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Karabakh Armenians Downbeat On Peace With Azerbaijan


Nagorno-Karabakh - The presidential administration building in Stepanakert.

Nagorno-Karabakh - The presidential administration building in Stepanakert.

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is unlikely to be resolved in the foreseeable future despite more Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks planned by mediators, a senior Karabakh Armenian official said on Friday.

“We too want the status quo to change and the conflict to be finally resolved,” said Davit Babayan, the spokesman for Karabakh President Bako Sahakian. “The parties imagine that resolution in different ways. Azerbaijan wants a return to the situation that existed before 1988, which is impossible, whereas we believe that the two states must recognize each other.”

“There will definitely be no return to 1988. Given Azerbaijan’s current behavior we believe that unfortunately the conflict will hardly be resolved in the foreseeable future,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in Yerevan.

The Karabakh peace process has been essentially deadlocked since a failed meeting of Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents held in Kazan, Russia two years ago. Each conflicting party accuses the other of rejecting a framework peace accord drafted by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov suggested earlier this month that the protracted search for peace will intensify after the recent end of a yearlong electoral cycle in Armenia and Azerbaijan’s next presidential election due in October. The mediators are already trying to arrange another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit. It is not yet clear, however, whether the summit could take place before the Azerbaijani ballot.

Armenia -- David Babayan, the speaker of NK President administrarion, undated.

Armenia -- David Babayan, the speaker of NK President administrarion, undated.

Babayan sounded pessimistic about further Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations. “I think that negotiations will continue, but it would be very, very premature to expect a breakthrough,” he said. “Why? Because the parties and Azerbaijan in the first in stance are not ready. [Baku] doesn’t want to take the reality into account. It is trying to carry on with the same philosophy, to suppress and destroy the Artsakh (Karabakh) Armenians.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev blamed the Armenians for the deadlock earlier this week, again accusing them of stalling for time. Aliyev also complained the mediators are now keen to bolster the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone instead of helping his country regain control over Karabakh and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it.

“For Azerbaijan the important thing is [the return of Armenian-controlled territories,] while for us other issues are important,” said Babayan. “This means that we need to negotiate.”

But the official indicated that the Karabakh Armenians remain reluctant to make major territorial concessions to Baku. “There are territories without which Artsakh cannot survive as an independent state,” he said without going into details.
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