YEREVAN, (AP) - The leader of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave said Wednesday that the only alternative to full independence would be unification with Armenia.
Arkady Ghukasian said the enclave can not wait forever for a resolution to the conflict that has killed some 30,000 people and forced about a million to flee their homes.
Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave inside Azerbaijan, has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces since 1994. Azerbaijani soldiers and Nagorno-Karabakh forces face off across the no-man's-land around the enclave and small shooting incidents break out sporadically.
Internationally mediated negotiations, in which the United States has played a leading role, have stalled. Both nations have said they are committed to a peaceful settlement, but tension remains high.
Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliev said Tuesday that his country must be prepared to reclaim the enclave at any price. "We must continue the peace discussions with Armenia to secure a peaceful resolution to the conflict but we will return our land by any means," he said.
Ghukasian said Azerbaijani authorities "must understand that without the equal participation of Stepanakert in the discussions, there are no opportunities to resolve the conflict."