Speeches, articles and interviews
NKR Foreign Minister Gave an Interview to France24
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Karen Mirzoyan, who was on a visit to France from 10 to 12 June, gave an interview to France-24 TV channel.
The NKR Foreign Minister answered a range of issues related to the history of the Karabakh conflict, its current stage and prospects of settlement, humanitarian issues, the economic situation in Artsakh, etc.
Introducing the history of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh, Karen Mirzoyan noted that the movement of 1988 had been a struggle not only for reunification with Armenia, but also for human rights, social and economic equality and a secure life. However, as the Minister noted, the peaceful rallies of the youth, students and workers were responded by Azerbaijan with Armenian massacres in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, and other Azerbaijani towns, which were followed by aggression against proper Nagorno Karabakh.
“Azerbaijan must, first of all, change its stance – it is a country, which constantly enhances its xenophobia and hatred against everything Armenian”, Karen Mirzoyan said.
He emphasized that the conflict could not be resolved by force, as a war would have disastrous consequences for the entire region.
The NKR Foreign Minister also dwelt on the economic situation in Artsakh, the achievements and prospects of development of the priority spheres.
Touching upon the humanitarian issues, Minister Mirzoyan focused on the problem of the Armenian refugees living in Artsakh, who, unlike the Azerbaijani ones, are deprived of international assistance.
Karen Mirzoyan expressed confidence that sooner or later a peaceful settlement of the conflict would be reached, which would ensure the safe development and prosperity of the two independent states – Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
According to the Foreign Minister, the final settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan is possible only under the full-fledged participation of the NKR in the negotiations.
NKR Foreign Minister Gave an Interview to Echo of Moscow Radio Station
In an interview to Echo of Moscow Radio Station aired on March 4, 2013 minister of foreign affairs of Nagorno Karabakh Republic Karen Mirzoyan answered to a range of questions of Evgeny Buntman including the ones concerning the current stage and prospects of the settlement of the conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan as well as NKR’s position on foreign policy issues.
“Unfortunately, we do not register the progress in the negotiation process, which we would like to see… And first of all we think it happens because Nagorno Karabakh is not a full party of the negotiation process” – said the minister. He emphasized that the full involvement of the NKR as a party of negotiations at all stages will allow reaching real breakthrough and achieving our ultimate goal – conflict settlement between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
Karen Mirzoyan noted that there is a common understanding that the key element should be the expression of the free will of the people of Nagorno Karabakh. “This will must be considered”, - said the minister.
Answering to the question about the chances of NKR’s recognition, Karen Mirzoyan noted: “I’m confident that sooner or later Karabakh will become a recognized member of the international community.” He also stressed that the NKR’s recognition will create more favorable conditions for the settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan.
Concerning the concept of the conflict settlement the foreign minister stressed that it was unacceptable that separate elements of the conflict settlement are being wrested from the common context and considered in totally other context, different from the common direction of the negotiation process.
“Our position has always been the following: the negotiation process, all the issues which are on the negotiation table are inseparable from each other and they must be discussed and resolved simultaneously” – stressed Karen Mirzoyan.
The full text of the interview of minister of the foreign affairs of NKR Karen Mirzoyan can be found here:
THE POSITION OF BAKU IN THE KARABAKH SETTLEMENT IS A POLITICAL FARCE AND COMEDY - INTERVIEW OF THE ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER OF KARABAKH
Interview of REGNUM IA with the Acting Foreign Minister of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Vassily Atajanian
REGNUM IA: Mr. Atajanian, despite the absolute equality of international principles, in case of Azerbaijan, different-level political figures often point out the principle of territorial integrity of a state, while the right of nations to self-determination, which Nagorno Karabakh has actually realized, is only noted among other fundamental principles and norms of international law. How does it correspond to the reality?
- I'd like to note at once that the independence of Nagorno Karabakh and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan lie in different legal fields. The NKR independence doesn't violate Azerbaijan's territorial integrity at all, first of all because Nagorno Karabakh has never been a constituent of the Azerbaijani state and just in the Soviet period this Armenian region, in spite of its population’s will, was forcedly passed to the Azerbaijani SSR.
The international-legal bases of the NKR formation are perfect. In full accordance with international law and the acting legislation of the USSR, two independent states– the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the Azerbaijani Republic - were formed in the territory of the former Azerbaijani SSR. Nagorno Karabakh declared firmly and resolutely its future and any other resolution than the one on its independence, adopted by its people at the 1991 referendum and endorsed by the Constitution in 2006, is unacceptable. We reject any settlement model, which can challenge the historical choice of our people. NKR President Bako Sahakian has repeatedly emphasized at different-level meetings that the independence of Artsakh and its people's security cannot be a subject of a bargain
It should be also noted that unlike Azerbaijan, where a medieval sultanate and a clannish practice of passing the power from father to son are reigning, the NKR, since its formation, has assumed the course of building a democratic state ensuring all the rights and freedoms for its citizens. The NKR leadership intends to continue the policy of comprehensive development of the Republic and its democratic institutes and has repeatedly expressed its readiness for mutually beneficial cooperation with all the interested states. It is praising that with the lapse of time the international community, including the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, more and more inclines to the recognition of the fact of the NKR independent existence. The Artsakh people have proven their right to a sovereign state, which has demonstrated its ability to assume responsibility and to fulfill international commitments, though unilaterally. The international recognition of the NKR will endorse the existing realities.
REGNUM IA: However, official Baku, still insisting on “20% of occupied territories” and “one million of refugees”, makes no difference between proper Nagorno Karabakh and the “occupied” territories. How does this approach impact the negotiation process?
- This vicious practice of Baku has actually driven the negotiation process to a deadlock. The Azerbaijani party must bring itself to the ability to refuse of the technologies and stereotypes distorting the essence of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, as it is extremely unacceptable and dangerous to use the situation for propaganda ends. The talks on the «return» of Nagorno Karabakh into the structure of Azerbaijan are absurd. A self-respecting political figure or political scientist cannot suppose that while actually all the post-Soviet states incline to democratic Europe, Nagorno Karabakh must incline to Azerbaijan, which rejects all the fair realities, roughly violates the rights of the national minorities and generally the elementary human rights in its own state, threatening in addition the NKR with its physical extermination. Baku introduces the issue of the territories under the NKR control to the international community as the result of Armenian aggression, while it is the direct consequence of just the Azerbaijani aggression against the national-state formation, which stated its right to freedom. Among the well-known propaganda clichés of the Azerbaijani authorities are “20% of occupied territories” and “one million of refugees”. In fact, the reality is as follows: the total area of the territories under the control of the NKR Defense Army makes 7059 sq km, the total area of the Azerbaijani Republic making 81100 sq km as of 1991. The simple calculation testifies that the area of the 7 regions adjoining the NKR makes only 8,7% of the noted territory. And on the contrary, the Azerbaijani troops occupied about 1041 sq km of the NKR territory – the Shahumian region (600 sq km), parts of the Martakert and Martuni regions, and the Getashen sub-region. This makes about 19% of the NKR territory. It should be also considered that the 1991-1994 war imposed by Azerbaijan created a new situation, changing, in particular, the borders between the states. As of the number of Azerbaijani refugees, the PACE resolution of April 2006 includes the true data of the UN High Commissariat on Refugees (UNHCR), according to which the total number of refugees and displaced persons in Azerbaijan makes about 590.000 people, or about 8% of the AR official population size. By the way, the refugees and displaced persons in the NKR make 33%, or 61.000 people. So, the statement on “one million of refugees in Azerbaijan” is a myth of the Azerbaijani propaganda similar to the statement on “20% of occupied Azerbaijani territories”.
REGNUM IA: Recently, different-level active discussions on the return of the Azerbaijani refugees to Nagorno Karabakh have taken place...
- The Azerbaijani party insists on the return of refugees, without noting the similar return of about 500.000 Armenian refugees who forcedly left Azerbaijan, due to the pursuit by the state's authorities and the ethnic cleansing in 1988-1990s, as well as the wide-scale war unleashed against the NKR. Parity and a complex approach to the issue are needed here. Today’s situation is surely unacceptable for the return of refugees; this is possible only after the achievement of a political settlement of the conflict, solution of the issue of the NKR status and a complex of social issues. As of the issue of financial and moral reimbursement, the Azerbaijani party, as an aggressor, bears the responsibility for the reimbursement to all the refugees, regardless of their nationality.
REGNUM IA: How do you see the final solution of the issue of state borders between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan?
- Usually, factual borders are established as a demarcation line after military activities. Today’s borders of the NKR, as I have already noted, are the result of Nagorno Karabakh’s rebuffing the Azerbaijani aggression. In the historical aspect, the post-war territory of Nagorno Karabakh is a part of ancient Artsakh. In the defense-strategic context, the territories, which we took under our own control during the war imposed on us, make a security belt.
In the legal context, the territories and borders of Nagorno Karabakh have never been determined, taking into account the historical, national, and cultural-religious aspects. During the Soviet period, unfortunately, they were arbitrarily fixed by Soviet Azerbaijan, in the lesser territory of Artsakh, so that the autonomous district became an enclave within Azerbaijan. There is no return to the past either in the issue of status or in the issue of borders. The NKR borders should ensure the Republic's security in all the fields.
REGNUM IA: Today, much is spoken of the necessity of confidence-building measures between the parties to the conflict. What is meant by this?
- For the entire conflict period, the Armenian parties have offered corresponding initiatives on confidence-building measures between the conflicting parties, exclusion of the cease-fire violation, cease of the «sniper war», establishment of direct contacts between the parties, refusal of hostile publications in the mass media, and others.
We are still ready for cooperation for preventing fires in the forests and agricultural areas in the borderline zone, jointly using the water resources, ensuring mutual guarantees on the use of the air space, protecting the historical-architectural monuments, realizing joint projects in the meteorology and seismology spheres, and others. The contacts in the exchange of prisoners and remains and the search of missing persons should be intensified. Unfortunately, our initiatives are not supported by the neighboring state. Official Baku politicizes the humanitarian issues.
REGNUM IA: The negotiation process makes no progress. What is the main reason of this?
- Official Baku has always skillfully used the negotiation process for its selfish ends, misleading the international organizations and distracting them from the essence of the issue. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan participates in the settlement process for conducting a wide-scale propaganda war against Armenia and Artsakh and not for searching a mutually acceptable mechanism for the conflict settlement. This war expands from year to year, gaining new sophisticated methods of falsifications, provocations, and revanchist threats.
Azerbaijan replaces the conflict settlement process with attempts to transfer the issue to the auspice of the UN, Council of Europe, European Parliament, and other international organizations. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani party's requirement for the international organizations, states, and political figures to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan grows into a political farce and its declaration of the citizens visiting the NKR «persona non grata» - into a comedy. The position of Azerbaijan is fully deprived of even hints of readiness for any compromise or concessions. This reconfirms the fact that official Baku doesn't want to resolve the Karabakh issue, trying to shift the blame for the failure onto Armenia.
REGNUM IA: What do you think can lead the negotiation process out of the current situation?
- It is restoration of the full-fledged format of the negotiations, with the NKR direct and equal participation. We consider direct negotiations between the NKR and Azerbaijan the most optimal format for achieving a solution to the Karabakh conflict, especially that the Azerbaijani leadership had direct contacts with the NKR till 1997, which is testified by numerous documents signed by the NKR and Azerbaijani officials
Karabakh was the target of the war imposed by Azerbaijan, the basic party to the conflict and, consequently, must be a party to the negotiations. The NK status as an equal party to the conflict is fixed in the Bishkek Protocol of 1994 on the cease-fire, which was signed by three parties – Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, at the CSCE Budapest Summit in 1994, as well as in the Prague Summary of the Chairman-in-Office at the first meeting of the OSCE Leading Council on March 31, 1995. According to these documents, an efficient mechanism of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement must be full-format negotiations, with the participation of Nagorno Karabakh. The current format of the negotiations on the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement, without Nagorno Karabakh's participation, violates the OSCE official resolutions on three parties to the conflict and cannot be a success.
The importance of the full-fledged participation of the Karabakh party is also realized by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen who emphasize the necessity of involving the NKR representatives in the negotiation process for achieving the final solution to the conflict. The leadership of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic considers it necessary to achieve the soonest settlement of the issue and to establish cooperation between the conflicting parties. All the states of the region must be interested in the establishment of final peace and stability in the South Caucasus, which will allow using the entire potential of regional cooperation.
Azeri historian: The term “Azerbaijanis” was coined in 1930’s
/PanARMENIAN.Net/“We cannot have national ideology unless we are certain about our national self-identification,” Doctor of History Farid Alekperli, Department Head at Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences, says in an article entitled “Who are We? Where do we come from, and Where do we Go”. The article was published in Saturday’s issue of “Zerkalo” Azerbaijani newspaper.
Before the 1930s’ Stalin reforms, the notion “Azerbaijanis” did not simply exist, Azeri historian says, noting further that the term was coined in the late 1930s by the great repressor’s will. Until 1936, People in the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920) and Azerbaijani Soviet Republic were officially known as Turks, he notes.
“Having lost their national self-identification, we got stuck in debates on who we are, i.e. whether we descend from Sumerians, Talish tribes, Albanians, Medes or some other ethnic group. There’ll be no end to such tiresome and stupid debates unless we recognize that our true ethnic origins are disguised behind the featureless term ‘Azerbaijanis’. We descend mostly from Turks, as well as Kurds, Tats, Lezghins etc.”
“Armenians, Persians and other nations still call us Turks,” Alekperli underlines.
Bringing the example of Arab states and Iranian Azeris, who “have been calling themselves ‘Turks’ from time immemorial”, the historian expresses conviction that no one confuses them with the Turks living in Turkey.
Alekperli is concerned that use of the artificial term “Azerbaijanis” may result in the loss of national identity, assimilation to Russians and Western nations and eventually, it may lead to mancurtization, especially under the pressures of globalization policy.
The New York Times archive – misinformation and propaganda source for Azerbaijan, truth source for Armenia
14:22 / 07/25/2009
Global economic crisis has affected even the sacred sector of the Azeri economy – oil industry. Nonetheless, the industry of misinformation and “false-news” still exists and, moreover, it flourishes.
Azerbaijan has convinced its audience that Zori Balayan - Armenian writer and public figure - had allegedly described the Armenian violence towards Azerbaijani prisoners of war in his monograph called “Resurrection of Our Souls” (1) ( the book never existed). Then Azeri sources discovered the name of the publishing house - “Vanadzor” (it never existed either). After, Azerbaijani authorities flared up tension by spreading to pieces of “reliable news” that “Hayastan” Hungarian-Armenians organization (2) (again, there is no such organization in Hungary) demanded to execute the Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov in Yerevan (currently Safarov is behind Hungarian bars for beheading his sleeping Armenian fellow-student during a NATO training program in Budapest in 2004). And finally, Azerbaijani propaganda claims that Armenia first appeared as such on a world map in May of 1918 (no comments).
Eventually, Azerbaijan took up ‘The New York Times’ archive.
On March 29, 2009 the Day.az Azeri news portal published the most recent masterpiece, written by the Generals of Azerbaijan’s information, or better say - misinformation war. According to the agency, “The New York Times’ August 4, 1920 publication (available on the agency’s website http://day.az/news/politics/151388.html) ‘convincingly proves that Karabakh and Zangezoor were parts of Azerbaijan in 1918-1920’. “There is another historic evidence that these regions belonged to Azerbaijani Democratic Republic in 1918-1920, and the world community had acknowledged them as such”, Day.az reports referring to a press-release of the ‘Near East Relief’ US-based humanitarian organization.
Well, let’s look what is said in the ‘Near East Relief’ report that NYT published? The report reads: “Armenian-populated Karabakh and Zangezoor regions were not under Armenia’s government’s control, as they were separated from the Armenian republic due to the lack of roads and any means of communication”. That is it. I wonder which part of the report represents the “historical proof” the Day.az is writing about? Moreover, the word ‘Azerbaijan’ is not mentioned in the press-release at all.
In 1918-1920, the existing communication system in Armenia did not allow effective government of mountainous regions, and interim commissars with extended authority and certain autonomy from Yerevan were delegated to govern the hard-to-reach parts of the republic. The leader in Zangezoor - Garegin Nzhdeh retained the national power here till July 1921, almost half year after the Soviet regime was established in Yerevan. Chronologically, Zangezoor became the last spot in South Caucasus to become Soviet. Bolsheviks could never forget Nzhdeh’s firmness; he was arrested in 1943 in Bulgaria and sentenced to 25 years in prisons and camps.
Anyway, let us go back to The New York Times archive.
Every issue of “The New York Times” since July 18, 1856 is scanned and available digitally on the U.S. Congress Library and other libraries and websites. The search system can find all the articles of New York Times on any subject for the mentioned period. Apparently, the only way Azerbaijan could find the mentioned article was by entering the word “Karabakh” in the search tab. Otherwise, that’s really very complicated to find the article you may look for.
After spending several days in the library it became obvious that there is not a single article in the archive that mentions Karabakh, Zangezoor and Nakhijevan to be parts of Azerbaijan in any historical period. Not a single one. Otherwise, Azerbaijan would definitely use them for propaganda.
So what did “The New York Times” write about Karabakh region in 1918-1921?
July 26, 1920 article titled “Bolsheviki march to join Turks” reads: “Considerable Russian Bolshevik forces, mainly cavalry, are overrunning the Karabagh district of Armenia with the clear intention to join the Turkish Nationalists” (3).
March 17, 1918 article on the Russian-Persian and Russian-Turkish wars of the 19th century reads: “…Armenian regions Kars, Erivan and Karabakh are attached to Russia.” (4).
July 19, 1919 U.S. Air Force Major Joseph Greene reports from Tiflis: “Turks and Tatars are advancing towards Karabakh and Alagez. The considerable part of Russian Armenia is occupied. Armenian Government called for military mobilization” (5).
On July 16, 1921 during the revolt against Bolsheviks in Armenia, New York Times writes: “Radiogram from Armenian Cabinet Chairman Simon Vratsian reports: Bolsheviks are defeated and all the country from Karabakh to Alaghez, i.e. the territory not under Turkish occupation, is controlled by the Armenian Government” (6).
And we can go on with examples.
Obviously, the aforementioned publications could not remain unnoticed by the Azerbaijani expert who worked in the archive. However, Azeri “researchers” decided to disregard the numerous articles in the U.S. newspaper with information about Karabakh, and promote the press-release with the “proof of Azerbaijan’s authority over these regions” (meanwhile Azerbaijan is not even mentioned though). It is nothing but a deliberate and targeted deception of their own society.
Also it worth mentioning that searching of articles on Azerbaijan itself bring to quite a curious results: not a single article in the U.S. newspapers before 1918 contains the geographical name “Azerbaijan”, as an area known today as Republic of Azerbaijan. Till 1918, Azerbaijan was referred as Northern part of Persia, not Apsheron, let alone Karabakh. The word ‘Azerbaijani’ is not mentioned at all. The newspaper writes about Caucasian Tatars or more generally — Muslims.
But, Day.az did not mention theese facts, of course not…
2.“Hayastan organization demands Ramil Safarov to be executed in Yerevan”, “Ekho” 17.02.2005
3. “Bolsheviks marching to join the Turks”, “New York Times”, July 26, 1920.
4. “New situation in Turkey”, 17.03.1918, “New York Times”
5. “Turkish army moves to destroy the Armenians”, 31.07.1919, “New York Times”
6. “Greeks said to plan new drive on Turks”, by Edwin James, “New York Times”. 16.03.1921
NKR FOREIGN MINISTER, “THE STATUS OF NAGORNO KARABAKH IS THE KEYSTONE TO THE SETTLEMENT”
“To briefly characterize the 15-year cease-fire, it is extension of the Karabakh statehood’s formation and alignment of a dynamic system, which has proved its vitality so far”, stated NKR Foreign Minister Georgy Petrossian in his interview to the NKR Public Television Vestnik (Reporter) program.
“Surely, there are things, which are not going in the way we’d ideally like to, but I believe that we have succeeded in solving the most fundamental issues, such as creation of an army – one of the most important security guarantees, and alignment of a domestic system of state administration. All this, actually, took place in the conditions of war and post-war armistice”, noted the NKR Foreign Minister.
At the same time, Georgy Petrossian emphasized that for the Karabakh party, the future status of Nagorno Karabakh was the keystone to the settlement.
“Achievement of mutual recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the Azerbaijani Republic is needed”
NKR Foreign Minister Georgy Petrossian’s answers to the mass media questions
These days, in a conversation with a BBC correspondent, a representative of the Azerbaijani MFA stated that the status of Nagorno Karabakh can be discussed only after the liberation of some territories and return of the Azerbaijanis to Nagorno Karabakh. What is the NKR position on this issue?
This discourse reflects the traditional approach of the Azerbaijani policy on misinterpretation of the grounds, core, and consequences of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.
We believe that for creating a basis for the final settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict and establishing stable peace in the region, first of all, achievement of mutual recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the Azerbaijani Republic, as well as mutual rejection of any attempts of a military solution to the conflict is needed. Mutual recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan and rejection of any war gamble should become the start point of the negotiations and not the final.
This approach will allow to create favorable conditions for solving the most complicated issues: territories, refugees, and borders. They must be mutual and brought into step with the course of the peace process. The key issue among the noted ones is the issue of the Armenian refugees from the former Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. Exclusion of the Armenian refugees from the context of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement, suppression of their legal rights is a way to nowhere. Without solving the issue of the Armenian refugees from the Azerbaijani SSR, solution of the issue of any other refugees or some other issues is impossible.
At a public meeting in Vienna on supporting the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, with the participation of public representatives from Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno Karabakh, OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairman from France Bernard Fassier stated that “a new war can be initiated both by the recognition of Nagorno Karabakh as an independent state, which isn’t done even by Armenia, and any attempt of unconditional return of this territory to Azerbaijan”.What is your assessment of the discourse of the OSCE MG Co-Chairman from France?
We flatly reject the statement that a new war can be initiated also by the recognition of Nagorno Karabakh as an independent state. A new war can be initiated by the tolerance of the world policy centers towards the warmonger, leading to an ironic situation that the direct threats to peace by official Baku, in fact, don’t result in tangible political or legal responsibility. This policy will only strengthen the Azerbaijani elite’s conviction of its own impunity, which is just the basic threat to the regional peace.
In due time, Azerbaijan’s aggression against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic became, in a greater extend, possible due to the international community’s recognition in 1991-1992 the right of Azerbaijan to independence and non-recognition of the similar right of Nagorno Karabakh, although the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the Azerbaijani Republic were formed from the former Azerbaijani SSR, basing on general principles of law. Continuation of this policy and especially any opposition to the recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic represent a serious threat to peace and stability in the region, as they encourage the Azerbaijani party for false imagination that they can get away with a new war gamble.
In this regard, we consider it important to emphasize that the world policy centers’ refusal of the formula of “parity approach” to the parties’ actions will not only allow strengthening our confidence of their ability to fairly and impartially assess the situation, but will also become a guarantee for progress in the negotiation process.
The OSCE MG Co-Chairman also stated that “the most real option now is to return the Azerbaijani territories under the current control of the Armenian armed forces, to specify a medium status for Nagorno Karabakh, with consideration of its security guarantees, which would be acceptable both for Baku and Yerevan. The second part of the issue is not solvable now, and the self-determination of the people of Nagorno Karabakh is possible only in 5 or 10 or 15 years, after the Azerbaijani community’s return to the region”. How will you comment on this position?
Mr. Fassier voiced the elements of the so-called “basic principles”, which the OSCE MG proposes for consideration of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents. The consultations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on these principles take place on the formula “nothing is agreed and solved until everything is agreed and solved”. Due to this, it seems untimely to comment now on the functional elements of these consultations, which may not get their final shape introduced by the mediators. Consequently, when the consultations give specific results, then we’ll assess if they are acceptable for our people or if they are generally realizable, because achievement of the final settlement of the conflict and stable peace is impossible without taking into consideration the position of Nagorno Karabakh.
The Armenian Reporter
Defending Artsakh’s Interests in the United States
Published: Saturday March 07, 2009
Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh - After I served nearly a decade as NKR permanent representative (ambassador) to the United States (August 1999-January 2009), President Bako Sahakian recently asked me to return to Artsakh to continue my carrier at the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where I have since been appointed deputy minister.
Taking the opportunity of this medium, I want to, first of all, express gratitude to everyone who have contributed to the work of the Office of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the United States (Artsakh's Embassy) and extended their friendship to me and my family throughout these years. I look forward to a continued engagement with all our well-wishers and to seeing you in Artsakh frequently.
This commentary will recap some of the accomplishments and offer a look to the future of Artsakh's diplomatic mission in the United States now led by my able successor Robert Avetisian.
Throughout my posting in Washington, the focus of our work has been on defending and advancing Artsakh's political and economic interests in the United States, on expansion of ties between our two countries, and on promotion of our shared objectives of regional peace, democracy, and prosperity.
We engaged with the State Department, Congress, policy and academic circles, media, and the Armenian-American community to build support for Artsakh's aspirations to live in freedom and secure from aggression, to facilitate humanitarian and investment projects that have helped rebuild Artsakh's war-torn infrastructure and also spurred economic development.
We worked closely with our allies on Capitol Hill and the Washington-based Armenian-American organizations to ensure continuation and expansion of U.S. direct economic assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh. It is fulfilling to see that in the fiscal 2009 budget, Congress allocated up to $ 8,000,000 for aid programs in Nagorno-Karabakh. I thank the U.S. government and the American people for this critical assistance.
On political front, we continually educated members of Congress about Artsakh's ongoing struggle for freedom. As a result, over 100 members of the House of Representatives signed letters urging the U.S. president to take note of Artsakh's progress and to promote formal U.S. recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. In cooperation with Armenian-American organizations and our congressional friends, we organized several Capitol Hill events dedicated to Artsakh, bringing together members of Congress, prominent human rights advocates and lawyers, and hundreds of activists.
The office arranged and facilitated dozens of visits by senior NKR officials to the United States. These included bilateral visits and those in the framework of annual Armenia Fund telethons that have generated over $ 150 million for major infrastructure projects in Artsakh and Armenia.
Seeking to raise international awareness about our struggle for freedom, we launched a first-ever comprehensive English-language website about Artsakh at www.nkrusa.org. Thanks to this website we met many well-wishers worldwide. Some of these new friends ended up sponsoring projects in Artsakh; many also volunteered their skills and time.
Mindful of the importance of the modern media in our outreach efforts, we launched ArtsakhOnline, a YouTube channel. One of our first installments, a short documentary film "Struggle for Freedom," produced in cooperation with Los Angeles filmmaker Peter Musurlian, has been watched over 10,000 times.
Since 1999, we have published a monthly newsletter distributed in print in Washington, the United States, and around the world. The newsletter was also available online. Last year, the newsletter transitioned to a more frequent electronic-only format distributed by email.
Our office monitored major media outlets, reacting when necessary to misrepresentations of Artsakh, while also promoting objective coverage. My letters to the editor appeared repeatedly in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, and Christian Science Monitor. In Washington our work has been covered by the Washington Diplomat, Diplomatic Traffic, Voice of America, and Eurasia Net.
I had opportunities to speak at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the University of Texas, the Zoryan Institute in Toronto, and elsewhere. Under my leadership, the office facilitated expert research, conferences, visits to, and publications about Artsakh.
We worked closely with the Detroit-based Armenian Children's Relief Fund and other supporters to sponsor medical treatment for dozens of Artsakh children, as well as wounded veterans; we also connected benefactors to humanitarian projects in Artsakh.
More recently, in cooperation with the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the Americans for Artsakh (AFA) we launched a series of professional training seminars for NKR officials. The first session successfully concluded last summer; the second session, focused on effective communication and conflict resolution, is currently underway in Stepanakert.
Hundreds of friends, Armenians and non-Armenians alike, have stood by the office throughout these years, providing financial support, volunteering their expertise and time, and helping to advance our common objectives.
On behalf of my government, I thank again the Armenian Assembly of America, the Cafesjian Family Foundation, the AGBU, and the Armenian Missionary Association of America and their leadership for extending critical financial and technical support throughout these years. Special thanks to Armen Kanayan of Stratomedia for his tireless volunteer efforts to develop and maintain our website; I also want to single out Joan Ablett and Emil Sanamyan for their support.
This is the short list of our efforts so far. What is next for Artsakh advocacy in America?
As with any institution, greater financial security of our office remains a priority to be able not only to maintain but also to expand our operations. It is also time for Artsakh's diplomatic representation to have its own roof in Washington.
Our political agenda should remain in focus. The United States remains a global leader and one of the lead mediators in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, and that means a sustained and deepened engagement with all branches of the U.S. government is needed. In Congress, that means reaching out both to our friends and opponents, as we have done in the past.
Speaking with one voice on Artsakh is critical to success. Through collaboration with the Armenian Embassy and Washington-based Armenian-American organizations, we have established this common agenda on Artsakh: (1) expansion of U.S.-NKR relations; (2) continuation of U.S. direct aid to Artsakh while transitioning from humanitarian to development projects; and (3) safeguarding regional peace.
Artsakh and the United States share universal values of freedom, democracy, and peace. We both fought fierce wars (although some 200 years apart) to free ourselves from foreign tyranny, to be the masters of our own destiny, and to enjoy the promise of liberty, equality, and justice for all.
Sharing many of the modern challenges, we are also partners in advancing common goals of peace and economic development. This is a great foundation to take the U.S.-NKR relations to the next level, ensuring unhindered communication and collaboration.Expansion of U.S. economic aid to Artsakh while transitioning from humanitarian to development projects is critical to ensuring that all parts of the South Caucasus region receive equal opportunities to rebuild war-damaged infrastructure, providing aid to refugees and internally displaced persons, and ensuring steady economic development. Drinking water, healthcare, and mine clearance remain on the top of our priorities and Artsakh will continue to be an effective and responsible partner in advancing all aid programs.
At the same time, considering the genocidal rhetoric and increasing capabilities of our opponents, the possibility of renewed aggression against the Armenian nation is unfortunately all too real.
We are confident in our ability to defend ourselves, but our overriding diplomatic priority is to preempt a new war, saving lives on both sides of the current divide while building on a promise of a peaceful future for all.
Artsakh's noble struggle is continuing on political, diplomatic, economic, informational, and cultural fronts. Unity in purpose and action remains the key to our sustained success in Washington and elsewhere around the world.