'DO NOT DAMAGE'
By Karine Asatrian

Source: www.a1plus.am
Yerkir.am
July 01, 2006

The Azeri delegation to the CoE Parliamentary Assembly is trying to
include two issues into the PACE agenda. The first issue is the massive
fires in territories adjacent to Nagorno Karabagh. The second issue
is "illegal settlement of Armenians" on the same territories. Azeris
are convinced they will succeed. Member of the Armenian delegation
to the PACE Armen RUSTAMIAN answers A1+' s questions.

Q: The Azeris state that PACE delegates support them. Have you felt
such an attitude towards the Azeris?

A: I would not say so but I can say that some delegates who are not
familiar with the Karabagh issue listen to the Azeris propaganda. This
is the main goal of Azeri propaganda: to present distorted facts at
forums where there are no procedures for checking the validity of
presented information. In other words, they address the audience of
delegates who do not take the trouble to examine the issue in detail
and can easily be influenced by emotional statements.

Meanwhile, the nature of Karabagh conflict is such that if you do not
know the substance of the conflict the arguments put forward by the
Azeris seem to be more trustworthy, especially that no discussion of
such issues as what were the causes and what consequences, who is to
blame for them are never discussed at such forums. Azerbaijan uses
this opportunity to launch its propaganda.

Q: The Karabagh settlement process is regulated through the OSCE
Minsk Group. Why is Azerbaijan using its propaganda machine in the
Council of Europe?

A: The logic is the same. At the Minsk Group we have truly detailed
and deep discussions. OSCE has been dealing with this issue for a long
time and this is why it knows the issue at a much deeper level. This
is why the Azeris try to transfer discussion of the issue to the
parliamentary level.

The hearings at the CoE Parliamentary Assembly are rather weak in
this respect. When it comes to the actual resolutions the issue is
transferred to the Minsk Group with the understanding that if you deal
with an issue you have to take it seriously rather than discussing
it through committee sessions. You cannot avoid emotional outbursts
in committee discussions and propaganda techniques and naturally the
decisions taken do not always adequately reflect the substance of
the discussed issue.

Q: Does this mean that you consider creation of a sub-committee
dealing with Karabagh issue in the PACE would be useless?

A: No, I believe that if the goal of such a sub-committee is set as
assisting rather than hindering the activities of the Minsk Group,
then yes, Council of Europe can be involved in this issue.

Q: OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs stated today that they believe intensive
mediation mission does not make sense as long as the presidents of
the two countries do not show adequate political will to overcome
their disagreements. Do you think a settlement of the conflict is
possible without mediators, as some political analysts suggest?

A: There are different ways of conflict settlement and only one
of them is acceptable for Karabagh and I think this one has been
smoothly working for a long time. Starting from scratch and trying
to use alternative methods might not work with this conflict.

Of course, I am not against using all elements and approaches known
in conflict studies that would complement each other contributing to
the settlement of the conflict. The logic is the following: every
new interference should answer one question - does it hinder the
existing settlement process or not? " Do not damage", this is the
correct starting point.