By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian demanded on Tuesday that Armenia change a long-standing policy and formally recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state.
The initiative took the form of a relevant bill introduced in the Armenian parliament by Hovannisian. The bill has to be discussed and evaluated by the parliament committee on foreign relations and the government before it can reach the parliament floor.
Karabakh declared itself an independent state in 1991 shortly after breaking away from Azerbaijani rule but has since failed to win formal recognition by any country of the world, including Armenia. The current and former authorities in Yerevan have resisted periodical domestic calls to recognize the dispute territory’s independence, saying that such a move would only complicate efforts at a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
Stepan Safarian, a parliament deputy from Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party, said the latest deadlock in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks is a major reason for the bill’s circulation. He expressed hope that the pro-government majority in the National Assembly will back it.
However, speaker Tigran Torosian and other majority leaders made it clear that they will oppose the initiative, seeing ulterior motives behind it. They also said it would create an additional obstacle to a Karabakh settlement.
“Recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by the Republic of Armenia must have a very serious justification,” Torosian told RFE/RL. “It is not right for individuals who are uninformed about the course and details of [Armenian-Azerbaijani] negotiations to introduce bills for known reasons to the parliament.”
“If the Republic of Armenia unilaterally recognizes the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as an independent state, the work of the OSCE Minsk Group will become meaningless,” said Aram Safarian, secretary of the parliament faction of the Prosperous Armenia Party.
A senior lawmaker from another governing party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, took a similar view. “Such initiatives must not be ends in themselves or stem from some political calculations or party interests,” said Armen Rustamian. “They must take into consideration state interests and not obstruct the negotiating process.”
(Photolur photo: Raffi Hovannisian.)