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Kocharian Upbeat On Karabakh Independence


Armenia - A screenshot of former President Robert Kocharian's interview with Nagorno-Karabakh television, 31Aug2011.

Armenia - A screenshot of former President Robert Kocharian's interview with Nagorno-Karabakh television, 31Aug2011.

Time favors the Armenian side in the unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence will eventually be recognized by the international community, according to former President Robert Kocharian.


“One thing is clear. In modern history, this kind of problems have been solved in favor of self-determined peoples. All of them,” Kocharian told Karabakh state television in an interview aired late Wednesday.

Kocharian gave the examples of newly independent states like East Timor, Kosovo and South Sudan that won international recognition as a result of secessionist conflicts. He also pointed to Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s Russian-backed secession from Georgia and said the Palestinian push for international recognition will also end in success soon.

“In that sense, time is definitely working in our favor,” said the man who led Karabakh during the 1992-1994 war with Azerbaijan and served as Armenia’s president from 1998-2008.

“But one must not think that after the recognition of Karabakh’s independence life will change drastically,” continued Kocharian. “One should live as if that happened long ago.

“We don’t need anybody’s seal of approval for the recognition of our independence. It’s an accomplished fact. We should live and work in full confidence and reinforce the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The rest will come in due course.”

Kocharian’s successor Serzh Sarkisian, also a native and wartime leader of Karabakh, similarly cited the South Sudan precedent in a speech before senior Armenian diplomats on Tuesday. “The same will inevitably happen with Artsakh (Karabakh),” he said.

A senior aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denounced Sarkisian’s remarks on Wednesday, rejecting any parallels between the conflicts in Karabakh and South Sudan. Novruz Mammadov also dismissed Sarkisian’s fresh warning that Azerbaijan will suffer another military defeat if it attempts to forcibly regain control over the Armenian-populated territory.

“Under the current geopolitical conditions Armenia is not going to be able to preserve its [military] advantage over the long term,” Mammadov told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service.

Kocharian spoke to the Stepanakert-broadcaster ahead of the 20th anniversary of Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan that will be officially marked on Friday. He spent much of the interview discussing the events of the early 1990s and his personal role in the Karabakh war.

Kocharian, who turned 57 on Wednesday, spoke of “serious progress” in Karabakh but warned the unrecognized republic’s current leaders against complacency. “I have no doubts that everything will end up very well, but we have no right to be satisfied with the existing situation,” he said.

The ex-president, who has kept a low profile since handing over power to Sarkisian in April 2008, skirted a question about his biggest achievements and failings in office. “Let’s leave it to others to gauge our work,” he said.

Kocharian further described as “difficult” his April 1997 decision to accept then Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s “request” to become Armenia’s prime minister. Less than a year later, Ter-Petrosian was forced to step down by Kocharian and other key members of his cabinet.

They strongly disagreed with Ter-Petrosian’s view that Armenia’s sustainable development is impossible without a Karabakh settlement and that Yerevan should therefore make more concessions to Baku.

Ter-Petrosian reaffirmed that view after making a dramatic political comeback in late 2007.
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