The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said on Friday that it is reserving judgment on the existing international plan to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict until its complete disclosure and evaluation by the Karabakh Armenian leadership.
“We can never draw a conclusion without having a copy of the document. Every word, every comma, every phrase can be decisive in the document’s evaluation,” HAK coordinator Levon Zurabian said, commenting on the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement discussed by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents.
“Also, for us, any document can be acceptable only after it becomes acceptable to the people and the government of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Zurabian told a news conference.
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.
Armenia’s two other leading opposition forces, the Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun parties, have rejected this peace formula as unacceptable and warned President Serzh Sarkisian against accepting it.
By contrast, the HAK and its top leader, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, have been far more cautious in assessing the basic principles. In a newspaper interview published on Thursday, Ter-Petrosian pointed out that they are similar to a settlement which he unsuccessfully advocated during the final months of his 1991-1998 presidency.
HAK representatives have criticized some of Sarkisian’s Karabakh-related statements made at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) earlier this week. In particular, the president said that Armenia does not formally recognize Karabakh as an independent state because it supports the principle of territorial integrity. He also said that in case of renewed fighting in Karabakh Azerbaijan will have an “advantage” because it has long been preparing its population for war.
“I would like to believe that this was a slip of the tongue because otherwise it would mean that the president of Armenia talks on this issue from the same position as Azerbaijan’s president does,” said Zurabian. “I think that this was a slip of the tongue on his part.”
“That just needs to be quickly rectified,” he added.