By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia warned Azerbaijan against attempting to revive a draft pro-Azerbaijani resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh at an annual session of the United Nations General Assembly that opened in New York on Wednesday.
The resolution that was put forward a year ago is formally on the agenda of the three-day UN summit that brought together more than 160 presidents, prime ministers and kings. It reaffirms Baku’s sovereignty over Karabakh and expresses “grave concern at the continuing Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands.”
A General Assembly vote on the document was put off indefinitely in November of last year after Armenia agreed to an inspection of the occupied Azerbaijani territories around Karabakh by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. A fact-finding OSCE mission toured those lands last February to investigate Azerbaijani allegations that Yerevan is actively resettling them with Armenian families. The mission effectively denied those claims, concluding in a report that it found “no evidence of direct involvement by the authorities of Armenia in the territories.”
According to Armenia’s permanent representative at the UN, Armen Martirosian, Baku and Yerevan agreed this month to include the document on the General Assembly agenda but to avoid any discussions or votes on it. He said the Azerbaijani leadership needed a face-saving solution ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.
“We agreed that Azerbaijan will not take any active steps and Armenia will not prevent the issue from being included on the agenda,” Martirosian told RFE/RL from New York.
“If Azerbaijan takes any active step within the UN framework, the Republic of Armenia will pull out of the Prague process of negotiations,” the diplomat warned. “Our main argument is that there is the [OSCE] Minsk Group which has been mediating the negotiations for more than ten years and that the UN is not the place where the Karabakh problem must be discussed.”
Martirosian said Yerevan’s position is backed by the Minsk Group’s French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs. Addressing the UN assembly in November 2004, the co-chairs spoke out against the passage of the draft resolution, saying that it would undermine “confidence between the parties.”
The pro-Azerbaijani document reached the UN assembly with the help of several Muslim nations, notably Turkey, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. In a retaliatory move, Armenia openly opposed Kazakhstan’s efforts to assume the OSCE’s rotating presidency during a summit of former Soviet republics this year.