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A senior Armenian official has dismissed as unserious Azerbaijan’s latest offer to grant a high degree of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh.

A top aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reportedly said this week that Karabakh could enjoy a greater degree of self-rule than it had in Soviet times if Azerbaijan regains control over the disputed territory. Ali Hasanov said Baku would also guarantee the security of its predominantly Armenian population.

“I think that they know much better in Azerbaijan that such statements are groundless and ludicrous,” Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said late on Thursday.

“How can one state give some status to another?” Sharmazanov told reporters. “The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a de facto independent republic.”

He argued that people’s right to self-determination is one of the principles at the heart of international mediators’ exiting proposals to resolve the Karabakh conflict.

A framework peace accord originally drafted by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group a decade ago calls for a phased settlement of the conflict. It would start from the liberation of virtually all seven districts around Karabakh that were occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war. In return, Karabakh’s population would be able to determine its internationally recognized status in a future referendum.

Armenia’s leadership says that this peace formula is largely acceptable to it.

President Serzh Sarkisian ruled out Karabakh’s return under Azerbaijani rule immediately his most recent meeting with Aliyev held in Geneva in October. The two leaders pledged to intensify the peace process and ease tensions on the frontlines.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers met in Vienna on December 6 for follow-up negotiations which they both described as “positive.” They are expected to meet again in January.

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