In an article titled "War or Peace: Time for Reflection," just published in the official newspaper Hayastani Hanrapetutiun/Respublika Armeniia, President Levon Ter-Petrosian warns that Armenia and Karabakh will "set the entire international community against themselves" unless they strive for a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict. According to Ter-Petrosian, "we have no allies on the issue of Karabakh’s independence" from Azerbaijan, as the world supports the principle of territorial integrity of recognized states. Even Russia, "with 20 potential Karabakhs on its hands," cannot afford to back Armenia on this issue; and the Armenian opposition’s hopes for Russian support are not only misplaced but can lead to excessive dependence on Russia, Ter-Petrosian writes. According to him, the real issue at stake is "not keeping or losing Karabakh, but maintaining Karabakh’s Armenian character" as an autonomous part of Azerbaijan.
Warning against unrealistic goals, Ter-Petrosian cites the traumatic events earlier in this century: the "loss of western Armenia after the bloodshed in Istanbul" and the "loss of half of eastern Armenia after we demanded territories under the Sevres Treaty." The regional balance of forces will shift against Armenia in the next few years, he continues; and the existing stalemate precludes successful economic development of both Armenia and Karabakh. Accordingly, he concludes, the time to settle the conflict is now, through a political compromise acceptable to all parties. (Respublika Armeniia, November 1) The article is certain to increase the internal political risks assumed by Ter-Petrosian with his surprise September 26 statement favoring compromise over Karabakh and his acceptance of the OSCE mediators’ stage-by-stage approach to a political settlement. Ter-Petrosian’s recent stance is being strongly challenged not only by the opposition but also by top government officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert.
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