STEPANAKERT (Armradio)–Armenia’should immediately recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh and sign a military agreement with it, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Political Director Giro Manoyan told reporters during a press conference Tuesday.
Azerbaijan has overstepped all boundries in its attempts to remove the mediation of the Karabakh Conflict from the format of the OSCE Minsk Group, he explained.
Since 1997, peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh have been conducted by the American, French and Russian co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group. Negotiations have, however, slowed to an inch as Azerbaijan has been trying to unravel the process by casting doubt on the usefulness of the Minsk Group format.
At the end of last year, the Minsk Group tried to persuade the two sides to accept a statement of basic principles, as a first step towards breaking the deadlock over Nagorno Karabakh’s future–but no agreement was reached.
President Aliyev has been steadily increasing his war rhetoric over the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Karabakh is a major election issue in Azerbaijan. With negotiations for a peaceful settlement at a standstill, Aliyev has been threatening to take Nagorno-Karabakh back by military force.
On March 4, Azeri Armed Forces violated the Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire line and opened fire on Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Army positions northeast of the Martakert Region, temporarily capturing a Karabakh defense position.
The attack, which was followed by protracted skirmishes throughout the month, was considered by Armenian officials and international mediators as unprecedented in its scale.
Meanwhile, on March 14, the UN General Assembly adopted an Azeri drafted resolution, with a vote of 39, reaffirming the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, reiterating the right of return of internally displaced Azerbaijanis, and calling for withdrawal of Armenian forces from "occupied territories."
The move was preceded by requests on March 12 from official Baku to the OSCE’ secretariat for information on how to dissolve the Minsk Group.
Armenia has repeatedly voiced its support for a compromise solution reached through peaceful negotiations in the Minsk Group format, but according to Manoyan, it’s time to show Azerbaijan that Armenia is ready to take steps toward securing the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic if Azerbaijan continues its efforts to try and remove the conflict from the Minsk Group format.
When asked by a reporter about the status of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the US House of Representatives, Manoyan commented that H.Res.106 is still on the agenda. The resolution will be brought to a vote again, he assured, adding that the Armenian lobby and its friends in Washington have been waiting for the right opportunity to reintroduce the legislation.
The principled position on the resolution by the Democratic presidential candidates makes it likely that the US Congress will reopen discussions on the issue, he said.
Manoyan also discussed the recent US Ambassadorial nominee to Armenia. He said that the Armenian National Committee of America, will soon release its assessment of American President George Bushes nominee, Marie Yovanovitch.
Washington has big interest in the region, Armenian in particular, Manoyan said.