Interviewed in yesterday’s issue of the Moscow daily Izvestia, Armenian President-elect Robert Kocharian outlined his main terms for settling the Karabakh conflict.
— No subordination of Karabakh to Azerbaijan
— No enclave existence of Karabakh within Azerbaijan
— Reliable security guarantees to Karabakh
A settlement based on these terms, Kocharian said, may be termed a confederal, federal or "associate" relationship between Azerbaijan and Karabakh. The formal label would ultimately be immaterial, Kocharian observed.
"No enclave" implies permanent Armenian-Karabakh control of the Lachin area as a land link between Armenia and Karabakh. The security guarantees imply a recognized right of Armenia to intervene in defense of Karabakh if necessary. The UN and other international organizations would likely become guarantors of the settlement. Kocharian pointed out that not a single Karabakh Armenian would agree to be governed by Baku, and that no reasonable person could explain why Karabakh should be administered from Baku.
As to process, Kocharian urged direct negotiations between Baku and Yerevan. He himself also offered to negotiate with Azerbaijani President Haidar Aliev, whom he termed "a wise enough man." The assessment presumably stems from a comparison between Aliev’s position and that of his nationalist opponents.
Kocharian’s substantive terms do not differ significantly from those advanced by Armenia up to September 1997, when then President Levon Ter-Petrosian adopted a concessive stand that led to his ouster in February 1998. While in effect revoking Ter-Petrosian’s revised terms, Kocharian does not revert entirely to the earlier demand for outright unification of Armenia and Karabakh. That issue was also essentially absent from Armenia’s recent presidential election campaign. Nevertheless, the 1989 resolutions of the legislatures of Armenian and Karabakh, proclaiming their unification, remain on the books. The resolutions underlay Kocharian’s legal case, as a Karabakh native, to be recognized as eligible for the post of Armenian president.
Regarding relations with Russia and CIS affairs, Kocharian pointed to "fears that Russia does not give up the wish to dominate." Kocharian urged Moscow to avoid taking positions that might be interpreted that way. He also came out "against propagandistic steps designed to show that the [former] Union is being restored." "Even if someone needs to show that, I am against such relationships" — an allusion to the Russia-Belarus Union. Kocharian opposes Armenia’s accession to that Union, even though some of his allies in the recent presidential campaign advocate it.
Outlining his economic program, Kocharian combined promises of "open, liberal [economic and trade] policies" with a commitment to develop metallurgical and electronics industries in Armenia, and even transform the country into an "energy exporter." These contradictory remarks suggest that the president-elect seeks to cater to different constituencies simultaneously. He also seems to harbor certain autarkic inclinations, derived from his experience as wartime leader of a besieged enclave and prime minister of a semi-blockaded country. (Izvestia, cited by Russian agencies, April 8)
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