By Ruzanna Stepanian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is against the return of any of the occupied Azerbaijani territories around Nagorno-Karabakh and believes that they should repopulated by Armenians instead, a representative of the governing party said on Monday.
“We are against ceding the liberated territories. We are against giving away any territory,” Giro Manoyan, the chief spokesman for Dashnaktsutyun’s worldwide ruling Bureau, said of the seven Armenian-occupied districts in Azerbaijan proper.
“The notion that Karabakh must be connected with Armenia through a single corridor is unacceptable to us,” he added in a clear reference to international mediators’ existing peace plan on Karabakh.
The plan calls for the liberation of at least six of the occupied districts before the holding of a referendum of self-determination in Karabakh. Armenia’s leadership has largely accepted this peace formula. Dashnaktsutyun leaders have never publicly rejected this stance or threatened to quit the governing coalition, in which their party is a junior partner.
Manoyan would not specify what the nationalist party will do if the authorities in Yerevan press ahead with the proposed settlement. Blaming Azerbaijan for the collapse of the latest round of peace talks, he said instead that Yerevan should stop even talking about territorial concessions to Baku.
“Given Azerbaijan’s position during the entire negotiating process, we no longer have reason to make such statements, even if they cast us in a positive light,” Manoyan told a news conference. “Because if you say the same thing for many times you will eventually start believing it. So it would be good to put an end to those statements and put the emphasis on resettlement [of the Armenian-controlled lands].”
“It is important to instill in the people the notion that repopulated territories can not be given back. That is why the resettlement must start quickly,” he said.
Manoyan also made the point that the Karabakh dispute will likely remain unresolved in the foreseeable future and that Armenia should therefore eventually formally recognize Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan. “If negotiations yield no results in two, three, five or ten years … it is clear that Armenia should either recognize Karabakh’s independence or annex it,” he said. “There is no other option.”
(Photolur photo: Giro Manoyan.)