President Robert Kocharian yesterday reinforced the warning that Armenia and Karabakh reserve the right to merge into a single state if Azerbaijan insists on maintaining legal sovereignty over Karabakh. “There is every legal ground for recognizing the independence of Karabakh and for its unification with Armenia…Events may develop that way,” Kocharian told the press yesterday. He indicated that Yerevan would activate this option if Baku does not accept Karabakh’s de facto independence. Karabakh issued a similar statement yesterday, also citing its historic and legal rights to unite with Armenia. (Noyan-Tapan, June 23)
Kocharian scathingly ruled out a mediation by CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, who held talks in Yerevan and Baku in recent days. Berezovsky “tried to study the Karabakh issue and to understand the positions better,” Kocharian remarked. (Noyan-Tapan, June 23) Berezovsky pleased Baku by strongly endorsing the principles of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders. (Turan, June 22)
Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian had been the first to warn, on June 17, that Armenia reserves the right to recognize and unite with Karabakh (he had not referred to “annexation.”) That warning triggered not only Azerbaijani protests but also a clear disavowal from Armenia’s own ally Russia (see the Monitor, June 22). On June 22, the U.S. State Department publicly criticized Yerevan’s position as both “extremely disturbing” and an “unacceptable threat by one country to annex what is universally recognized as part of another.” (Western agencies, June 22) Kocharian’s statement yesterday responds, in effect, to Washington and Moscow at the same time.
KIRKORIAN LAUNCHES INVESTMENT PROGRAM IN ARMENIA.