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Armenian Ruling Party, Opposition React to EU ‘Deadline’ for Karabakh Deal


Armenia -- Eduard Sharmazanov, spokesman for the ruling Republican Party (archive photo)

Armenia -- Eduard Sharmazanov, spokesman for the ruling Republican Party (archive photo)

Armenia’s ruling party has embraced the desire of the European Union to see a speedy solution to the longstanding conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, but is pointing an accusatory finger at Azerbaijan as the party obstructing progress.


Eduard Sharmazanov, a senior lawmaker and spokesman for President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Thursday that the international community should exert pressure on the Azerbaijani side to get the sides to finalize their agreement around the basic principles of settling the Karabakh conflict.

In his remarks, Sharmazanov, in particular, reacted to the statement by Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, who, speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, welcomed the fact that Armenia and Azerbaijan “re-committed themselves to the diplomatic process and to finding a peaceful solution” at their latest Russia-hosted talks, but stressed that the EU needed “to see more than that in the coming months.”

“The parties need to redouble their efforts to find an agreement before the end of this year. This would then happen before domestic priorities take over in 2012: elections in Armenia in 2012, and in Azerbaijan in 2013,” said Ashton.

The HHK spokesman positively assessed “the desire of all partners, including Mrs. Ashton to see a speedy Karabakh settlement”, but said in order to get to that settlement “Azerbaijan must assume a constructive position.”

“Azerbaijan won’t stop talking about a military solution to the conflict, boasting of its armament and propagandizing racism and Armenophobia. And it continues to insist it has nothing to concede,” stressed Sharmazanov.

“How can we make progress with this approach [of Azerbaijan]? I expect progress if the Azerbaijani side takes a constructive position and pressure on the Azerbaijani side gets increased, because Azerbaijan as well as the [OSCE Minsk Group] co-chair countries should be well aware that only one solution is possible here – mutual concessions,” said the HHK spokesman, stressing that the international community should clearly state that it is the Azerbaijani side that stymies the settlement process.

Sharmazanov also stressed the need for Nagorno-Karabakh to become a full party to the negotiations as a major factor of achieving a breakthrough.

“Otherwise we will witness another example of disregard for the right of peoples to self-determination,” the HHK representative said.

Armenia -- Levon Zurabian, a leading member of the opposition Armenian National Congress gives an interview to RFE/RL, Yerevan, 06Jul2011
Meanwhile, a representative of the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) believes some progress was made at the Kazan talks and this progress now allows the international community to use the momentum to make a fresh push for a peace deal.

“The international pressure is now so huge that there is a fairly high probability of achieving progress. It doesn’t look like an imitation. It is evident that the international community, represented by Russia, the United States and France as the main mediating powers, is making unprecedented efforts towards resolving the conflict, and this would not be the case unless they considered the possibility of progress very real,” senior HAK member Levon Zurabian said in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

The chief coordinator of the HAK, an opposition alliance led by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian, shares the opinion voiced by the EU official that if no agreement is reached by the end of this year there will be fewer possibilities to sign any document on Karabakh in 2012 in view of approaching elections.

Commenting on the statements of official Yerevan that a breakthrough at Kazan did not become possible through Azerbaijan’s fault, Zurabian said that it was a secondary issue and that instead of blaming the parties the co-chair will try to get a real solution to the problem, thereby avoiding renewed hostilities in Karabakh.
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