Armenia’s political leadership has reaffirmed its position that Nagorno-Karabakh’s internationally recognized status can only be determined by its predominantly Armenian population in a referendum.
The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) insisted late on Thursday that a “full realization of the Nagorno-Karabakh people’s right to self-determination through a referendum” is a necessary condition for any peace accord with Azerbaijan.
“Nagorno-Karabakh must be able to fully exercise its right to self-determination just like Scotland, Kosovo, East Timor and many other countries and peoples have,” the HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, told a news conference in Yerevan.
“Karabakh was not, is not and will not be under Baku’s rule,” he said.
The remarks came amid intensifying international efforts to de-escalate the Karabakh conflict and achieve its comprehensive settlement. They seemed primarily addressed to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who said late last month that Karabakh can only be granted the status of an autonomous Azerbaijani region after Armenian withdrawal from districts surrounding it.
A future referendum on Karabakh’s status has been one of the key elements of the Basic Principles of the conflict’s resolution put forward by the U.S., Russian and French mediators over the past decade. The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents most recently came close to reaching a framework accord along those lines in 2011.
The mediators now seem hopeful that they can revive the stalled peace process after the April 2-5 hostilities in and around Karabakh. It is not yet clear whether they plan to make major changes in the Basic Principles.
U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to step up joint Karabakh peace efforts when they spoke by phone on Wednesday. Putin briefed Obama on the most recent Armenian-Azerbaijani summit which he hosted in Saint Petersburg on June 20.
Sharmazanov hailed the phone call as further proof that the United States and Russia continue to work together towards a Karabakh settlement.