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By Astghik Bedevian
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh said on Monday that they are closely following developments stemming from Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, a move that could have implications for their unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan.

The former Yugoslav province officially requested official recognition from governments worldwide, rekindling tensions between foreign powers opposing and supporting its secession from Serbia. Major European Union countries appear in no rush to recognize the potentially precedent-setting development.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said it is monitoring the situation and will not comment on it for the time being. Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has previously indicated official Yerevan’s belief that international recognition of Kosovo’s independence would set a precedent for a resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

Oskanian on Monday discussed the Kosovo-related developments with Peter Semneby, the EU’s special representative to the South Caucasus. His press service did not give furhter details of the talks.

The ethnic Armenian leadership of Karabakh takes a similar view which was reaffirmed on Monday by Ashot Ghulian, the speaker of the disputed territory’s parliament. “What is happening in Kosovo is something through which Karabakh went in September 1991 and which was upheld by a popular referendum [of independence from Azerbaijan] held in compliance with international standards,” Ghulian told RFE/RL from Stepanakert.

According to Ghulian, the Karabakh Armenians are primarily interested in seeing whether Kosovo’s independence will be recognized by the international community. “This process could create some precedent and we are waiting to see what will follow the declaration of Kosovo’s independence,” he said.

Asked whether the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic could recognize Kosovo, Ghulian said, “Nothing should be ruled out. But I think the discussions going on in international organizations right now will allow us to make the right decision.”

Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia can not serve as a blueprint for a Karabakh settlement, rejecting any parallels between the two ethnic disputes. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reaffirmed this position and rejected Kosovo’s independence declaration as “illegal” on Monday. “We are not afraid of anyone and are not trying to ensure that recognition of Kosovo’s independence does not lead to recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence,” a ministry spokesman, Khazar Ibrahim, said, according to the Azerbaijani Trend news agency.

(Photolur photo: Oskanian and Semneby pictured during the meeting.)
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