By Emil Danielyan
President Robert Kocharian condemned international mediators and European officials through a spokesman on Wednesday for their strong criticism of the weekend referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh on a constitution declaring the disputed region an independent state.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the European Union joined the Azerbaijani government in rejecting the legitimacy of the vote that reaffirmed Karabakh’s de facto secession from Soviet Azerbaijan.
The OSCE chairman-in-office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, said it is “counter-productive to the ongoing conflict settlement process.” In a separate statement, French, Russian and U.S. diplomats co-heading the OSCE’s Minsk Group on Karabakh likewise called it “unhelpful.” A similar statement issued by Terry Davis, the Council of Europe secretary general, said the international community will not recognize the referendum outcome.
“This is an overt display of disrespect for an event of historic significance for the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,” Kocharian’s press secretary, Victor Soghomonian, was quoted by the Regnum news agency as saying.
“Such an attitude can only undermine the trust in the OSCE and the group of mediators. I believe the best thing these gentlemen -- as well as ‘commentators’ from the Council of Europe -- could have done was to keep silent,” Soghomonian snapped.
Kocharian on Monday welcomed the official referendum results that showed the overwhelming majority of voters in Karabakh approving the constitution drafted by their government. He described the vote as “another milestone in the establishment of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence.”
The authorities in Stepanakert also received a congratulatory message from the two U.S. congressmen co-chairing the 142-strong Armenian Caucasus in the House of Representatives.
(Photolur photo: Victor Soghomonian.)