How real is your forecast for resolution of the conflict this year?
I am an optimist and hope that the sides in the conflict will come to an agreement till the end of the current year. It's vital for the Presidents to shoulder the responsibility for resolution of the conflict. Opportunity to settle the dispute has been lost several times. Spinning out time is harmful for all sides, specifically for the people of Nagorno Karabakh. I think that the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia was not wrong to say that Armenia and Azerbaijan could sign a framework agreement this summer.
Don't you think that engagement of Nagorno Karabakh in talks would facilitate the process?
Representatives of Nagorno Karabakh may join talks one day. But now their interests are advocated by Armenia. I hope that Armenia and Azerbaijan will reach an agreement, it's extremely important. I am not aware of the details of presidential and ministerial meetings in Zurich but the fact is positive in itself.
The right of nations to self-determination and the principle of territorial integrity fixed in the Helsinki Final Act form the basis for conflict resolution. Is either of the principles preferable?
Both principles are equal. Neither dominates the international law. Resolution of the Karabakh conflict should base on this postulate. The sides should strike a compromise. I would like to repeat that the conflict has no military solution. The deplorable outcome of the August war in South Ossetia proved inadmissibility of the use of force. A peace agreement forms the basis of the fundamental principles. It means that solution should be found with respect for fundamental principles both in Armenia and Azerbaijan, through the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are included in the Eastern Partnership. Can the initiative speed up the conflict resolution?
Resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict will be significant for the entire region. It will be a start of a dialogue between the countries which have chosen the European way of development. Dialogue is the best mechanism to find areas of contact and we should spare no effort to make this dialogue possible.
What do you think about the so-called 'football diplomacy' which helped Armenia and Turkey mark a breakthrough in relations last year?
The thaw between Armenia and Turkey is a good signal. There is progress and I am hopeful that reconciliation is not far away. Of course, there are painful historical issues, which should be acknowledged for further development of relations. The entire world knows what happened during World War I. But both Armenia and Turkey should move forward step by step.
What your opinion on Iran's offer to mediate a peace deal on Karabakh?
Any assistance is helpful. But we should not forget that Iran experiences problems with the international community. I think that is Mohammad Khatami is elected President in summer, the region can expect transformations. Khatami is more balanced than Ahmadinejad. Anyway, the European Union hopes for direct and sincere dialogue with Iran on its nuclear program.