Parliament Tells Government to Intensify Drive for Karabakh Peace

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Armenian parliament called on the government Tuesday to pursue a more proactive policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which it said would boost prospects for international recognition of the Karabakh Republic.
The resolution tasking the new government with pursuing a more vigorous Karabakh policy, was overwhelmingly adopted by the National Assembly on Tuesday with a vote of 96 to 3, with 3 abstentions. It called on Yerevan to establish closer links with the leadership of Karabakh in order to ensure the full security and defense of the republic in case of military aggression by Azerbaijan. It also called on the Armenian Government to embark on a far-reaching public relations campaign for Karabakh independence.
The resolution also tasked Yerevan with working to restore Karabakh’s seat at the negotiations, and stressed that Karabakh’s right to self-determination is "non-negotiable." The document also called on Yerevan to prepare "alternative possibilities" of achieving international recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s independence if the talks sponsored by the OSCE Minsk Group collapse.
Since 1997, the peace talks over the conflict have been conducted by the American, French and Russian co-chairmen of the Minsk Group. But Azerbaijan has been torpedoing international efforts to settle the Karabakh conflict in recent years.
In particular, President Ilham Aliev has rejected any peaceful settlement that would fall short of restoring Azerbaijani control over Karabakh. He has also said that Baku will never agree to a referendum of self-determination in the disputed enclave.
On March 14, Azerbaijan introduced a resolution in the UN General Assembly reaffirming the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and calling for withdrawal of Armenian forces from "occupied territories." The resolution passed with 39 votes. America, Russia and France voted against the resolution. Two days earlier, official Baku signaled its interest in either replacing the current Minsk Group co-chairs or outright dissolving the mediating body.
Baku’s diplomatic maneuvers have come amid an increasing belligerence in the attitude of Azerbaijani President Illham Aliyev toward Karabakh and Armenia. With Nagorno-Karabakh a major election issue this year in Azerbaijan, the Azeri president, who will be running for re-election in October, has been toughening his already bellicose position on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, threatening to re-ignite war and take back the Armenian territory by force. Earlier this month, Aliyev announced his country’s military budget would be increased this year by over 50% to $2 billion.
The announcement that Baku would be funneling more oil wealth into its military came only weeks after Azeri Armed Forces violated the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire line by attacking Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Army positions northeast of the Martakert Region and temporarily capturing a Karabakh defense position. The unprecedented scale of the attack and the threats of renewed war coming from Baku, have put Armenia and international mediators on high alert.
Shortly before resigning on April 9, former President Robert Kocharian said Armenia’should recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as an independent state if Baku pulls out of the Minsk Group process. He said Yerevan should at least strengthen its political and military links with the republic, a view, which was echoed by the Armenian parliament Tuesday.


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