01 May 06

Over the past two weeks a number of high officials of Armenia have
visited Karabakh. On April 18 Serge Sargsyan arrived in Karabakh to
observe the military exercise of the NKR Army. On April 21 a group
of members of parliament and the chair of the Committee of External
Relations Armen Rustamyan arrived in Stepanakert to take part in the
parliamentary hearing. On April 26 the meeting of parliamentarians
of NKR and Armenia took place, and a delegation of members of the
National Assembly of Armenia, headed by Deputy Speaker Tigran Torosyan
arrived in NKR. At the end of the "race" Armenian Foreign Minister
Vardan Oskanyan suddenly visited Stepanakert.

The foreign minister met with the leadership of Karabakh and delivered
a brief lecture at Artsakh State University. He made several notable
statements while answering the questions of students.

First of all, he announced that he had initiated his visit to
Karabakh to look in the eyes of people whose "existence is already
encouraging." He emphasized that he understood how difficult it is
for the people of Karabakh to live in such uncertainty. He reassured,
however, that this uncertainty is nothing as long as Armenia and
Karabakh are one. He said the following, "You have done your job,
now trust everything to the diplomats."

With regard to this the minister stated that the current task of
the Armenian diplomacy is to set down formally and recognize the
current reality. The minister assures that Armenia would not take
steps that would endanger the independence of NKR, the security of
its people, and the border with Armenia. He simply explained that for
the international community the notion of "Nagorno Karabakh" denotes
the former Autonomous Region of Nagorno Karabakh. Although in reply
to a related question the minister said it is early to discuss the
questions of refugees, territories and peacemakers. "If President
Aliev announces in Washington that the settlement must be based on
the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, why should we speak about
territories?" wondered the minister.

With regard to the Armenia-Karabakh relations Vardan Oskanyan said
the Karabakhi origin of President Robert Kocharyan allows him to
represent Karabakh too in this round of the talks. Now the principles
of a resolution need to be clarified, and as soon as these are defined,
the engagement of Karabakh will be certain. And if Azerbaijan rejects
these again, it will mean that Baku rejects a peace settlement and
does not recognize the right for self-determination of the people of
Karabakh. In this case Armenia will recognize the independence of NKR.

Extending the topic, Vardan Oskanyan confirmed that he had not been
invited to take part in the parliamentary hearing in Stepanakert
officially because it was known that his schedule was very busy.

However, at the National Assembly the statement of the hearings was
extended to him on April 28, which "clearly reflects the will and
standpoint of the people of Karabakh." It is a clear message to the
international community, said the minister.