Lusine Avanesyan

08.01.2009 19:00

In 2008 the most popular topic of discussion connected with the
Karabakh conflict was the fate of the liberated territories.

The independence and security of the Nagorno Karabakh republic
is not subject to speculations: this was the response of the NKR
authorities to all the disputes inside and outside Artsakh. What
does the expression "territories for status" mean? NKR President Bako
Sahakyan gave the answer during consultations in Kashatagh in March.

The President noted that the full development of Nagorno Karabakh as
an independent state and its secure existence was impossible without

Over the year this statement was reinforced with a number of practical
steps: citizens of Kashatagh gained the opportunity to get loans
on equal basis with other NKR citizens to organize agricultural
works. The reconstruction of the irrigation system started in the
south of the region.

Despite all this, the territories remained a "hot" topic during the
whole year. The peak of discussions coincided with NKR President Bako
Sahakyan's statement in November: "There were liberated territories
in 1990s. Today we have a region consolidated with the Constitution."

The statement was made during military exercises held in the liberated
territories. It was followed by statements during the meetings with
citizens of Kashatagh and Nor Shahumyan. The President was annoyed
with the reports on the temporary status of the region.

"I ask and demand that you stop being guided by those rumors. This
is our country and we should demonstrate a corresponding approach. As
far as Artsakh exists, the region of Kashatagh will exist, as well."

Although NKR Prime Minister Ara Harutyunyan refused to comment on
foreign policy issues during a year-end press conference, what he
said came to refute the concerns over the return of territories.

"I'm speaking about an area of 11 thousand 700 square kilometers,"
he said. This is the actual area under NKR jurisdiction.

The Prime Minister also refuted the rumors that the non-reconstruction
of highway to Martakert and Martuni was connected with the uncertain
status of the territories.

"There is deficit of financial means. In 2009 we will first of all
try to reconstruct the Aghdam-Martakert highway, since it is in a
worse condition. In 2010 we will. Probably be able to speak about
Aghdam-Martuni road. The most important is that one of these roads
will be reconstructed," Ara Harutyunyan said.

2008 was a year of clarification of positions of the NKR authorities
not only on the issue of territories. People in Artsakh started
speaking about the restoration of the real format of the Karabakh
conflict. During the sitting of the Military Bo ard of the NKR Defense
Army, President Bako Sahakyan once again confirmed the position
of Artsakh.

"The formulation that this is a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan
threatens the favorable solution of the issue. There was a conflict
that later grew into military actions between the Nagorno Karabakh
Republic and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan involved Armenia into the conflict
making it a participant of the war. This is the truth and, therefore,
the wording is not acceptable for us."

NKR President declared that everything was being done to restore the
truth and return to reality, which will serve as a basis for bringing
the negotiation [process to its logical course and continuing it.

"Nothing can influence this position," the President of Artsakh
declared, clarifying that the mechanism of solving the issue cannot
belong to anyone, be it a political force or an individual politician
including the President of the country, since "it is a matter of
nationwide importance."