By Emil Danielyan and Ruzanna Khachatrian
The ethnic Armenian leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday joined official Yerevan in blaming Azerbaijan for lack of progress in recent international peace efforts. Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian said that agreement on the main principles of a Karabakh settlement, reportedly reached by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Paris last March, appears to have collapsed.
“I understand that the Paris principles have failed [to translate into a peace accord] because of Azerbaijan,” Ghukasian said. The Karabakh leader spoke to reporters in Yerevan where he was meeting with senior Armenian officials.
Azerbaijan has so far not confirmed Armenian claims that Presidents Robert Kocharian and Heydar Aliev agreed a tentative framework deal on Karabakh at the Paris meeting mediated by their French counterpart, Jacques Chirac. Kocharian said last week that the parties made further progress at the peace talks in the Florida resort of Key West in April. Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, Kocharian said the Armenian side is not responsible for the ensued “slowdown” in the peace process, effectively blaming Aliev for the impasse.
French, Russian and US diplomats spearheading the international peace effort sounded less optimistic about prospects for a settlement after touring the zone of conflict late last month. Their visit resulted in the indefinite postponement of what was expected to be a crucial Armenian-Azerbaijani summit due in Geneva in mid-June.
“Baku is today not prepared for a solution,” Naira Melkumian, foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, declared on Monday. She said Aliev has still to specify what major concessions he is ready to make to the Armenian side.
In a public lecture at the American University of Armenia, Melkumian contended that the Armenian demand that Karabakh not be “subordinated” to Azerbaijan under any peace accord is finding growing support from the international mediators who she said now have a “more balanced approach” to the issue. She said that a viable solution to the Karabakh dispute requires an “ethno-territorial separation” of the mutually antagonistic Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples.