Armenia, Karabakh Leaders React to Kosovo Independence Declaration

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenia will express its position on Kosovo’s decleration of independence in the near future, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told Novosti-Armenia Agency on Tuesday.
"We are still discussing the Kosovo issue and in the near future we’ll express our opinion", Oskanian said.
Answering a question if the Kosovo issue could contribute to the Karabakh conflict settlement Oskanian said, "We’ll see".
The Kosovo Parliament voted to declare independence on Sunday. The 10 Serbian parliamentarians did not participate in the ceremony.
"We are confident that the recognition of Kosovo by the international community or by individual countries will strengthen our position in negotiations to resolve the conflict with Azerbaijan," Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Georgi Petrosian said in an interview.
"It is important in the sense that Kosovo might become an example of a country’s independence being recognized against the will" of the country from which it is seceding," Petrosian said.
He said he believed that the solution for Kosovo in its conflict with Serbia should also work for Karabakh in its conflict with Azerbaijan.
"A denial of this thesis would amount to a denial of the nature of the precedent and its role in contemporary international relations," he said.
Ashot Ghoulyan, speaker of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s parliament, agreed. "The situation around Kosovo cannot be perceived as a one-off case," he added.
The leaders do not seem discouraged by the fact that Russia, Armenia’s closest ally, has avoided mentioning Karabakh when listing the other republics in the former Soviet Union that might be affected by Kosovo’s independence bid. During his annual news conference last week, President Vladimir Putin once again accused the West of adopting double standards in insisting that Kosovo’s case was unique. He listed Georgia’s republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Moldova’s Transdnestr as territories that might seek to follow Kosovo’s lead. Putin, who has been trying to forge closer ties with oil-rich Azerbaijan, did not name Karabakh.
Petrosian said the omission might be an indication that Russia, which is participating in the OSCE negotiations, "is avoiding statemen’s that would put its impartiality as a mediator in doubt." Russia, however, has also been involved in similar talks between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Official Azerbaijan Monday said it does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
"We view this illegal act as being in contradiction with international law," said Khazar Ibrahim, head of the press service at Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry. "Proceeding from this, Azerbaijan’s position is clear: it does not recognize (Kosovo’s) independence," he added.
The US Embassy in Azerbaijan echoed Ibrahim’s remarks with a statement of its own which said that Kosovo is unique and cannot set a precedent for other regions, including Nagorno-Karabakh.
The embassy’s public affairs office told APA that according to the statement, the unusual combination of factors involved in Kosovo, including a specific U.N. Security Council Resolution envisioning a status process and an extended period of transitional U.N. administration makes the Kosovo case fundamentally different from all other existing cases.
"Our longstanding policy remains unchanged," the statement read. "The United States recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and supports a peaceful and negotiated solution to the conflict. At the same time, we maintain that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh should be determined through international negotiations."
"In the wake of these latest developmen’s in Kosovo, we call on all members of the international community to avoid any public statemen’s that could undermine the chances for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," it continued. "Any attempt to resolve the conflict through military force or any means other than a negotiated compromise risks undermining peace and stability throughout the Caucasus."

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