as the representative will be able to provide information about problems discussed during the sessions.

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