By Ruzanna Khachatrian
An opinion poll publicized by a leading Yerevan-based think tank on Friday shows that less than one percent of Armenians support Nagorno-Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijani rule as part of a possible peaceful settlement.
The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) said nearly 60 percent of some 2,000 people around the country interviewed by its researchers recently want Karabakh to formally become a part of Armenia, while 39 percent of them would agree to its independence. The pollsters said only about a third of those surveyed are against the return of the Armenian-controlled territories in Azerbaijan proper under any circumstances, the others being ready to trade them for Karabakh’s independence or a lasting peace.
According to the poll, thirty percent of ordinary Armenians regard Russia as the most trustworthy of international mediators and only three percent believe the United States tends to have a pro-Armenian stance on the issue.
This perception contrasts sharply with the findings of a separate poll conducted by the ACNIS among 50 political and public policy analysts. Eighteen percent of them said U.S. interests in the region are good for a pro-Armenian solution to the Karabakh dispute. Only ten percent mentioned Russia in that regard.
The ACNIS survey confirms the strong Armenian opposition to any deal that would restore Baku’s control of Karabakh. It comes amid a fresh international push to end the conflict.
Presenting the poll findings, the head of the center, former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian, said political tensions stemming from last year’s disputed presidential election have put the administration of President Robert Kocharian in a weaker position to negotiate a settlement that would public expectations in Armenia and Karabakh.
“The Armenian authorities’ foreign policy mandate is indeed in doubt,” Hovannisian said. “That is directly connected with last year’s elections. The weak mandate can only negatively affect the upcoming processes.”
(Photolur photo: Raffi Hovannisian.)