By Ruzanna Kyureghian in Paris
Arkady Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), has met with officials from the French foreign ministry in Paris to discuss the long-running Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, officials said on Monday.
The NKR’s unofficial representation in Paris told RFE/RL that Ghukasian and unnamed French officials talked on Friday about “prospects for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.” It gave no other details.
The meeting took place during Karabakh leader’s trip to France aimed at raising funds from the local Armenian community for the construction of an ambulance unit in a new hospital in Stepanakert. A “radioton” broadcast by a local Armenian radio station has so far raised 30,000 Euros ($27,000), or 10 times less than French-Armenian organizations and Karabakh officials had expected.
An estimated 400,000 citizens of France are of Armenian descent.
In a weekend interview with the radio station, Ghukasian again called for Stepanakert’s involvement in the peace process. “It is absurd to think that the fate of the Karabakh people should be decided without their participation,” he said.
“I must say that everybody understands this, including representatives of both the United States…, France and Russia,” he added, referring to the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
AFP quoted Ghukasian as saying on Saturday that he will visit Moscow and Washington in coming months "to plead the cause of Karabakh." "Azerbaijan must understand that 12 years have passed and a new generation of Armenians has been born. There is a line of contact that separates the two parties, with armies on both sides, and a ceasefire that is holding," he told the French news agency.
In Baku, meanwhile, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev on Monday again dismissed Armenian arguments that Karabakh has never been a part of independent Azerbaijan and therefore should not be under Baku’s control.