By Emil Danielyan
The international community has come to terms with Nagorno-Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan and is now ready to recognize its de facto independence, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian declared on Wednesday.
“Whereas six years ago nobody was letting us even dream about Karabakh not being part of Azerbaijan [under a future peace accord], today not only we but also the international community, including the co-chairs of the [OSCE’s] Minsk Group, are freely talking about that,” he said.
“Today the fact of Karabakh not being part of Azerbaijan is real, and the international community looks at it in a very normal manner. This doesn’t mean they will publicly affirm it. But I can state for certain that they consider that a real option.”
Oskanian was apparently alluding to a 2001 peace plan on Karabakh which was nearly signed by the conflicting parties. According to Western press reports, the plan put forward by French, Russian and U.S. mediators called for Karabakh’s formal incorporation into Armenia in return for the latter guaranteeing a transport corridor between Azerbaijan and its Nakhichevan exclave.
The Armenian side maintains that Azerbaijan’s late President Heydar Aliev backtracked on the deal following a series of peace talks with President Robert Kocharian in Paris and Florida. However, Baku claims that no such agreements were reached at the time. It at the same time regularly criticizes the Minsk Group mediators for doing little to restore Azerbaijani control of Karabakh.
Oskanian made the comments in the Armenian parliament in response to a question from an opposition lawmaker who expressed concern at the current state of Karabakh peace talks. There has been mounting speculation in recent weeks about a new peace deal that would require an Armenian withdrawal from some of the occupied Azerbaijani territories around Karabakh before a decision on the disputed enclave’s status. Official Yerevan has not explicitly denied those rumors.