An opposition member of the Armenian parliament has accused her pro-government colleagues of deliberately foiling a debate on a bill that would formally recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The bill authored by Zaruhi Postanjian, a member of the opposition Heritage party, was to be discussed by the parliament’s foreign relations committee during its meeting in the Karabakh capital of Stepanakert on Sunday.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) Postanjian said that while the meeting did take place, it was closed for both the press and other parties concerned in Nagorno-Karabakh, including lawmakers in the unrecognized republic. Besides, she said, while the meeting was to take a vote on the document and make a decision on its future status, nothing of the kind took place.
The Armenian government has repeatedly refused to pass a separate bill on the formal recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh, which de-facto broke free from Azerbaijan’s control as a result of a 1992-1994 war. Baku and the international community have not recognized Nagorno-Karabakh’s secession as internationally mediated negotiations on the future status of the region continue between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In rejecting similar bills of the Heritage party in the past, representatives of the Armenian parliamentary majority said that it would not give anything to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in practical terms, but would only increase the likelihood of renewed hostilities in the conflict zone.
In his public statements President Serzh Sarkisian also repeatedly advocated such a position. But on several occasions he also warned Azerbaijan that Armenia would consider recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh in the event of an all-out war unleashed by the Azerbaijani side.
Postanjian, however, insists that the bill that she has authored is needed now also in view of Armenia’s upcoming membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union that the country joins without Nagorno-Karabakh. This, according to the opposition lawmaker, would enable Nagorno-Karabakh to act independently, and, in particular, return to the negotiating table as a full party.
“It is obvious that the [ruling] Republican Party of Armenia has clear instructions not to allow a bill like that to become a matter of public debate, and that’s why it had been decided to hold the session in Stepanakert, in conditions of lack of transparency,” the Heritage party member claimed.
Government officials in the unrecognized republic avoided voicing their opinions on the Armenian lawmaker’s initiative. Vahram Atanesian, a member of the Karabakh parliament’s foreign relations committee said that the matter was within the competence of the Armenian parliament. “We do not interfere,” he said. “We have not discussed such an issue.”