Pan-Armenian Summit Says Karabakh Independence Non-Negotiable, Demands Yerevan Break Off Turkey Negotiations

ARF Conference Draws 120 Delegates From Around World to Address Diplomatic Crisis


STEPANAKERT– A two-day Pan-Armenian conference in Stepanakert, organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, concluded on Saturday with a firm resolution demanding Yerevan make immediate and drastic corrections to its flawed approach to both the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks and the ongoing negotiations to normalize relations with Turkey.

The resolution, as it related to the Karabakh Conflict, called on the Armenian government to refrain from signing any frameworka greement through international mediators that would compromise the security and independence of Karbakh. The resolution also demanded the immediate return of Stepanakert as a full-fledged party to the negotiation process. In regards to Armenia’s rapprochement with Turkey, the resolution demanded that Armenia immediately break off from the negotiations.

The summit, held under the patronage of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian, was to address snowballing concerns in Armenian society over the precarious course of Armenian-Turkish relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations. It was attended by 120 delegates representing political, academic, public and business circles in Karabakh, Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.

The appeal came a day after the presidents of the United States, Russia and France issued a joint statement at the G-8 Summit in Italy urging the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to quickly “resolve the few differences remaining between them” in order to finalize an agreement on a comprehensive settlement to the Karabakh conflict. The Armenian and Azeri presidents are to meet in Moscow on July 17 under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group, where they will be asked to endorse an updated version of the Madrid Principles, first issued to Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2007.

The conference also occurred amid a regional tour by the US, French and Russian co-chairs of the Minsk Group, in which they visited Yerevan and Baku to prepare for the upcoming talks.

The basic principles of the Madrid Document, published for the first time in this joint statement, require “the return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control and an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-government.” The Madrid Principles also envision a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh,” as well as a future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh “through a legally binding expression of will,” and the right of “internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence.”

Azeri president Ilham Aliyev alleged in an interview on Russian State Television on July 4 that consensus had been reached among the parties to begin the withdrawal from the liberated territories and that that Karabakh would not have a corridor linking it with Armenia. He added that these principles had been agreed upon without any discussion on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Official Yerevan has yet to refute this statement.

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian has only denied that the updated Madrid Principles are final. Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference in Yerevan Monday with visiting US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Nalbandian assured that “some of the details” presented in the joint statement were still “being negotiated,” while others “have not been discussed” yet. Steinberg,  dispatched to Armenia immediately after the joint statement was released, was to arrive in Baku Tuesday.

The resolution issued at the close of last weekend’s conference called on Sarkisian not to sign the updated document. “The conference believes that adopting any international document without direct participation of the key party to the conflict, i.e. the authorities of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, is condemnable, inadmissible, and devoid of any legal power,” the resolution said, adding that the OSCE Minsk Group’s calls for an expedited settlement of the conflict based on the Madrid Principles “is not in line with the nature of the conflict and its history,” and “bypasses and ignores the already legitimately expressed will of the Nagorno-Karabakh people.”

The resolution also noted that “any weakening of the security belt around the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic without restoring its territorial integrity will increase the likelihood of war and thus threaten the safety of Artsakh’s population.”

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 ahead of the establishment of an independent Azerbaijan and reaffirmed that independence in a statewide Constitutional referendum in 2006. The declaration of independence was met with a declaration of war by Azerbaijan, which attempted to invade and annex the historically Armenian region.

Karabakh President Sahakian, who spoke at the conference, also underscored the need to have Karabakh reintegrated into the peace process, adding that it would be “impossible to realize any solution without the consent of the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.”

In his speech, Sahakian also condemned ongoing efforts by Turkey to link the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to its rapprochement with Armenia. The Karabakh President stressed that no agreement between Armenia and Turkey should be reached at the expense of concessions on Karabakh.

Armenia and Turkey have been involved in an almost year-long effort, backed by the United States, to normalize their relations. The negotiations, which began on the principle of open borders with no preconditions, have now stalled as Ankara has conditioned the establishment of diplomatic ties with Yerevan and the opening of its closed border to major concessions by Armenia to Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict.

The Stepanakert conference underscored President Sahakian’s concerns on the matter and urged Yerevan to re-evaluate its failed rapprochement with Turkey before it’s too late.

“Turkey continues to establish preconditions, consistently increases her biased role in the Artsakh issue; and in reality, instead of heading for the normalization of relations, Turkey successfully misguides the international community by thus removing the Armenian issue from the agenda,” the conference resolution said.

In this context, the resolution reiterated earlier warnings by the ARF that Turkey was exploiting the negotiations process to wrench concessions from Armenia and prevent the passage of US resolutions reaffirming the Armenian Genocide.

The resolution particularly focused on a joint resolution issued by the Armenian and Turkish foreign Ministers on April 22–the eve of the 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide–announcing a “roadmap” for normalizing relations. Turkey, which had threatened to derail talks with Armenia if US President Barack Obama recognized the Armenian Genocide, had made no secret of its attempts to use the negotiations process with Armenia to dissuade the American leader from recognizing the crime.

“The authorities of the Republic of Armenia should not allow Turkey to use the imitation of negotiations for scoring additional political and advocacy points in the international arena,” the resolution said.

“Signing the joint statement of April 22, 2009, was a wrong and a short-sighted move,” the resolution added, noting new dangers that have surfaced as “the power centers of the world” try to impose an accelerated solution to Karabakh conflict by “steering the course of Armenia-Turkey relations in the direction which is beneficial for Turkey alone.”

The document noted that “Armenia and Turkey, as neighbor states, will eventually have to establish normal relations,” but the resolution stresses that those relations can be established only after Turkey lifts the blockade, recognizes the Armenian Genocide, and restores the rights of the Armenian people.

But these conditions, which are part of Armenia’s national security doctrine, have “de facto ceased to be a guiding principle of Armenia’s foreign policy,” the resolution said, adding that “any attempt to turn the fact of the Genocide into a matter of a historical debate” is as inadmissible as “normalizing Armenia-Turkey relations at the expense of Armenia’s sovereignty and viability and the rights of future generations.”

Considering those developments, the resolution said the authorities in Yerevan have “a duty to revisit and reconsider the course of public interaction initiated one year ago and its negative outcomes, and should reveal to the international community Turkey’s true intentions and discontinue the negotiations.”

Hrant Markarian, the chairman of the ARF Bureau, had stressed those points in his remarks on the opening day of the conference Friday. “It would be naïve to think that it is possible to make a concession in any national issue without jeopardizing the whole [national cause],” Markarian said, adding that he saw a very real danger with “heavy consequences” to follow as a result of the “wrong course” being taken in Armenia-Turkey relations and the ongoing Karabakh settlement process.

Armenia’s former foreign minister, Vartan Oskanian, also touched on those points during his own remarks. Discussing the complex diplomatic realities that have emerged since the April 22 statement, Oskanian said attempts by Turkey to drive a wedge between the Armenian nation have made it all the more difficult to overcome the challenges facing the two Armenian states. The challenges, he continued will demand national unity “along the lines of a proactive forward-looking campaign.”

In addressing these issues, the resolution also demanded “confidence, realism and political will from the incumbent and future authorities of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.” The resolution also said that both governments must be “guided solely and exclusively by the interests of the Armenian nation and the sense of responsibility before generations to come” in these two “critical issues.”

Oskanian stressed that the time had come to mobilize the nation’s resources behind a clearly articulated set of national demands that corresponds to the “current reality and takes into account Artsakh’s seventeen years of independence.”

In passing the resolution, the delegates–who came from 25 countries–reiterated their determination “to protect the interests and the rights of the [Armenian] nation and the state and to secure [its] independent and dignified place in the family of civilized nations, using all possible and impossible means.”

Underscoring the document’s analysis and recommendations for both issues is a reiteration of the potential for the Republic of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora to “become an organized power.” The document states this is possible if all three entities act “as parts of the whole” and establish a format for exercising joint will to employ their capacities and prove to their “neighbors and centers of power of the world that the Armenian nation shall not tolerate infringement of [its] legitimate rights.”

Read the translated resolution


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  1. Serge S. said:

    I agree with the resolution 100%, however I don’t think the resolution is gone far enough. The resolution should also call for resignation of both Serge Sarkisian and Edward Nalbandian and place somebody interim till new election is called up. Let’s put somebody competent in charge.

  2. hye4life said:

    Once again ARF (Dashnaktsutioon) is on the right side of the things, placing break pedals on a dangerous moves which Mr. Serge Sarkissian and Edward Nalbandian have brought up upon Armenian nation. I truly hope armenians will gather around this important summit and the declaration which it produced and function more united. We need to have a single voice when it comes to Artsagh (Karabakh) and Turkey, which is not to give up/surrender or compromise more than what we have to gain in return.

  3. Katia K. said:

    I agree with the resolution, but I also think it fell short of its message. Turkey, cheated when it said it will agree on negotiating to open its borders with no preconditions. Turkey will never stop cheating. We should not deal with a nation that cheated us of lands, life and property, and now wants to chip away at us some more. Since Turkey dared to make the opening of its borders contingent upon Karabagh returning its surrounding lands, viable for its security, back to Azerbaijan, we should make the opening of the Turkish borders contingent upon our lands in eastern Turkey returned to us, the Genocide recognized and reparations mad!. Turkey will sure disagree to the above, then we should disagree on returning the Karabagh lands back. This is the time to parade our dessicrated rights in front of the world stage while we have their ears. We are failing in our propaganda war miserably! If this was happening to the Jews, they would have been outraged, and the whole world would have know about it! Turkey wants US TO RETURN LAND!? Land by the way that was historically OURS!!! Noone is making this fact clear to the world. Karabagh was always historically our land, until Stalin with his divide and conquer policy, handed it to Azerbaijan. No land should be returned. I don’t think opening the Turkish borders right now is such a good idea either. That will be the easiest way to Turks to infiltrate Armenia, take over the economy, settle there… and I will leave the rest to your imagination. The borders should open when Armenia is ready. The people in Armenia and Karabagh should be informed about all the details of the dealings going on, and at the end of the day, they should be the ones deciding.

  4. jerry sabounjian said:

    I agree with Katia that we are loosing the propaganda war badly. By simply ignoring them is a grave mistake. We should make propaganda to fit our interests, such as spreading rumors that the Azeri president has agreed to the total independance of Karabakh or they have agreed to let go of the territories the Armenians captured for security, and so on.

  5. Grish Begian said:

    All these cosmetic resolutions is based on Azerbaijani’s OIL….we Armenians should remember, that Stalin gave Artshakh and Nakhijevan to Azerbaijan only for their bloody OIL…

  6. Samvel Topchian said:

    There should not be any negotiations with Turkey after what we see they are trying to do – connect it to Artsakh issue , demands of historical comission etc. Serzh Sargsyan can make a STEP if he will refuse to go to Turkey to watch the soccer game … I hope he has a TV set in his residence … So there is no need to sit next to the person , wich can not keep his word … In other words , how anyone can shake the hand of the person , who disrespects You and all your people ?
    The time to become a sharper President with selfrespect is here … Just do it and You will have all Armenians from all over the World behind You , Serzh Sargsyan …
    Declare the mass repatriation program , liberate the economy and political life in Armenia , give to the Armenians what they deserve by just the fact that they call themselves Armenians … Let’s prepare the Bill toghether – The Armenian Question Bill to the whole World – they owe us a lot …
    Well , this is the picture of a True National Leader … Can he do it ? I hope so …

  7. Katia K. said:

    Artsakh was ours and will remain ours. Mr. Azeri President, Alyev, should read our lips: “NO!” Where are our leaders and our fighters from the past? They are probably turning in their graves! This is the time, to tell Russia, the US and Europe,:IT IS ENOUGH WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO OUR PEOPLE, because of your interests and because of oil”. This is the time, when we urgently need a UNIFYING, STRONG LEADER, AND A VERY LOUD AND EFFECTIVE PROPAGANDA MACHINE. I agree with the resolution that Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora should work on forging ONE UNIFIED FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA. Anything short of that, is making the government in Armenia lose credibility, the Diasporan efforts are being majorly let down, and the poor Karabaghtzies…. They fought so hard to get their lands back, no nasty negotiation over oil and Azeri interests should take those sacred lands back….

  8. Nubar Badiguian said:

    1.-We need Serge Sargsyan and Eduard Nalbandyan to declare in a categorical way that no land will be given back unless Gharapagh people have their say, and the Western Armenian lands are given back.
    2.- Serge Sargsyan, should refuse to attend the soccer game in Turkey.
    3.- Serge Sargsyan, should stand up and say it loudly to Turkey, no negotiations, until our lands are given back. Turkey has been cheating us from the early 20th century, we cannot trust them. No more going begging to the World Bank or the IMF. He should invite all diaspora industrialists to come together, roll up their sleeves and put the economy working. Then, start a repatriation program, inviting enough workers to occupy the posts created.
    4.- Serge Sargsyan, should request all travel agency advertisements for travel to Turkey, be taken down and replaced by travel advertisements to Gharapagh.
    5.- Serge Sargsyan should encourage the Armenian industry as well as the exports, and reduce our reliance on cheap Turkish products.

    We need leaders who will earn their medals.

    Can Serge Sargsyan accomplish all the above, and thus receive the golden medal himself from all Armenians of the world?.

  9. B Kalpakian said:

    Here is what the solution is –no solution! The status quo is in our favor. Let the President of Armenia talk and talk and talk–but not dare sign anything! Let him use the Diaspora–our Armenian nation in exile as an excuse! Everyday Armenia and Karabagh are getting stronger. Holding the land is the key. Massive organized economic support from the Diaspora is needed to counteract the petrodollars flowing to Aliyev’s war chest. There should not be a deal signed in our lifetime with those treacheous countries that have sucked our blood for centuries. Signing a deal will force us to uphold our side but we will get little in return. No to a deal! Just look at the Middle Eastern country that has been doing lots of talking for the last 60 years–and nothing has been signed. Armenia and Karabagh should not be forced to sign while staring at the barrel of a gun. All Armenians throughout the world–support the homeland in any way you can. Sending money, moving to Armenia/Karabagh, visiting, writing to lawmakwers, any way you can helps our cause. This is a golden moment in our history. Do not be afraid. God will protect us.

  10. Gayane said:

    Hello fellow readers..

    As I read your comments, I came to realize that I am not only in this. I felt the change and the fire that is burning in each of you and that gave me hope.. I know that there are still people that truly care about our mother land and want to see our nation free of on-going denial full of lies and manipulations not only from the Turkish government but also from our own government. We have shed too much blood to take the land that is ours..If we back away from it we will then disrespect all those who parished for this cause..What is wrong with our government?.. We definitely need new ruler..Someone who will protect his people and his land. . This article states many strong points and one that I know will get us through this fight against unjustice and against obvious threats and manipulations is to stand AS ONE and fight AS ONE .. without unity and without working together, we will not win.. I am not a politician, nor a government official but it is crystal clear that the tactics that we have been using is not successful and we have to find a better way.. and by working together is not only a better way but the ONLY way..

    Hope we see victory in the near future and allow our people to finally take a deep breath..