Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Opposition leader says "Karabakh Opposed to Phased Peace Deal"

Aram Gaspar Sarkisyan, Opposition Rally, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia

Yesterday, RFE/RL reported that Armenia and Azerbaijan are "close to finalizing a peace deal" over the disputed mainly-Armenian populated territory of Nagorno Karabakh. Today, ArmeniaLiberty reports that a senior opposition figure says that the authorities in Stepanakert are opposed to the idea of a "phased peace deal."
Senior Armenian sources privy to the peace process have told RFE/RL that this formula is at the heart of a peace accord which is likely to be reached by Armenia and Azerbaijan. They said the deal calls for an independence referendum to be held in Karabakh within 10 to 15 years from the liberation of most of the Armenian-occupied lands in Azerbaijan proper and the restoration of economic links between the two neighbors.
A former foreign policy advisor to the Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, Aram Gaspar Sarkisyan says that he has discussed the details of the deal with the leadership of the breakaway and self-declared republic. Sarkisyan, now in opposition to Kocharian, is also reported to have warned that the demographics of Karabakh might change by then.

However, Armen Rustamian, a senior member of the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutiun (ARF-D), is reported to agree with the deal in principle. Dashnaktsutiun is part of the three-party coalition government loyal to Kocharian and appears to hold a surprisingly different view of the proposed peace deal than the opposition in Armenia.
“The main demand of the Armenian side is that the issue of Karabakh’s status be solved in accordance with the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination,” he told RFE/RL. “So we must achieve the realization of that right.”

“But we don’t have the remaining details,” he added. “As they say, the devil is in the details. A few concrete issues must be clarified. For example, the territory on which the referendum is to be held and the electorate that will take part in the vote.
Interestlingly, this seems at odds with the position of the Karabakh wing of the ARF-D. Last month, one of their party activists was reportedly beaten by the Minister of Defense and other high ranking Karabakh military officials after accusing them of cowardice out of their readiness to return territory outside of Karabakh proper in the event of a peace deal.

The full article can be read online here.

According to ArmInfo, the phased peace deal also deals with the issue of the Turkish-Armenian border. In the event of a peace deal, it reports, the border will be opened. Incidentally, as reported by PanArmenian.net, the OSCE Minsk co-chairs charged with the task of mediating between the two sides are due to arrive in Yerevan tomorrow from where they will also visit Stepanakert.

The mediators have already visited Baku.

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