STEPANAKERT, Karabagh—Concerns about the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process and the ongoing Armenia-Turkey dialogue based on an undisclosed “roadmap” were presented at a pan-Armenian conference from July 9-10 held in Stepanakert, the capital of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR).
Over 120 Armenian leaders and intellectuals from some 25 countries, representing a broad cross-section of the political, academic, religious, business, and civil society leadership from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh), and the diaspora discussed the ongoing Karabagh negotiations and unanimously adopted a resolution urging Karabagh’s direct participation in the talks. They also called for vigilance in the face of pressure to adopt a “hasty solution to the problem and Azerbaijan’s belligerent statements.”
Below is the full text of the adopted resolution.
We, the representatives of Armenian communities in 25 countries of the world, having discussed, at a conference organized under the high patronage of the President of NKR, the current issues of utmost importance for the nation and the state, namely the issues of Artsakh and the Armenia-Turkish relations, herewith determine:
1. Armenia and the Armenians are at an important and decisive stage. The preservation of our identity, the future of the two Armenian states and of our nation depends on the further course and resolution of the two issues on our agenda.
2. We are determined to protect the interests and the rights of the nation and the state, and to secure our independent and dignified place in the family of civilized nations, using all possible and impossible means.
3. We demand confidence, realism, and political will from the incumbent and future authorities of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh; in these two critical issues, they should be guided solely and exclusively by the interests of the Armenian nation and the sense of responsibility before generations to come.
4. We realize that all issues related to the foundations of the state and domestic and foreign policy are inter-related and insist on comprehensive and balanced position [on these issues].
5. The Republic of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Armenian Diaspora can become an organized power only if we act as parts of the whole, establish a format for exercising our joint will, employ our capacities, and prove to our neighbors and the centers of power in the world that the Armenian nation shall not tolerate an infringement on our legitimate rights.
In view of the above, the conference herewith states in relation to Armenia-Turkey relations:
Armenia and Turkey, as neighbor states, will eventually have to establish normal relations. Armenia’s initiative to start diplomatic relations and open the borders without any preconditions has already been a concession and a demonstration of good will towards Turkey. In more than a year Turkey, however, has not responded commensurately to Armenia’s unilateral readiness. None of Turkey’s leaders made any public statement on their wish to normalize relations without any preconditions. Turkey continues to establish preconditions, consistently increases her biased role in the Artsakh issue and, in reality, instead of heading for the normalization of relations, successfully misguides the international community by removing the Armenian issue from the agenda.
In this context, signing the joint statement of April 22, 2009 was a wrong and short-sighted move. Present trends are equally and even more dangerous, as the power centers of the world are trying to impose accelerated solutions on the Artsakh issue and by doing so steer the course of Armenia-Turkey relations in the direction that is beneficial for Turkey [alone]. It is already obvious that Armenia and the Armenians have to deal with a concerted policy of Turkey-Azerbaijan tandem.
In these circumstances, we are confident about the relevance of the considerations below and the importance of pursuing them at a state level:
1. The lifting of the blockade and establishment of diplomatic relations based on general provisions of international law and without any preconditions should be viewed as a natural entry point for the dialogue between the two states. True friendly relations with Turkey may be established upon the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the restoration of the rights of the Armenian people.
2. Universal recognition and condemnation of the genocide and, specifically, recognition and condemnation by Turkey is of fundamental significance both in terms of restoring historical justice and in the context of establishing an atmosphere of mutual confidence in the region and prevention of such crimes in the future. This provision of Armenia’s national security concept has de facto ceased to be a guiding principle of Armenia’s foreign policy. Any attempt to turn the fact of the genocide into a matter of a historical debate is equally inadmissible.
3. Normalizing Armenia-Turkey relations at the expense of Armenia’s sovereignty and viability and the rights of future generations is absolutely inadmissible. The authorities of the Republic of Armenia should not allow Turkey to use the imitation of negotiations to score additional political and advocacy points in the international arena.
4. Armenia’s authorities have a duty to revisit and reconsider the course of public interaction initiated one year ago and its negative outcomes, and should reveal to the international community Turkey’s true intentions and discontinue the negotiations.
In relation to the current stage of the Artsakh issue, the conference herewith states that:
The regional status quo is the result of Azerbaijan’s policy aimed at shattering the right to self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabagh, and of unleashing a war and losing it. Not only has Artsakh managed to defend her right to life, but it has created a democratic state conforming to all international norms; this state grows and develops normally. Today and tomorrow, the dignity, the viability, and the future of Armenia and the Armenian nation are contingent on Artsakh’s independence and security. Certain trends in relation to providing a hasty solution to the problem and Azerbaijan’s belligerent statements require that we remain vigilant, keep the issue in the focus of our national discourse and, as appropriate, prevent any possibility of unfair resolution of the conflict.
In view of the above, the conference believes that:
1. The course of the final settlement of the Artsakh issue is that of peaceful negotiations; the distorted format of these negotiations should, however, change so that the NKR becomes a full-fledged party in the negotiations.
2. The negotiations process should be based on the accomplished fact of the independence of the people of Artsakh, and the results of the 1991 independence and the 2006 Constitution referenda. The negotiations should have, as an objective, the immediate recognition of NKR independence and ensuring her security, and should not circumvent the issue of the occupied areas of Getashen, Mardakert, and Martuni, and the rights of hundreds of thousands of Armenians displaced from Azerbaijan.
3. Nagorno-Karabagh has never been a part of the independent Azerbaijan; she declared independence in 1991 in the territory that did not belong to Azerbaijan. The demise of the Soviet Union put an end to Soviet Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction over Artsakh. The commencement of the Artsakh War and its consequences are the responsibility of Azerbaijan alone.
4. While we realize that negotiations imply mutual concessions, we at the same time maintain that mutual concessions, in view of all the components of the settlement of the conflict, may only be commensurate, equal, concurrent, and within the package solution framework. Otherwise, any weakening of the security belt around the NKR, without restoring its territorial integrity, will increase the likelihood of war and thus threaten the safety of Artsakh’s population.
5. Within this context, the call of the [Minsk Group] co-chairs for the expedited settlement of the conflict based on the so-called Madrid Principles is not in line with the nature of the conflict and its history. Moreover, it completely ignores the will of the people of the NKR, which they have already so legitimately expressed. The conference believes that adopting any international document without direct participation of the key party to the conflict (i.e. the authorities of the NKR) is condemnable, inadmissible, and devoid of any legal power. The conference affirms that the Republic of Armenia is not in a position to replace the NKR in resolving this vital issue. The conference further demands that the proposed document not be signed and that urgent measures be taken to return the NKR to the negotiations table as a full-fledged party.
6. Armenia should take all measures to guarantee the security and independence of the NKR and attain international affirmation of her status. Accordingly, only a document excluding any use of force and signed between the Republic of Armenia, the NKR, and Azerbaijan under the auspices of the international community may ensure the irreversibility of the peaceful negotiations process.
7. For us, Artsakh is Armenia and shall remain as such. We have already scored a victory by mobilizing the Armenian nation in the war unleashed by Azerbaijan, and there should be no doubt that we shall do the same should anyone decide to use the language of warfare against our nation.
We, the participants of the two-day conference on the Artsakh issue and Armenia-Turkey relations herewith reaffirm our unity and determination in relation to issues of importance for the nation and the state. The independent Republic of Armenia, the free Artsakh, the organized Armenian Diaspora, and inalienable rights of our nation continue to remain our ultimate values.
July 11, 2009