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Opposition Parties Warn Against Karabakh ‘Sellout’


Armenia - The opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party holds a congress in Yerevan.

Armenia - The opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party holds a congress in Yerevan.

Two major Armenian opposition parties warned President Serzh Sarkisian on Thursday against accepting a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favored by international mediators.


The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party reaffirmed their position that the proposed basic principles of Karabakh peace envisage disproportionate Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan. They also argued that those principles have not been approved by Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership.

Zharangutyun spoke of a “criminal plot” against the Karabakh Armenians in a special statement on the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit that will take place in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday.

“We remind and caution the Armenian president who heads for Kazan that any meeting held without the presence of the legitimate representatives of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, or any document which is born from such a meeting, is legally null and void,” read the statement.

Stepan Safarian, a senior Zharangutyun member, said Sarkisian will face street protests if he formalizes Yerevan’s acceptance of the basic principles at Kazan. “If the Republic of Armenia signs a document that came into existence as a result of an illegal process excluding Nagorno-Karabakh and under Azerbaijani threats, we will not put up with that,” Safarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

The Zharangutyun statement likewise warned that Sarkisian’s “formal participation in this conspiracy will entail his effective self-resignation from the homeland and his official duty.” “In the event of such unacceptable developments, he must be prepared to legalize such resignation through the conduct of pre-term presidential elections,” it said.

Both parties represented in the Armenian parliament claimed that the peace formula at the heart of the settlement, which was first formally proposed by the U.S., Russian and French mediators in Madrid in 2007, can not lead to a lasting peace.

Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, undated.

“The Madrid principles carry a much greater danger of war than even the preservation of the status quo,” Vahan Hovannisian, Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. He would not say whether his party, which was represented in Sarkisian’s government until 2009, is also ready to stage antigovernment demonstrations.

The peace proposals envisage a gradual resolution of the Karabakh conflict that would start with Armenian withdrawal from districts in Azerbaijan proper that surround the disputed territory. Karabakh’s final status, the main sticking point, would be resolved in a future referendum.

Armenian government officials and politicians loyal to Sarkisian say the referendum would enable the Karabakh Armenians to eventually win international recognition of their de facto secession from Azerbaijan. Zharangutyun and Dashnaktsutyun dismiss this argument, saying that major territorial concessions to Baku would only jeopardize Karabakh’s security.

“I think it would be naïve to talk about surrendering territories because life shows that the Azerbaijani side uses every opportunity to broaden possibilities of bellicose statements and especially hostilities,” said Hrayr Karapetian, another senior Dashnaktsutyun figure who chairs the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security.

Karapetian predicted that Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev are unlikely to sign any major agreements in Kazan. “I’m sorry to say this because no party -- even the most national party, which I think I represent -- wants war,” he told journalists. “We want a peaceful settlement. But not at the expense of our people and our future.”

The Armenian National Congress (HAK), a larger and more influential opposition force led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, has expressed concern about some details of the framework peace accord made public so far. But unlike Zharangutyun and Dashnaktsutyun, it has not rejected the document out of hand.

In a newspaper interview published on Thursday, Ter-Petrosian pointed out that the current peace plan is very similar to a settlement which he unsuccessfully advocated during the final months of his 1991-1998 presidency.

“There is only one element that makes it different from that draft: the idea of holding a referendum on Nagorno-Karabakh’s status,” Ter-Petrosian told the “Moskovskie Novosti” daily. “But it is not backed up by anything yet … They are not talking about legal consequences of that referendum.”
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