Armenia’s new foreign minister, Vardan Oskanian, stated yesterday that OSCE proposals for settling the Karabakh conflict are “absolutely unacceptable to Armenia and to Karabakh.” Oskanian specifically rejected the proposed status of autonomy for Karabakh; and he called outright for “eliminating the [OSCE’s] Lisbon principles” from any agreements. Oskanian confirmed the intention, first stated on April 20, to introduce the goal of recognition of the “genocide” as a priority of Armenia’s foreign policy and as one condition for normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations. (Respublika Armeniya, Noyan-Tapan, April 23). The Lisbon principles, adopted at the OSCE’s December 1996 summit, envisage a far-reaching autonomy for Karabakh while preserving Azerbaijani sovereignty at least as a legal form.
In his inaugural statement as foreign minister, Oskanian also rejected the OSCE’s phased approach, which presupposes the withdrawal of Karabakh-Armenian troops from Azerbaijan proper in the first stage of the settlement process; and negotiations on the political status of Karabakh in the second stage. Oskanian called for a package deal instead. These are also the views of newly elected President Robert Kocharian and his political and military supporters. (Noyan-Tapan, April 20 and 21; see The Monitor, April 21, 22 for Oskanian’s profile and the post-election shifts in Armenia’s foreign policy).
TWO OFFICIAL REACTIONS TO ASSESSMENTS OF ARMENIA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.