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Opposition Party Resists ‘Illegal’ Karabakh Deal


By Ruzanna Stepanian and Anush Martirosian
An Armenian political party opposed to the current administration has expressed its strong concern over possible concessions in the continuing Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh that it says Armenia’s current leadership has not been empowered to agree to.

The Social-Democratic Hunchak Party, which is a member of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s opposition alliance, issued a statement Monday criticizing President Serzh Sarkisian for formally ending the hopes of the unrecognized republic to regain its status as a party to the internationally mediated peace talks by signing a declaration, along with the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia, calling for a direct dialogue between Yerevan and Baku.

It said the international organizations pushing for a speedy resolution of the conflict would bear responsibility for any document concerning the future of Nagorno-Karabakh signed by Armenia’s leadership that, the party holds, lacks the delegated rights from the Armenian people to act on their behalf.

“It is Nagorno-Karabakh that is the real party to the conflict and Stepanakert has not made any decision authorizing Yerevan, let alone Armenia’s current illegitimate authorities, to negotiate a deal or make decisions on its behalf,” the Hunchak Party said in its statement.

Gurgen Yeghiazarian, a senior party representative, said the Moscow declaration has confirmed the ‘disgraceful’ fact that the Karabakh conflict has two sides, i.e. Azerbaijan and Armenia, and therefore has completely ousted Nagorno-Karabakh from the current peace process.

Another senior party figure Vahan Shirkhanian alleged that the solution offered to the sides is leading directly to war.

“International structures lay an ever-acting landmine in the South Caucasus that may explode any time they wish. Getting the Karabakh conflict resolved this way means that the next war will be much fiercer and destructive for all peoples of the South Caucasus,” said Shirkhanian, who served as Armenia’s deputy defense minister throughout the 1990s.

“It is vitally important that the people and authorities of Karabakh present their clear standpoint on the current situation.”

Another former deputy defense minister Artur Aghabekian also called unacceptable the format of negotiations that does not include Nagorno-Karabakh as a party.

Talking to RFE/RL on Monday, the pro-establishment lawmaker, who currently heads the parliamentary standing committee for defense, internal affairs and national security, disagreed with the declaration as far as this fact is concerned, but stopped short of dramatizing the consequences of the nonbinding document.

“Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan still have a long way to go before they reach a settlement of the problem,” said Aghabekian, of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

“The Armenian society is not prepared for a Karabakh solution based on the so-called Madrid principles. Since 1994, Azerbaijan’s society has not heard anything but calls for maintaining the country’s territorial integrity and threats to resolve the matter militarily, failing all other options. The population of Nagorno-Karabakh is not ready for a solution either. And if the peoples are not ready, the authorities cannot solve the problem.”
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