Oskanian Blasts Azerbaijan at UN

UNITED NATIONS–In remarks delivered during the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Armenian Foriegn Minister Vartan Oskanian blasted Azerbaijan for undermining the existing peace process and urged the international body to respect the right to self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Oskanian and other Armenian officials have said that the planned meeting of the foreign ministers was called into question by the General Assembly’s decision earlier this month to discuss the conflicts in Karabakh and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. The issue was included on the assembly agenda at the urging of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Armenia has long resisted UN involvement in the Karabakh peace process, insisting that the Minsk Group remain the sole mediating body. "One cannot blame us for thinking that Azerbaijan is not ready or interested in a negotiated peace," Oskanian said. "Yet having rejected the other two compromise solutions that have been proposed over the last eight years, they do not want to be accused of rejecting the peace plan on the table today. "Therefore, they are using every means available from state violence to international maneuvers to try to bring the Armenia’s to do the rejecting. But Armenia is on record: we have agreed to each of the basic principles in the document that’s on the table today," added Oskanian. Armenian officials insist that under the proposed peace deal, residents of Karabakh will be asked to vote for the region’s independence, reunification with Armenia or return under Azerbaijani rule. The OSCE Minsk Group mediators have stopped short of publicly confirming this, saying only that practical modalities of the referendum would be decided "through further negotiations."…The government of Azerbaijan has lost the moral right to even suggest providing for their security and their future, let alone to talk of custody of the people of Nagorno Karabakh," said Oskanian. "Azerbaijan did not behave responsibly or morally with the people of Nagorno Karabakh, who it considered to be its own citizens. They sanctioned massacres in urban areas, far from Nagorno Karabakh; they bombed and displaced more than 300,000 Armenia’s; they unleashed the military; and after they lost the war and accepted a ceasefire, they proceeded to destroy all traces of Armenia’s on their territories," recounted Armenia’s foreign minister. "In the most cynical expression of such irresponsibility, this last December, a decade after the fighting had stopped, they completed the final destruction and removal of thousands of massive hand-sculpted cross-stones medieval Armenian tombstones elaborately carved and decorated. "Such destruction, in an area with no Armenia’s, at a distance from Nagorno Karabakh and any conflict areas, is a callous demonstration that Azerbaijan’s attitude toward tolerance, human values, cultural treasures, cooperation or even peace, has not changed. "One cannot blame us for thinking that Azerbaijan is not ready or interested in a negotiated peace. Yet, having rejected the other two compromise solutions that have been proposed over the last 8 years, they do not want to be accused of rejecting the peace plan on the table today. Therefore, they are using every means available from state violence to international maneuvers to try to bring the Armenia’s to do the rejecting. "But Armenia is on record: we have agreed to each of the basic principles in the document that’s on the table today. Yet, in order to give this or any document a chance, Azerbaijan can’t think, or pretend to think, that there is still a military option. There isn’t. The military option is a tried and failed option. Compromise and realism are the only real options," asserted Oskanian. "The path that Nagorno Karabakh has chosen for itself over these two decades is irreversible. It succeeded in ensuring its self-defense, it proceeded to set up self-governance mechanisms, and it controls its borders and its economy. Formalizing this process is a necessary step toward stability in our region. Dismissing, as Azerbaijan does, all that’s happened in the last 20 years and petulantly insisting that things must return to the way they were, is not just unrealistic, but disingenuous," explained Oskanian. "Nagorno Karabakh is not a cause. It is a place, an ancient place, a beautiful garden, with people who have earned the right to live in peace and without fear. We ask for nothing more. We expect nothing less," concluded the foreign minister.

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