by David Stepanyan

Wednesday, January 30, 14:57

ArmInfo's interview with Masis Mailyan, Head of the Public Council
for Foreign Policy and Security, former deputy foreign minister of
the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

Do you think certain changes will emerge in the Karabakh peace
process after the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan
regardless of the fact that the incumbent presidents will obviously
gain the victories?

Since internal or regional parameters of the Karabakh conflict
are unlikely to change, it is transformation of the international
parameters of the Karabakh-Azerbaijani confrontation that may influence
the process.

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Paris on January
28. The OSCE Minsk Co-chairs are supposed to have offered new ideas to
Nalbandian and Mammadyarov. What do you think the matter may concern?

So far, these new ideas are known only to a small group of officials.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the first to speak of
possible new approach on the Karabakh peace process when traveling
to the South Caucasus in the summer of 2012. Afterwards, the OSCE
MG co-chair-states in the person of the Russian Foreign Minister,
US Secretary of State and Minister-Delegate for European Affairs
of France came out with a joint statement in Dublin on Dec 6. They
urged the conflicting parties to display more insistence on the peace
process and cooperate with the co-chairs to thoroughly study the
ideas introduced by them during the November visit to the region. It
is more than obvious now that it is impossible to achieve durable
peace building on the former approaches and philosophy of the Karabakh
peace process. The mediators should work up the courage to offer all
the three parties to the conflicts approaches reckoning with today's
international legal realities and the recent precedents in settlement
of other conflicts.

The EU, USA and Russia can jointly influence not only the Karabakh
conflict, but also other developments in the Caucasus. Do you agree
with this?

The Karabakh conflict has various aspects. The force centers you have
mentioned have reached a consensus on some of those aspects. For
instance, I mean the peaceful settlement of the conflict. At
present, these power centers are interested in stability in our
region for various motives. At the same time, these superpowers may
have different goals in other regional issues and aspects of the
Karabakh conflict. Such balance of interests ensures maintenance of
the status-quo around the Karabakh conflict.

Do you think the final agreement on Karabakh peace process may be
signed without taking into account the opinions of Iran and Turkey?

What is their role in maintaining the status quo?

The future peace treaty on Nagorno-Karabakh, if signed, should first
of all take into account the interests of the parties to the conflict.

As for the role of Iran in the conflict, its leadership is trying
to preserve neutrality. Iran is the only country which has a common
border to all the three parties to the conflict. In February-May
1992 Iran came forward like a mediator. Iranian officials have been
recently coming forward more and more often with statements about their
readiness to take the role of the mediator in the Karabakh-Azerbaijan
conflict. This should become a signal to the OSCE Minsk Group and
stimulate its activity. The role of Turkey is non-constructive and
extremely contradictory. On the one hand, Turkey is among the nine
countries of the OSCE MG, but on the other hand, it is a strategic
partner and the closest ally of Azerbaijan, and often comes forward
like a party to the Karabakh conflict.

Earlier you said that Armenia could suspend its participation in
the Minsk process. How reasonable is it for the Armenian parties
given Azerbaijan's aspiration to change the co-chairs of the OSCE
Minsk Group?

Firstly, the Armenian parties to the Karabakh conflict should be
guided by their own interests without taking into consideration
Azerbaijan's aspirations, especially as some of these "aspirations"
may be false. Secondly, my statement was a reaction to "Safarov's
case", which demonstrated once again that the Azerbaijani policy of
bribing international and national functionaries is a true threat
to security of Karabakh and Armenia, and casts doubt upon fair
settlement of the conflict. In such conditions Armenia could suspend
its participation in the Minsk process. Moreover, for resumption of
the talks the Armenian parties to the Karabakh conflict had a right
to require reliable security guarantees from the co-chair states of
the OSCE Minsk Group - the USA, Russia and France. Such guarantees
may be the international recognition of Karabakh and its involvement
in the international security system.

At the past presidential election in Artsakh, one-third of the
population supported the opposition candidate Vitaly Balasanyan,
whereas the latter lacked any administrative resources. What prospects
may such a high index of Artsakh opposition have for the following
country-wide elections and international recognition of Artsakh as
a democratic independent republic?

Vitaly Balasanyan's participation in the presidential election in the
NKR and the votes he received have already brought certain results for
Artsakh, in particular, the Artsakh people have shown that they are
not indifferent to the fate of the country. The presidential election
was a chance to upgrade the country's rating of political rights and
civil freedoms. And we achieved restoration of the former status of
a partially free country by Freedom of House. We lost that status
due to the parliamentary election of 2010. Now the opposition pole
in the NKR Parliament has been restored. Other democratic processes
have been launched in the country, in particular, a civil movement
"Constitutional Artsakh," a new political party "National Revival". It
should be noted that strengthening of democracy is necessary for
the good living standards of Artsakh's population and international
recognition of the NKR, which is the key foreign political task
of the country. The success of the opposition forces at the future
country-wide elections will depend on their consistent measures to
protect the rights of the citizens and create the necessary conditions
for formation of the state power through legitimate elections.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress