By Karine Kalantarian
Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian predicted on Tuesday that the internationally sponsored peace talks on the future of his disputed enclave will remain stalled at least until next year’s presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Ghukasian said that the upcoming meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents is unlikely to result in a breakthrough, arguing the approaching elections in their countries increasingly “limit their [peace-making] capacities.”
“I have no expectations before the elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he told reporters in Yerevan. “I suppose that the mediators will manage the negotiating process more actively after the elections.”
Presidents Robert Kocharian and Heydar Aliev are due to hold yet another face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit in the Czech capital Prague later this month. The two men are seeking reelection in presidential ballots scheduled for February and October 2003, and are therefore unlikely to accept unpopular peace deals. Each leader is facing more hard-line challengers opposed to major concessions to the other conflicting party.
Ghukasian was in the Armenian capital on his way to the United States where he will attend a fundraising telethon on November 28 which the Karabakh authorities hope will generate more Diaspora contributions to the ongoing construction of a modern highway linking the northern and southern parts of Karabakh. Similar telethons, organized by Armenian-American organizations, have raised substantial sums for various infrastructure projects in Armenia and Karabakh over the past decade.