POLITICAL SIGNALS ON KARABAKH’S INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 161

Marking the seventh anniversary of Karabakh’s proclamation of independence, the unrecognized republic’s leaders dropped any open reference to the goal of unification with Armenia. That goal had repeatedly been proclaimed by Karabakh leaders both before and after 1991 act. More recently, however, the leaders of Karabakh and of Armenia proper have toned down that goal in order to accommodate OSCE principles and to seek a political compromise with Azerbaijan. Anniversary speeches focused on the two more limited goals of securing acceptance of Karabakh’s de facto independence and settling the conflict through direct negotiations with Azerbaijan.

Armenia’s Prime Minister Armen Darbinian and other Yerevan leaders, attending the celebrations in Karabakh, held to the same cautious line. But Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian paid a symbolic visit to the Lachin area, which was seized from Azerbaijan proper and which the Armenian side considers a nonnegotiable gain of war. Kocharian inspected a recently completed stretch of the highway linking Armenia and Karabakh across the Lachin corridor. Kocharian himself was instrumental in seizing that and other Azerbaijani areas as the leader of Karabakh during the war.

The influential Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutiun (ARF), for its part, described Karabakh’s independence as a preliminary stage toward unification with Armenia. The ARF’s statement, moreover, cast the problem of Karabakh within the larger context of the “Armenian Cause”–a term signifying the aspiration to recover territories in Azerbaijan proper (Nakhichevan) and Turkey. The ARF is a major component of the coalition that brought President Robert Kocharian to power in Yerevan this year. Kocharian has introduced in Armenia’s foreign policy the goal of obtaining international recognition of the Ottoman massacres of Armenians during World War I as a “genocide.” That goal is viewed in Turkey and Azerbaijan as a means to achieve the Armenian Cause. (Noyan-Tapan, Snark, Armenpress, September 1 and 2)

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