Parliamentarians Express Views on Karabagh Negotiations Recent Decisions

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Parliamentary blocs attending the third session of Armenia’s National Assembly held their first informal meeting with the press yesterday and expressed their views on a range of issues.

The main themes discussed were the election of ad-hoc parliamentary commissions–ratification of Protocol 6 to the European Human Rights Convention–amendmen’s to the criminal law–and participation of the Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) in negotiations for the resolution of the Karabagh question.

The head of the ARF’s parliamentary bloc–Levon Mkrtchian–underscored the importance of the temporary commission that will study the matter of bank accounts and loans–and stated that a political assessment must be made regarding the administration of loans given to the Armenian Republic at various periods in recent years.

"The National Assembly is not preparing to mete out punishment. But if there have been major cases of misconduct–then the appropriate evaluation must be made and the evidence forwarded to prosecutors," he said.

Speaking of Protocol 6–which bans the death penalty–the head of the ARF bloc noted that the integration of Armenia into European structures must not be impeded–and that "Europe long ago made clear its position–that the state does not have the right to take a life that has been granted by God."

As for the necessity of making changes in the criminal law as a result of the adoption of Protocol 6–Mkrtchian said that for extremely grave crimes–the maximum penalty should be life imprisonment with no possibility of parole or pardon.

Expressing the ARF’s position on the matter of MKR’s participation in the Karabagh negotiations process–Mkrtchian stated that the current format of the negotiations has achieved results. "Each year that goes by peacefully is a step toward the international recognition of Mountainous Karabagh and the strengthening of the MKR," he said.

In the process of negotiations–the Karabagh question has moved to the field of political dialog–according to Mkrtchian–and the responsibility for the negotiation process–in addition to the states of the southern Caucasus–has now also been assumed by an international entity (the Minsk Group). To state that MKR has not been included in the present format is not correct–because "de facto" it has–he said–adding that the co-chairs of the Minsk Group periodically visit Stepanakert–and that MKR has always had input in the negotiations process.

Unified Labor Party Parliament leader Gourgen Arsenian stated that it would be preferable if the Karabagh side were to become a direct participant. "That would mean that it would not be possible to exploit whatever agreement the three sides might reach." The participation of MKR would decrease the possibility of negative developmen’s–according to Arsenian.

Hmayak Hovhannisian–of the "National Unity" bloc–also stated that it would be correct if MKR were to become a party to the negotiations–because Karabagh is seeking self-determination "and to ignore MKR would mean to ignore the truth that the Karabagh question is one of self-determination. And I believe that it would be right for Mountainous Karabagh to become a decision-making participant in the negotiations," he said.

According to the representative of the "Justice" bloc–Grigor Haroutiunian–not only must Karabagh become a party to the negotiations–but the bloc also expresses concern that in recent years Armenia has come to be recognized as a main party to the conflict. Haroutiunian said that because conflicts are resolved through mutual compromise–then it is possible that the territory of Armenia could become the object of negotiation.

Mher Shahgeldian–representing the "Country of Law" parliamentary bloc–stated that the participation of MKR in the negotiations is important–but it is necessary to think about the correct means of achieving that objective.

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