WASHINGTON, DC – Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian expressed “profound disappointment” today at the unreasonable pressure being applied by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which could threaten the viability of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
The concern was expressed in a July 14, 2009, letter to President Obama, where Hachikian noted that the Minsk Group’s “heavy handed” approach to secure unilateral and dangerous concessions by Armenians regarding the Nagorno Karabagh conflict would “imperil the security of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR) and the Armenian people; increase the prospects of renewed Azerbaijani aggression; and undermine the ability of the actual parties to this conflict to reach a truly lasting and durable peace.”
Hachikian went on to argue that the Nagorno Karabagh Republic’s participation in the peace process is fundamental to the success of the endeavor. “As a direct party to this conflict, the primary victim of Azerbaijan’s aggression, and a full stakeholder in the search for regional peace, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic must be a full and equal participant in all aspects of the peace process,” explained Hachikian. Similar concerns were addressed in letters sent to French Ambassador to the U.S. Pierre Vimont and Russian Federation Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The ANCA has also initiated a letter writing campaign to President Obama and the State Department as well as the Embassies of France and Russia in the U.S. encouraging Armenian Americans and human rights activists to express their thoughts to Minsk Group Co-Chair country leaders. Click here to view the ANCA Action Alert.
The effort reflects worldwide Armenian apprehension following a July 10 statement issued by U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nikolas Sarkozy and Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev calling on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “to resolve the few differences remaining between them” based on an updated version of the “Basic Principles” advanced by the co-chairs in the November 2007 Madrid Document. According to a White House fact sheet, those principles include:
— return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control
— an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance
— a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh
— future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will
— the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence; and
— international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation.
Armenian President Serge Sargsyan and Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev are set to meet on Friday July 17th in Moscow.
Concerns about the Nagorno Karabagh peace process and ongoing Armenia-Turkey dialogue based on an undisclosed “roadmap” were presented at a pan-Armenian conference held at the Nagorno Karabagh Republic’s capital, Stepanakert, on July 9-10. Over 120 Armenian leaders from some 25 countries, representing a broad cross-section of the political, academic, religious, business and civil society leadership from Armenia, Nagorno Karabagh, and the Diaspora discussed the ongoing Karabagh negotiations and unanimously adopted a resolution urging Karabagh’s direct participation in the talks and calling for vigilance in the face of pressure to adopt a “hasty solution to the problem and Azerbaijan’s belligerent statements.”
The full text of Hachikian’s letter to President Obama and the resolution from the pan-Armenian conference are provided below.
July 14, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
In the wake of the G8 Summit and on the eve of the planned July 17th meeting in Moscow between President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, I am writing to share with you the profound disappointment of the Armenian American community over the undue and unreasonable pressure being applied in a heavy-handed manner upon Armenia by the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries to force unilateral and dangerous concessions by Armenians regarding the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. These concessions would imperil the security of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR) and the Armenian people; increase the prospects of renewed Azerbaijani aggression; and undermine the ability of the actual parties to this conflict to reach a truly lasting and durable peace.
Mr. President, in 2008, you pledged to work “for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.” Such a settlement is severely hampered by exclusion of the duly elected representatives of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic from the current peace process. As a direct party to this conflict, the primary victim of Azerbaijan’s aggression, and a full stakeholder in the search for regional peace, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic must be a full and equal participant in all aspects of the peace process. Without this participation, a fair and enduring peace is simply not possible.
Furthermore, the so-called Madrid Principles are not in line with the nature of the conflict and its history. They completely ignore the will of the NKR people that they have already legitimately expressed through the referenda of 1991 and 2006.
The concerns of the worldwide Armenian community are outlined in the attached resolution that was unanimously adopted at a pan-Armenian Conference on July 11th in Stepanakert, the capital of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic. This conference brought together Armenian leaders from over 25 countries, representing a broad cross-section of the political, academic, religious, business and civil society leadership from Armenia, Nagorno Karabagh, and the Diaspora. After a detailed two-day review of the Nagorno Karabagh peace process as well as the state of Armenian-Turkish relations, the Conference concluded that both the flawed framework of the current talks and the Basic Principles referred to by the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group’s Co-Chair countries, France, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America, represent a direct threat to Armenia’s and NKR’s viability and hence should not be endorsed by the authorities of Armenia.
Mr. President, we look to your principled leadership to direct our Minsk Group representative to ensure that direct dialogue and the fundamental right to the self-determination of the people of NKR become an integral part of the Nagorno Karabagh peace process to secure a lasting peace in the region.
Kenneth V. Hachikian
Resolution of the Pan-Armenian Conference
held in Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabagh Republic
on July 10-11, 2009
We, the representatives of Armenian communities in 25 countries of the world, having discussed, at a conference organized under the high patronage of the President of NKR, the current issues of utmost importance for the nation and the state, namely the issues of Artsakh and the Armenia-Turkish relations, herewith determine:
1. Armenia and the Armenians are at an important and decisive stage.
The preservation of our identity, the future of the two Armenian states and of our nation depends on the further course and the resolution of the two issues on our agenda.
2. We are determined to protect the interests and the rights of the nation and the state and to secure our independent and dignified place in the family of civilized nations, using all possible and impossible means.
3. We demand confidence, realism and political will from the incumbent and future authorities of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh; in these two critical issues, they should be guided solely and exclusively by the interests of the Armenian nation and the sense of responsibility before generations to come.
4. We realize that all issues related to the foundations of the state and domestic and foreign policy are inter-related and insist on comprehensive and balanced position [on these issues].
5. The Republic of Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora can become an organized power only if we act as parts of the whole, establish a format for exercising our joint will, employ our capacities and prove to our neighbours and centres of power of the world that the Armenian nation shall not tolerate infringement of our legitimate rights.
In view of the above, the conference herewith states in relation to Armenia-Turkey relations:
Armenia and Turkey, as neighbour states, will eventually have to establish normal relations. Armenia’s initiative to start diplomatic relations and open the borders without any preconditions has already been a concession and a demonstration of good will towards Turkey. In more than a year Turkey, however, has not responded commensurately to Armenia’s such unilateral readiness. None of Turkey’s leaders made any public statement on their wish to normalize relations without any preconditions. Turkey continues to establish preconditions, consistently increases her biased role in the Artsakh issue and, in reality, instead of heading for the normalization of relations, successfully misguides the international community by thus removing the Armenian issue from the agenda.
In this context, signing the joint statement of April 22, 2009 was a wrong and a short-sighted move. Present trends are equally and even more dangerous, as the power centres of the world are trying to impose some accelerated solutions of the Artsakh issue and by doing so steer the course of Armenia-Turkey relations in the direction which is beneficial for Turkey [alone]. It is already obvious that Armenia and the Armenians have to deal with a concerted policy of Turkey-Azerbaijan tandem.
In these circumstances, we are confident about the relevance of the below considerations and the importance of pursuing them at a state level.
a) Lifting the blockade and establishing diplomatic relations based on general provisions of international law and without any preconditions should be viewed as a natural entry point for the dialogue between the two states. True friendly relations with Turkey may be established upon the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the restoration of the rights of the Armenian people.
b) Universal recognition and condemnation of the Genocide and, specifically, recognition and condemnation by Turkey is of fundamental significance both in terms of restoring historical justice and in the context of establishing an atmosphere of mutual confidence in the region and prevention of such crimes in the future. This provision of Armenia’s national security concept has de facto ceased to be a guiding principle of Armenia’s foreign policy. Any attempt to turn the fact of the Genocide into a matter of a historical debate is equally inadmissible.
c) Normalizing Armenia-Turkey relations at the expense of Armenia’s sovereignty and viability and the rights of future generations is absolutely inadmissible. The authorities of the Republic of Armenia should not allow Turkey to use the imitation of negotiations for scoring additional political and advocacy points in the international arena.
d) Armenia’s authorities have a duty to revisit and reconsider the course of public interaction initiated one year ago and its negative outcomes, and should reveal to the international community Turkey’s true intentions and discontinue the negotiations.
In relation to the current stage of the Artsakh issue, the conference herewith states that:
The regional status quo is the result of Azerbaijan’s policy aimed at shattering the right of free self-determination of the people of Nagorno Karabagh, unleashing a war and losing it. Not only Artsakh managed to defend her right to life, but it created a democratic state conforming to all international norms; this state grows and develops normally. Today and tomorrow, the dignity, the viability and the future of Armenia and the Armenian nation are contingent on Artsakh’s independence and security. Certain trends in relation to providing a hasty solution to the problem and Azerbaijan’s belligerent statements require that we remain vigilant, keep the issue in the focus of the national discourse and, as appropriate, prevent any possibility of unfair resolution of the conflict.
In view of the above, the conference believes that:
a) The course of the final settlement of the Artsakh issue is that of peaceful negotiations; the distorted format of these negotiations should however change so that the NKR becomes a full-fledged party in the negotiations.
b) The negotiations process should be based on the accomplished fact of the independence of the people of Artsakh and the results of the 1991 independence and the 2006 Constitution referenda. The negotiations should have, as an objective, an immediate recognition of NKR independence and ensuring her security, and should not circumvent the issue of occupied areas of Getashen, Mardakert and Martuni and the rights of hundreds of thousands of Armenians displaced from Azerbaijan.
c) Nagorno Karabagh has never been a part of the independent Azerbaijan; she declared independence in 1991 in the territory which did not belong to Azerbaijan. The demise of the Soviet Union put an end to the Soviet Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction over Artsakh. The commencement of the Artsakh war and its consequences are the responsibility of Azerbaijan alone.
d) While we realize that negotiations imply mutual concessions, we at the same time maintain that mutual concessions, in view of all components of the settlement of the conflict, may only be commensurate, equal, concurrent and within the package solution framework. Otherwise, any weakening of the security belt around the NKR, without restoring its territorial integrity, will increase the likelihood of war and thus threaten the safety of Artsakh’s population.
e) Within this context, the call of the co-chairs for the expedited settlement of the conflict based on the so called Madrid Principles is not in line with the nature of the conflict and its history.
Moreover, it completely ignores the will of the NKR people that they have already so legitimately expressed. The conference believes that adopting any international document without direct participation of the key party to the conflict, i.e. the authorities of the NKR, is condemnable, inadmissible and devoid of any legal power. The conference affirms that the Republic of Armenia is not in a position to replace NKR in resolving this vital issue. The conference further demands that the proposed document be not signed and that urgent measures be taken to return the NKR to the negotiations table as a full-fledged party.
f) Armenia should take all measures to guarantee the security and independence of the NKR and attain an international affirmation of her status. Accordingly, only a document excluding any use of force and signed between the RA, NKR and Azerbaijan under the auspices of the international community may ensure the irreversibility of the peaceful negotiations process.
g) For us, Artsakh is Armenia and shall remain as such. We have already scored a victory by mobilizing the Armenian nation in the war unleashed by Azerbaijan, and there should be no doubt that we shall do the same should anyone decide to use the language of warfare against our nation.
We, the participants of the two-day conference on the Artsakh issue and Armenia-Turkey relations herewith reaffirm our unity and determination in relation to issues of importance for the nation and the state. The independent Republic of Armenia, the free Artsakh, the organized Diaspora and inalienable rights of our nation continue to remain our ultimate values.
July 11, 2009