By Ruzanna Stepanian
The leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh is unlikely to agree to a resolution of the conflict with Azerbaijan that would require an internationally supervised referendum in the Armenian-controlled territory, a senior Karabakh official said on Monday.
Arman Melikian, a senior adviser to Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian, indicated that the authorities in Stepanakert remain opposed to the idea despite Sunday’s referendum in Montenegro that gave the tiny Balkan state internationally recognized independence.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Melikian rejected any parallels between the Montenegrin case and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, saying that the Karabakh Armenians already voted for independence nearly 15 years ago and “paid with their lives” for its results during the ensued war with Azerbaijan.
The idea of holding another referendum on the disputed region’s status is reportedly at the heart of the most recent peace proposals put forward by international mediators. Such a vote would reportedly take place within 10 to 15 years from the start of a gradual Armenian pullout from Azerbaijani territories surrounding Karabakh. Official Yerevan is understood to have accepted the formula in principle, unlike the Karabakh leadership which has expressed serious misgivings about it in recent months.
“I don’t see any prerequisites for holding a referendum in Karabakh because the view of our population is clear to us,” said Melikian. “Even if the Karabakh side agrees to it for some reason, which I don’t consider likely, I doubt that such a referendum will ever be held.” He refused to elaborate.
The referendum option is also rejected by many in Azerbaijan who believe that it will inevitably legitimize Armenian control over Karabakh.
Meanwhile, prominent politicians in Yerevan welcomed the outcome of the Montenegro referendum, saying that it was another example of the principle of self-determination taking precedence over that of the territorial integrity of nations. According to opposition leader Vazgen Manukian, the Karabakh Armenians can benefit from that precedent even if they do not hold the proposed referendum.
(Photolur photo: Arman Melikian)