Baku Faces Ultimatum, Must Renounce Military Option, Says ARF Leader

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Azerbaijan must now sign a legal document pledging it will not resort to military force in seeking a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation said on Monday.

Negotiations to resolve the conflict can bear fruit and promote peace only when Azerbaijan signs a legal document with the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh pledging that it will not use force or the threat of force, said Vahan Hovannesian, the head of the party’s parliamentary faction.

Hovanessian’s remarks came after the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday called for a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after peace talks near Moscow.

Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, alongside their Russian counterpart hosting the summit, Dmitry Medvedv, Sunday signed a joint declaration pledging to “continue their work;to agree on a political settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

The declaration, which reaffirmed the role of the OSCE Minsk Group as the conflict’s sole mediating body, also echoed a number of fundamental principles on the Karabakh conflict, outlined by Hovanessian and the ARF during Armenia’s presidential elections in February.

“The joint pledge to continue negotiation within the Minsk Group format is Armenia’s diplomatic victory,” Hovanessian said. “Any other form of mediation or discussion on the conflict is secondary.”

“But the Karabakh declaration is an outline of the two sides’ intentions, rather than a binding document," said ARF parliamentary faction member Artsvik Minasyan, echoing Hovannesian’s calls for Azerbaijan to sign a document rejecting military force as a solution to the conflict.

Minasyan also stressed that Nagorno-Karabakh must be allowed to take part in the negotiations process as a full-fledged party to the conflict. “Establishment of peace in the region is impossible without Karabakh’s participation.”

In September, the ARF issued a declaration reaffirming its position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in which it called for international guarantees for Karabakh’s security and self determination.

“There can be no alternatives to the international community’s respect for the right of the people of Karabakh to self-determination and freedom,” the document, released on the 17th anniversary of Karabakh’s independence day, said.

The declaration also reiterated the need for international and legal guarantees by Azerbaijan that it will not use force to resolve the conflict, citing Azerbaijan’s role as the aggressor in the Karabakh-Azerbaijan war and its ongoing threats to relaunch a war to "take back" Karabakh.

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