Karabakh dominates political discussions in Armenia

Review of October 9-15 domestic events.

The past week started with the arrival of Iranian delegation led by parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

PanARMENIAN.Net - The delegation members met with President Serzh Sargsyan, who emphasized that the visit will give a renewed impetus to the friendly relations between the two states. Larijani, in turn, said that Armenia-Iran relations may serve as a solid basis for preservation of regional stability. He also noted the importance of North South expressway construction as a new line of cooperation. Among other joint projects, the parties specifically marked out construction of Iran-Armenia railway, hydropower station on Araks river and an oil pipeline.

During a meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Iranian parliament speaker discussed a wide range of issues, including implementation of joint projects and regional problems. At the guest’s request, Minister Nalbandian briefed on the Karabakh process and praised Iran’s constructive position on the issue.

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The OSCE Minsk Group Field Assessment Mission can be evaluated positively, according to Karen Avagyan, member of the Republican Party of Armenia. “This mission will offer the people of Artsakh a chance to voice their opinion. Besides, the international mediators discussed the possibility of conducting a similar mission in the territories occupied by Azerbaijan,” Avagyan said. Asked to comment on Azerbaijan’s increasing defense budget, he said it’s alarming but will hardly have any impact on Armenia’s position on Karabakh issue. As to internal political situation, Avagyan said there are no contradictions between coalition forces. “The Republican Party of Armenia dominates the Armenian political field,” he said.

The OSCE MG Field Assessment Mission was like the one implemented in 2005, according to historian Alexander Kananyan. “The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs know that most of their projects will never be realized,” he said. “A new generation grew on the liberated territories during the past 15 years and they will never allow to cede an inch of their land,” Kananyan said.

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Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said that the Hague Court's ruling on Kosovo answered a very important question – whether a unilateral secession violates the international law. “The court gave an unequivocal answer – no, it does not,” Mr. Sargsyan told a briefing in Yerevan. “The people of Karabakh were forced to live in Azerbaijan’s composition, but they had not accepted it even during Stalin’s dictation, thus, they have unilaterally self-determined as soon as they had such an opportunity – during the USSR collapse. In response to it, Azerbaijan unleashed a war, in which the Karabakh people won. The difference between Nagorno Karabakh and Kosovo is that the people of Nagorno Karabakh won the war themselves, without NATO’s assistance. Now it is waiting for the international community to recognize its unilaterally declared independence,” President Sargsyan said. He noted that each conflict has its peculiarities and own ways of resolution, however, legal approaches should be common.

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Coordinator of the Armenian National Congress Levon Zurabyan has dwelled on the Armenian leadership’s blunders over the past two years. “First, the incumbent authorities failed to create necessary conditions to overcome the political crisis that emerged as result of March 2008 events. Second, the socio-economic situation in the country is extremely alarming. Third, Armenia’s foreign policy experienced failure with signing the Protocols on normalization of relations with Turkey. Fourth, Azerbaijan continues exerting unrelieved pressure of Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs,” Zurabyan said.

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Baku is still at a loss to understand why superpowers do not force Armenia to make concessions, according to sociologist Aharon Adibekyan. “Besides written laws, there are also unwritten ones international practice adheres to. The land belongs to those who shed their blood on it,” he said. Adibekyan expressed hope that the next parliaments of Armenia and Azerbaijan should be more pragmatic to enable compromise in Karabakh conflict settlement or secure a long-term status quo. “Foreign investments, currently allocated to Karabakh economy, prove that the investors don’t foresee the surrender of territories. Significant increase in investments within 2-3 years will finalize the Karabakh issue. Baku’s revanchist statements are nothing but words. As a young nation, Azerbaijanis chose Karabakh as a means of self-assertion,” the expert pointed out.

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The organizing committee of the Azerbaijan-born Armenians’ congress sent a letter to Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. “The letter says that Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan made numerous attempts to attract the attention of the Armenian authorities and internationals organizations to their problems,” committee member Hranush Kharatyan said. “Unfortunately, we got added evidence that no one is concerned over the issue. So, the refugees decided to resolve their problems themselves,” she said.

No international document contains any information on Azerbaijan’s Armenian refugees, thus sending them into oblivion, according to Roman Gulbandyan, the member of the organizing committee of the congress of Azerbaijan-born Armenians. “Karabakh conflict will not be settled unless the issue of Azerbaijan’s Armenian refugees is resolved. “Azerbaijan’s Armenian refugees believe OSCE MG co-chairs take one-sided attitude to refugees’ issue. We believe this happens through Azerbaijan’s pressure,” Gulbandyan noted.

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Yerevan hosted a discussion on the problems of inter-party democracy in Armenia. The event brought together representatives of the Republican Party of Armenia, Prosperous Armenia, ARF Dashnaktsutyun, Heritage, People's Party of Armenia and Ramkavar-Azatakan party. “Armenian political field has not been established yet,” ARFD parliamentary group secretary Artashes Shahbazyan said. Ramkavar-Azatakan representative Edward Antinyan noted for his part that inter-party democracy will not exist in Armenia unless pluralism of opinions is formed.

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Armenia’s budget should comprise USD 5-6 billion instead of USD 2,5 billion declared, according to the first Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrossian. As he stated during a rally of the Armenian National Congress (ANC), Armenian authorities have 2 budgets: “the official one, and the one that ends in their pockets”. “Armenian citizens’ salaries should twice exceed the ones they currently receive,” he said. Commenting on the list of the richest people in Armenia published in Russian magazines, Ter-Petrossian noted, “Robert Kocharian and Tigran Sargyan repeatedly initiated legal actions against Armenian magazines. I doubt if they can sue Russian media.” Ter-Petrossian promised to retract his words, should at least one member of the ANC appear in the list of top 100 richest people. “After the change of power in the country, ANC will attempt to fulfill its views without seizing the power. Whatever was stolen from the people will be legally returned to them.” About 1000 people gathered at the rally, followed by the march to Northern Avenue.

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