Oskanian: ‘We Must Place Emphasis on the Political Status of Mountainous Karabagh’

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian touched on the current state of the Mountainous Karabagh negotiations process during a July 10 press conference–in which a European delegation also participated.

"We have to approach the settlement of the Karabagh conflict correctly–that is–from the perspective of resolving the political status of Mountainous Karabagh–and only within that context can we properly assess the consequences arising from the conflict–such as the territorial–refugee–and security issues," Oskanian stated.

The Foreign Minister’s statement came in response to a foreign journalist’s question whether Armenia is prepared–in the Karabagh conflict resolution process–to return Azerbaijani territories that are under Armenian control.

(Minister Oskanian had earlier in the day received Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Margherita Boniver and her delegation–which represents the Italian presidency of the European Union–the upcoming Irish presidency–as well as the European Commission.)

To begin the Karabagh conflict settlement process with the territorial issue is a flawed approach and points to a faulty grasp of the nature of the settlement issue–Minister Oskanian explained.

He stressed that the territorial issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not a cause but an effect that came about because Azerbaijan attempted to militarily suppress the aspirations of Karabagh’s population for self-determination. "Those developmen’s–Azerbaijani territories under Armenian control–are the upshot of the Azerbaijan-initiated military conflict," he said.

The conflict must be resolved through a "package approach" that would encompass all pending matters–Oskanian stressed. "We have to place the emphasis on the political status of Mountainous Karabagh–everything else is incidental and would find resolution through that package," he said.

Regarding commen’s by the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister that Azerbaijan would conduct direct negotiations with Mountainous Karabagh if Armenia were to not take part in them–Minister Oskanian stated–"Armenia has always championed direct Karabagh-Azerbaijan negotiations–that is a most productive notion. If the possibility actually exists that Mountainous Karabagh could negotiate with Azerbaijan–then Armenia can only welcome that."

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