Ghoukassian Urges Recognition of Karabakh

PARIS (Armenpress)– Nagorno Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian on March 23 urged Azerbaijan and the entire international community to accept its demand for independence pending reunification with Armenia.

"The international community’s view of us must change," Ghoukassian told Agence France Press in an interview–during a visit to Paris. "Eight years have passed since we signed the cease-fire with Azerbaijan. New realities have been created," he said. "We must be realistic and we want people to understand what we’ve accomplished in terms of democracy."

"For this–we deserve to be encouraged notably in terms of financing by the international community–as our population suffers from the fact that the conflict has not been resolved," he said.

Ghoukassian is already looking ahead to the presidential elections set for August–in hopes that the democratic process will lead the world to accept Karabakh’s legality and begin pouring in financial aid.

But the president said the territory is not seeking long-term independence – it merely wants to be recognized as such until it can become part of Armenia–an option which has brought Armenia and Azerbaijan to the brink of war.

Ghoukassian called on Azeri President Heydar Aliyev to normalize relations with the de facto administration of Nagorno Karabakh–and invited the leader to take part in resolving the conflict.

He said a settlement would allow the region’s peoples "to live in harmony and in economic development–rather than wasting their money on training armies."We really want to resolve this conflict–which is possible if we refuse the antagonistic spirit," he said.

"If the solution proposed by Azerbaijan were realistic–we would discuss it–but it is not," he said–referring to Azerbaijan’s insistence that it will never give up control of Nagorno Karabakh.

"Azerbaijan must understand that 12 years have passed and a new generation of Armenia’s have been born. There is a line of contact that separates the two parties–with armies on both sides–and a cease-fire that is holding," he said.

Ghoukassian also called on the Armenian Diasporan organizations to step up their moral and financial assistance to the unrecognized republic.

"Because of being unrecognized by the international community–we cannot count on loans from international donor organizations to restore our economy and social infrastructures. Red Cross societies and other charitable organizations are providing humanitarian assistance–but what Karabakh needs is development programs," he said in an interview with a French-Armenian historian Anahit Ter-Minasian.

"We are the people that won the war–our today’s war is of economic-political nature and our today’s task is to maintain Karabakh–to prevent out emigration and encourage immigration," he said.

According to Ghoukassian–Karabakh’s overall population now stands at some 150,000–almost as much as it had before 1988–when the movement of separation from Azerbaijan began.

Ghoukassian–particularly–referred to rehabilitation of an emergency hospital in Karabakh–which was built in 1930s and desperately needs funds for restoration and modernization. He said the people of Karabakh were expecting funds from the Diaspora for this purpose.

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