ARF Says Peace Process Optimistic but Not Realistic

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–The political affairs director of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau Giro Manoyan said Tuesday that recently announced intentions by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen to resolve the Karabakh conflict in 2006 were very optimistic but unrealistic due to the Azeri president’s uncooperative position.

"This optimism was based on the sole fact that there will be no elections in Armenia or Azerbaijan in 2006," Manoyan said. Hovhannisian added that Azerbaijan continued to pursue an aggressive policy and was not ready for any concession.

Manoyan also mentioned that to say the process was "deadlocked" would not be the proper characterization since–from the onset–Azerbaijan had no intention of resolving the conflict based on the principle of mutual compromise.

He also added that the only positive provision in the latest statement by the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs was the inclusion of a provision that gives the people of Karabakh the right to self-determination.

Hovhannisian noted that the Karabakh negotiations have been favorable for Armenia after 1998–because the issue and discussion of a self-determination referendum did not occur before 1998.

Manoyan explained that Stepanakert had never formulated a proper position toward the liberated territories.

"The ARF position is that since Nagorno Karabakh is working on a constitution it should declare its dominance on those territories," Manoyan said. "However–both Yerevan and Stepanakert view those territories as part of a compromise," said Manoyan adding that the ARF did not agree with that approach.

Manoyan added that Karabakh’s agreement to hold a referendum was a compromise in and of itself since a referendum was held years ago to declare independence from Azerbaijan.

Manoyan deemed inappropriate the tactic used by the US co-chairman Matthew Bryza to publicize the principles of the peace plan in bits and pieces–saying the entire proposal was made public in its entirety a week later.

At the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) summer session–the Armenian delegation succeeded to ensure the support of other countries in turning down proposals put forward by the Azeri and Turkish delegations–Vahan Hovhannesian–head of the Armenian delegation to the PACE and National Assembly vice speaker–told a news conference Monday.

Meanwhile–Hovhannesian said–resolutions favorable for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have been passed.

"This time our cooperation with leading nations was successful–I mean–the US–Canada–France and Russia," Hovhannesian said. "Most importantly–we succeeded in including a provision regarding the right to self-determination within PACE resolutions based on the results of the Montenegro referendum."

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