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VARTAN OSKANIAN: `MILITARY VERSION IS BUT A FAILURE'
[01:12 pm] 26 September, 2006

Today RA Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian is to meet with the OSCE
Minsk group Co-chairs in New York. Reminder: Armenian Foreign
Minister is in New York to participate in the 61-th session of the
United Nations General Assembly.

Let me take a minute to reflect on Kosovo, as so many have done. We
follow the Kosovo self-determination process very closely. We
ourselves strongly support the process of self-determination for the
population of Nagorno Karabakh. Yet, we don't draw parallels between
these two or with any other conflicts. We believe that conflicts are
all different and each must be decided on its own merits. While we do
not look at the outcome of Kosovo as a precedent, on the other hand, a
Kosovo decision cannot and should not result in the creation of
obstacles to self-determination for others in order to pre-empt the
accusation of precedence. Such a reverse reaction - to prevent or
pre-empt others from achieving well-earned self-determination - is
unacceptable.

Efforts to do just that - by elevating territorial integrity above all
other principles - are already underway, especially in this
chamber. But this contradicts the lessons of history. There is a
reason that the Helsinki Final Act enshrines self-determination as an
equal principle. In international relations, just as in human
relations, there are no absolute rights. There are also
responsibilities. A state must earn the right to lead and
govern. States have the responsibility to protect their citizens. A
people choose the government which represents them.

The people of Nagorno Karabakh chose long ago not to be represented by
the government of Azerbaijan. They were the victims of state violence,
they defended themselves, and succeeded against great odds, only to
hear the state cry foul and claim sovereignty and territorial
integrity.

The people of Nagorno Karabakh chose long ago not to be represented by
the government of Azerbaijan. They were the victims of state violence,
they defended themselves, and succeeded against great odds, only to
hear the state cry foul and claim sovereignty and territorial
integrity.

But the government of Azerbaijan has lost the moral right to even
suggest providing for their security and their future, let alone to
talk of custody of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijan did not behave responsibly or morally with the people of
Nagorno Karabakh, who it considered to be its own citizens. They
sanctioned massacres in urban areas, far from Nagorno Karabakh; they
bombed and displaced more than 300,000 Armenians; they unleashed the
military; and after they lost the war and accepted a ceasefire, they
proceeded to destroy all traces of Armenians on their territories.

In the most cynical expression of such irresponsibility, this last
December, a decade after the fighting had stopped, they completed the
final destruction and removal of thousands of massive hand-sculpted
cross-stones - medieval Armenian tombstones elaborately carved and
decorated.

Such destruction, in an area with no Armenians, at a distance from
Nagorno Karabakh and any conflict areas, is a callous demonstration
that Azerbaijan's attitude toward tolerance, human values, cultural
treasures, cooperation or even peace, has not changed.

One cannot blame us for thinking that Azerbaijan is not ready or
interested in a negotiated peace. Yet, having rejected the other two
compromise solutions that have been proposed over the last 8 years,
they do not want to be accused of rejecting the peace plan on the
table today. Therefore, they are using every means available - from
state violence to international maneuvers - to try to bring the
Armenians to do the rejecting.

But Armenia is on record: we have agreed to each of the basic
principles in the document that's on the table today. Yet, in order to
give this or any document a chance, Azerbaijan can't think, or pretend
to think, that there is still a military option. There isn't. The
military option is a tried and failed option. Compromise and realism
are the only real options.

The path that Nagorno Karabakh has chosen for itself over these two
decades is irreversible. It succeeded in ensuring its self-defense, it
proceeded to set up self-governance mechanisms, and it controls its
borders and its economy. Formalizing this process is a necessary step
toward stability in our region. Dismissing, as Azerbaijan does, all
that's happened in the last 20 years and petulantly insisting that
things must return to the way they were, is not just unrealistic, but
disingenuous.

Nagorno Karabakh is not a cause. It is a place, an ancient place, a
beautiful garden, with people who have earned the right to live in
peace and without fear. We ask for nothing more. We expect nothing
less.