Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 216

Karabakh’s prime minister, Leonard Petrosian, made public yesterday Stepanakert’s own plan for a step-by-step settlement of the Karabakh conflict. The plan lays out negotiating stages in the following order: definition of Karabakh’s political status; determination of Karabakh’s borders; withdrawal of Karabakh forces from areas they hold in Azerbaijan proper (outside Karabakh), with the proviso that certain areas are vital to Karabakh’s security (an oblique reference to Lachin at least). Petrosian’s plan defines Karabakh’s goal in the negotiations as qualified independence from Azerbaijan, not unification with Armenia. The plan envisages switching from the existing multilateral negotiating format to direct negotiations between Azerbaijan and Karabakh, to be attended by "all interested parties." Such negotiations on political issues would pave Karabakh’s way toward the desired status of subject of international law. (Noyan-Tapan, November 17)

Karabakh has until now refused the OSCE’s step-by-step approach, chiefly because it would begin with the retrocession of Azeri territories and would postpone the determination of Karabakh’s political status for a later stage. This sequence would prevent Karabakh from using as bargaining chips the six districts it holds in Azerbaijan proper. It would also minimize Azerbaijan’s incentive to negotiate with Karabakh on political and security issues, once Baku has regained the six districts. Karabakh has therefore insisted until now on a "package settlement" that would allow it to trade occupied territories for political status and security. Leonard Petrosian’s new plan — assuming that it is offered seriously — shows that Stepanakert can produce its own "step-by-step" approach, one that would maximize Karabakh’s bargaining advantages.

First Lady Tours Central Asia.