Moscow Declaration Has Serious Problems, Says Hovannesian

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–A leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Thursday raised serious concerns over a declaration on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict signed between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Sunday after talks hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

“Although we see the declaration as a generally positive step which affirms the need to settle the conflict through peaceful means, the ARF has serious concerns with key points missing in the document,” Vahan Hovannesian, a member of the ARF Bureau told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.

Hovannesian, who heads the ARF’s faction in parliament, said declaration’s reaffirmation of the OSCE Minsk Group as the sole mediating format for the conflict is a positive development, which provides the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with a step-by-step approach toward recognition guaranteed by the international community.

But the declaration is also laden with serious problems, Hovannesian noted, citing its failure to solidify an agreement by Azerbaijan to officially renounce the use of force in resolving the conflict. Such an agreement is vital to establishing an atmosphere of constructive dialogue between the two countries, he added.

"During my presidential campaign, I kept saying that the most important factor in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations would be a legally binding agreement by both countries to renounce the use of force in resolving the conflict,” he said. “This could create an environment more conducive to dialogue.”

The absence of any mention of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as a party to the conflict in the declaration is also a serious issue, as serves to paint the conflict as one between Armenia and Azerbaijan, rather than one between the indigenous Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

Hovannesian also described as unacceptable any discussion of territorial concessions to Azerbaijan, a possibility left open for discussion in the current basic principles of negotiation issued by the OSCE Minsk Group last November.

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