Karabagh’s Independence Not Subject to Discussions Says Foreign Minister

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–The idea of holding a referendum to decide Mountainous Karabagh’s status is not up for discussion a senior Karabagh official said on Thursday.

"Karabagh’s independence is of supreme value for our people and is not subject to discussions," said Arman Melikian–the foreign minister of Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR).

There was speculation earlier this month that the parties are close to agreeing on a peace formula that would require the population of MKR to determine its status with a referendum to be held in the next 10-15 years. But Melikian stressed that it is "senseless" to contemplate the option since the "issue is not on the table."

International mediators refused to confirm the news during their visit to Baku–Stepanakert–and Yerevan last week. They said only that an agreement ending the long-running dispute could be signed by the end of this year.

Melikian added that the country’s status and a peace plan are two separate issues–and that a settlement to the conflict–and the consequences of the war should be considered under international norms.

The minister also said that only time would show whether there would be one state or two as a result of a settlement. He said that though the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are working effectively–principles for a settlement have not yet been formulated.

Melikian dismissed suggestions that the MKR leadership may not be informed about details of the peace talks. "I think we are sufficiently informed about the course of the negotiations and are in a position to react to them," he told reporters.

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