STEPANAKERT, BERDZOR, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic—The US Co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassador James Warlick, was greeted by angry protesters in Artsakh’s capital Stepanakert and in Berdzor (Lachin) in the Kashatagh district, for his proposed six-point plan unveiled earlier this month, which called into question’s Lachin’s viability as part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
In Stepanakert, protesters gathered at the city’s Renaissance Square and issued their own six-point statement in which outlines the position of Artsakh’s youth vis-à-vis the conflict resolution process was outlined.
Below is the text of the statement:
First, the sides of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict are the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict is possible only with the direct and full-fledged participation of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the negotiation process. This is not optional. Otherwise any decision will remain on paper.
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic/Republic of Artsakh has not mandated anyone to decide on its behalf either on the issue of status or any other.
Second, the borders of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic are inviolable. Throughout the millennia –long history of Armenian Artsakh it was the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region that was an interim status, which not only failed to guarantee the security of Artsakh Armenians but lead to the partition of Artsakh and exodus of its Armenian population.
Third, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic has no territories to «return» to any state. Moreover, it is a claimant to its territories that are under Azeri control. The Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement cannot be based on selective interpretation of the principles of international law by Azerbaijan or anyone.
Fourth, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was formed through free expression of will of its people in line with all norms and principles of international law. Hence, any attempt to blockade the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is a blatant violation of international law.
Fifth, all issues concerning refugees and IDPs should be settled on the basis of reciprocity and only after the recognition of the final status of the NKR.
Sixth and finally, after the indulgence of the brutal crime by an Azerbaijani axe murderer of a sleeping Armenian officer in Budapest, any promise of international guarantees is nothing but a deception. The ceasefire in the zone of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict has been maintained for 20 years exclusively due to the balance of forces. Hence, the only guarantor of the security of the people of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is the NKR Defense Army.
In Lachin, Warlick and his French and Russian counterparts, Jacques Faure and Igor Popov were met by angry demonstrators who opposed the proposed territorial concessions by the Minsk Group.
Several dozen protesters holding posters blocked a road in the town of Lachin, which was renamed Berdzor after being captured by the Karabakh Armenians in 1992. They stopped a motorcade of cars carrying the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and other officials and made them listen to their demands, reported RFE/RL.
“We want the co-chairs to know that we gained independence in 1991 and our lands cannot be a subject of haggling,” said one young man. “They need to understand that we are the masters of our land,” reported RFE/RL.
“Should Armenians again be deported? That’s absurd,” another protester said, referring to one of the Basic Principles of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict put forward by the United States, Russia and France.
“We respect the rights of those who demonstrate peacefully even when we disagree,” Warlick tweeted afterwards. “In Lachin, I listened,” he said, posting a picture of himself talking to the protesters.
Speaking to reporters in Stepanakert on Sunday, Warlick said he was surprised by the unprecedented protest but called his conversation with its participants useful. “Nagorno-Karabakh is so beautiful and I’m so impressed to see so many young people,” he said. “It’s our duty to ensure … this new generation lives in peace,” reported RFE/RL.
“We are not coming here to impose any settlements,” Warlick stressed. A compromise peace deal must be acceptable to all conflicting parties, he said.