Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 91

In his current weekly analysis from Yerevan, seasoned local analyst David Petrosian suggests that a resolution by the Armenian parliament has just doomed in advance the upcoming round of negotiations to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. He also suggests that the parliament’s action may have had President Robert Kocharian’s assent.

The negotiating round is scheduled to be held next month in Geneva with the participation of Kocharian, President Haidar Aliev of Azerbaijan and representatives of the OSCE mediating group’s cochairmen countries–the United States, Russia and France. The Geneva negotiations represent the planned follow-up to those recently hosted by the United States in Key West, the results of which are being kept strictly confidential.

On April 27, the parliament of Armenia unanimously adopted a resolution inspired by the ultranationalist party Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutiun, a political ally of Kocharian. The resolution warns against any “hasty” settlement. Specifically, it stipulates conditions to any settlement, including two conditions that depart from those that had formed the basis of discussions until now.

Regarding Karabakh’s political status, the Armenian parliament demands international recognition (“confirmation”) of Karabakh’s independence or, alternatively, its unification (“reunification”) with Armenia. The negotiations until now, however, had sought a political status for Karabakh that could at least pro-forma be reconciled with Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

With regard to an overland link between Armenia and Karabakh, the parliament demands “the necessary length of a common border.” The negotiations until now had envisaged a narrow corridor via Lachin, across Azerbaijani territory outside Karabakh proper, to link Armenia proper with Karabakh. A corridor via Lachin was to have been placed under international control, not under that of Armenia or Karabakh. The Armenian parliament’s resolution, however, implies taking more territory from Azerbaijan, and does not mention international control.

Concurrently, deputies of Karabakh’s legislature adopted a resolution requiring the retention of some areas in Azerbaijan proper, beyond Karabakh, which are currently held by Karabakh and Armenian forces. That demand had been made in Karabakh in the past as well; but it now seems for the first time to resonate with Yerevan. The Armenian parliament’s resolution clearly ties Kocharian’s hands in advance of the Geneva negotiations. The onus will be on Kocharian–a former president of Karabakh–to demonstrate that he does not prefer having his leeway restricted in this fashion by his own political allies (David Petrosian, “Don’t Make Things Worse,” Noyan-Tapan Weekly Highlights, no. 117, May 2; Hayots Ashkar, April 27; Snark, May 3; Azg, May 4; see the Monitor, March 7, May 1, 3).