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Articles and Interviews
 

Articles and Interviews

09/17/2008 | Wall Street Journal Publishes NKR Letter
10/09/2007 | Keep Azerbaijan in check — The Washington Times
09/18/2006 | Nagorno-Karabakh: "There is no going back for us"
03/27/2006 | A Conflict Frozen The Washington Post
11/23/2005 | Extending a hand to Martakert — Glendale News-Press
10/17/2005 | The Washington Post publishes NKR Representative's Letter
06/16/2005 | Nagorno-Karabakh Talks Moving in Right Direction — Voice of America
09/25/2004 | Azerbaijanis and Nagorno-Karabakh — The Washington Times
09/07/2004 | Eurasianet.org on Karabakh Currency
05/28/2003 | Resolving Conflict in the Caucasus — The Christian Science Monitor
01/27/2003 | Assessing Azerbaijan — The Washington Post
08/27/2002 | Peace in the Caucasus — Wall Street Journal-Europe
11/23/2001 | The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict — The Washington Post
03/26/1998 | What the Ambassador Said — The Washington Post

 


MEDIA ALERT

Wall Street Journal Publishes NKR Letter

The Wall Street Journal Europe
Published: September 17, 2008

Today, the Wall Street Journal published NKR Representative Vardan Barseghian’s letter to the editor in response to an article on recent events in the South Caucasus and prospects for peace. NKR Representative said in part:

“If last month's tragedy is to become an effective lesson to the international community, we hope to see immediate, focused diplomacy to rein in Azerbaijan's aggressive posturing over Karabakh, condemnation of its officials' hate mongering, and implementation of existing agreements to strengthen the cease-fire. These steps could put our region on the path toward demilitarization and peace.”

The full text of the letter is provided below. You can also view it online at:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122159732094844543.html

* * *

Letter
September 17, 2008

Avoiding More Suffering In the Caucasus

As civilians came under indiscriminate shelling last month in South Ossetia, uneasy memories were rekindled for many of us in the Caucasus who lived through the wars of the early 1990s.

As Thomas De Waal correctly mentions ("Caucasus Burning," editorial features, Aug. 19) if a new war breaks out in Nagorno-Karabakh – read: if Azerbaijan attacks Karabakh – it could result in even greater suffering and regional destabilization than what we have observed in Georgia.

If last month's tragedy is to become an effective lesson to the international community, we hope to see immediate, focused diplomacy to rein in Azerbaijan's aggressive posturing over Karabakh, condemnation of its officials' hate mongering, and implementation of existing agreements to strengthen the cease-fire. These steps could put our region on the path toward demilitarization and peace.

My country has repeatedly asked Azerbaijan to commit to nonuse of force and to implement confidence-building measures along the Line of Contact and, more broadly, between the two publics. Azerbaijan continues to refuse any such steps – even cooperation on fighting natural disasters.

We know that the United States shares our view that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can only be resolved through peaceful means. Any settlement will be effective if it clearly reflects the realities on the ground and is based on the expressed will of the Nagorno-Karabakh people to live in freedom. We hope the United States and the other international mediators will not miss this opportunity.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative
Nagorno Karabakh Republic

Washington rrr

 


Keep Azerbaijan in check

The Washington Times
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Letters to the Editor

Thank you for your coverage of Nagorno-Karabakh ("Breakaway state still struggling for recognition," World, Sept. 30).

Since the 1994 cease-fire agreement with Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) has emerged as a free, democratic and well-governed state with an open economy and constructive engagement with the international community.

U.S. humanitarian assistance has helped NKR restore war-torn homes, drinking-water mains and primary health care facilities. We thank the American people for this ongoing, critical support.

Nevertheless, additional assistance is needed to help complete Karabakh's transition to a free-market economy and also ensure sustained economic development. We hope the United States will again take the lead in opening the way for development aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

As the article shows, there is a welcome sense of normalcy for people of Karabakh who want to live in peace with their neighbors and go about their daily lives.

However, a threat of a new military attack by Azerbaijan cannot be ignored. Azeri leaders buoyed by booming oil revenues do not hide their plans to initiate a new war if NKR continues to insist on its independence.

While NKR has been improving its defense capabilities, my government also has called upon the international community to keep Azerbaijan's war plans in check.

Given the military buildup on both sides of the line of contact, a new war would have disastrous consequences for Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, with possible spillover beyond the region.

Significantly, a formal recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh's independence by the United States would only advance the cause of freedom and democracy. It also would help cool Azerbaijan's revanchist appetites and ensure greater stability in a strategic region.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative
Nagorno Karabakh Republic

Washington rrr

www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/oct/09/letters-to-the-editor-99083327/


Nagorno-Karabakh: "There is no going back for us"

DiplomaticTraffic.com East West Communications
By Thomas Cromwell
Published: September 18, 2006

With the collapse of the Soviet Union the world became aware of the complexity of peoples and nations that made up the diversity of the USSR but that had long been submerged beneath the monolithic façade of communist rule. Especially under Stalin, many ethnic groups had been forced to leave their traditional lands or were incorporated into Soviet states where they didn't belong. One of these was Nagorno Karabakh, which in 1921 Moscow had made part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, even though the majority of the population was Armenian.

On September 2, 1991, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic declared independence, in step with other former Soviet states. (A Soviet law passed in 1990 allowed for Soviet autonomous entities, such as Karabakh, to decide their own future if their 'parent' republic leaves the Soviet Union.) This in effect meant declaring independence from Azerbaijan, and soon a war was underway between Armenia-backed forces in Karabakh and Azerbaijan, whose territory completely surrounded the Soviet-era Karabakh enclave.

With the Karabakh population 73 percent ethnic Armenian at independence, resistance to Azerbaijan was successful, despite the heavy odds against them. By the time a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Armenian forces controlled Karabakh proper (which as an autonomous oblast under the Soviets was just 1,699 square miles) and most of the territory between Armenia and Karabakh.

The modern era conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which began as a peaceful request in 1988, forced some 350,000 Armenians to flee Azerbaijan (including 30,000 from Karabakh), mostly to Armenia, and some 700,000 Azeris to flee Armenia and Karabakh (40,000 from the latter), as well as Karabakh-controlled areas of Azerbaijan. Other refugees or internally displaced persons were relatively small groups of Russians and Kurds. A decade on, the future for most of the displaced persons is still uncertain.

However, in a recent interview with DiplomaticTraffic.com, Nagorno-Karabakh's representative to the United States, Vardan Barseghian, said that although not recognized formally by any government, Karabakh's continued march to secure lasting independence is irreversible. "There is no going back for us," he said. "Just because Stalin gave Karabakh to Azerbaijan does not mean that the international community has to reinforce what Stalin did." He continued: "What [Stalin] did at the beginning of the last century was against the will of our people. And now we are at the beginning of the 21st Century."

So far, negotiations among the key players since the 1994 ceasefire, notably through the OSCE's Minsk Group, have produced a lot of statements and occasional glimmers of hope, but no concrete progress on a lasting political solution.

But, clearly, Karabakh is not waiting for others to decide its future. It has been working to shore up its defenses while steadily improving its economy and the lot of its 145,000 people. Barseghian noted that GDP doubled from 2001 to 2005 (increasing to $114 million from $53 million), and economic growth last year was 14 percent. Investments have been in telecoms, gold mining, diamond polishing, jewelry and agriculture. During Soviet times, Karabakh was the biggest per-capita producer of grapes in the USSR. Karabakh is also known for its Mulberry brandy, called Tti Oghi locally. "It is a beautiful country," Barseghian said, offering prospects for tourism development. Some 4,000 foreigners visited in 2005.

Although Karabakh is still a very poor country in a seemingly precarious political situation, its people are evidently working hard to improve their economy and prospects for the future.

Nevertheless, there are some major obstacles to overcome for economic development. The capital Stepanakert's airport cannot receive large passenger planes, due to a lack of over-flight rights for the Azeri territory they would have to cross for safe landings and take-offs. Hence all international air travelers and freight have to pass through Yerevan, the Armenian capital that is 5-6 hours' drive away. There is a good road connecting Karabakh to Yerevan, but there is still much need for infrastructure development within Karabakh itself.

Asked about possible recognition of their republic, Barseghian said "there are positive tendencies" in that direction. He said "governments recognize the fact that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has been established and functioning as a country, and more and more contacts look like regular government-to-government contacts." However, "the US government tries not to portray these as regular contacts, for obvious reasons."

Nevertheless, "what's interesting is that Washington tracks what's going on in Nagorno-Karabakh, including economic progress and democratization. We have indications through third parties that they are happy with the progress, although they would not say that in public."

Regarding relations with Azerbaijan, he said: "I don't think we have illusions about being able to negotiate with Azerbaijan directly for our independence." So there are two tracks that guide Karabakh's diplomatic efforts. One is to seek an accommodation with Azerbaijan to be able to live peacefully side-by-side, the other is to secure recognition from the international community. "For instance, we have representations in Russia, France, Australia and Lebanon, as well as the US." (These are not accredited diplomatic missions.)

Commenting on the work of the Minsk Group, he noted that, "The main purpose of the Minsk Group is to facilitate negotiations, and not to achieve a pre-determined outcome."

Barseghian said that by fighting for independence, the people of Karabakh had "reaffirmed our right to live on the land of our ancestors in the way that we feel is good for us."  He said, "It was a very heavy price," with several thousand ethnic Armenians killed. In the summer of 1992, Azerbaijan controlled about half of Karabakh, but Karabakh Armenians then organized more formal resistance, including a regular army, and began to be successful. Some 30,000 people, Armenians and Azeries, were ultimately killed in the fighting.

He noted that de facto Azerbaijan has recognized Nagorno-Karabakh's existence by recognizing the line of contact that separates the two sides under the ceasefire. "This is the de facto border between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh."

Since 1997, Azerbaijan has not had direct negotiations with Karabakh. By Baku negotiating with Yerevan, it underlines its position that Karabakh is an issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan. But Barseghian said that he thinks a solution can only be found through direct negotiations.

"I believe the world recognizes that we deserve to be free, and as a minimum we should avoid another disaster. International recognition of Karabakh's independence will discourage another attack by Azerbaijan. The ceasefire has held for 12 years, and we believe this is due to the natural balance of forces." He noted that Azerbaijan's oil revenue has been used in part to strengthen its armed forces, and Karabakh (and Armenia) stress to the US Congress and administration that a military balance should be maintained to prevent a new attack by Azerbaijan.

http://diplomatictraffic.com/highlights_archives.asp?ID=163rrr

 


A Conflict Frozen

The Washington Post
Published: Monday, March 27, 2006; A14

The March 11 op-ed column "Russia's Shadow Empire" touched upon the "frozen conflicts" on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains "frozen" because of Azerbaijan's unwillingness to accept the democratically expressed will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh has never belonged to an independent Azerbaijan. It has the legal, factual and moral prerequisites to pursue its independence.

The authors of the op-ed piece advocated rewarding Azerbaijan for its willingness to cooperate in ending this conflict. Do President Ilham Aliyev's regular threats to launch a new war against Nagorno-Karabakh count as goodwill?

The European Union and the United States should support the aspirations of Nagorno-Karabakh to remain free and discourage Azerbaijan from unleashing a new war. This would signal Azerbaijan that it should embark on more constructive negotiations to bring stability and economic cooperation to Europe's new neighborhood.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative
Nagorno Karabakh Republic

Washington rrr


Extending a hand to Martakert
Internationally broadcast telethon is a Thanksgiving tradition
for its local producers.

Glendale News-Press
By Vince Lovato
Published: November 23, 2005

GLENDALE — Armenia Fund will host its eighth annual 12-hour international telethon today broadcasting from Glendale Studios to benefit the war-ravaged northern region of Nagorno Karabakh Republic known as Martakert.

The telethon, which will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., will reach viewers in Armenia, Europe and the Middle East on 19 different affiliates, said Greg Boyrazianon, Armenia Fund's director of communication.

Locally the telethon can be seen on KSCI Channel 18, he said.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh declared their independence when the Soviet Union dissolved in the 1991, said Vardan Barseghian, Nagorno Karabakh's representative to the United States. But when Azerbaijan tried to block Nagorno Karabakh's attempt to rejoin Armenia, the region broke out in a devastating war.

"The telethon is raising funds for the rebirth of Martakert," said Barseghian, of the forested mountain region. "It does not have others resources of support. The U.S. government does supply some assistance but it's limited to humanitarian projects [and] to $3 million a year. We are thankful to the Americans for this help but we need to go further. That's why telethon is so important for restoration projects."

Barseghian is in Glendale with Nagorno Karabakh's president Arkady Ghoukasian in support of the telethon. The money is earmarked to build schools, a regional hospital and transportation projects, Barseghian said.

The 2004 telethon raised about $11.5 million to build a north-south highway for the area, said Sarkis Kotanjyan, executive director of Armenia Fund.

The highway is near completion and is already helping by facilitating interregional trade, Barseghian said.

To donate, call (800) 888-8897. For more information on the region, go to www.nkrusa.org.

www.glendalenewspress.com/news/story/30769p-44786c.html

 


 

Re: The Washington Post publishes NKR Representative's Letter
To: Media Colleagues
October 17, 2005

Today, The Washington Post published NKR Representative Vardan
Barseghian's letter to the Editor in response to an October 5 news
story entitled, "Independent Candidates Court Anger in
Azerbaijan Campaign". Representative Barseghian's letter is
included below:

The Washington Post
Letters to the Editor
Conflict in the Caucasus

Monday, October 17, 2005; Page A14

While reporting on the parliamentary election campaign in
Azerbaijan, Philip Kennicott misrepresented key facts about the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict [news story, Oct. 5].

In response to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's democratic aspiration
for self-determination, Azerbaijan launched a war against
Nagorno-Karabakh, not Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh was able to take the
war outside its borders, pressuring Azerbaijan into signing the 1994
cease-fire agreement. Nagorno-Karabakh, not Armenia, now controls
some 8 percent, not 16 percent, of Azerbaijani territory. This
buffer zone between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan helps maintain a
relative peace in the region.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative
Nagorno Karabakh Republic

Washington
* * *

 


 

Nagorno-Karabakh Talks Moving in Right Direction, Analysts Say
By Margaret Besheer
Washington
June16, 2005

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan plan to meet Friday in Paris to discuss ways to settle the conflict over the predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. VOA's Margaret Besheer looks at the recent history of the conflict and gets a sense from experts on where this round of talks might go.

In 1988, the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh began their quest for independence. Three years later, they held a referendum and declared their independence from Azerbaijan, although their government is not internationally recognized.

Heavy fighting followed, with Armenian forces supporting the Nagorno-Karabakh army. A Russian-mediated cease-fire ended the worst of the fighting in 1994. Thousands of people had lost their lives in the fighting and some 300,000 Armenians had become refugees, while nearly a million Azeris were expelled from Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and displaced from six occupied districts in Azerbaijan.

Sabine Freizer, the Caucasus project director for the International Crisis Group, spoke to VOA from a noisy street corner in the Azeri city of Ganja. She says the Armenians and Azeris define the conflict differently.

"The Azeris consider that the origins of the conflict are territorial claims that Armenia has on Azerbaijan territory," she said. "While the Armenians consider that the conflict is about national self-determination and the right of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh to express their will for sovereignty."

International efforts to mediate the dispute have been mostly limited to the work of the Minsk Group created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"The Minsk Group is the main and only international organization which is facilitating dialogue at the state level between Armenia and Azerbaijan," Ms. Freizer said. "Currently there are three co-chairs, France, Russia, and the United States."

So far, the Minsk Group has been unsuccessful in proposing a single solution agreeable to both Armenia and Azerbaijan. But as Azerbaijan expert and Jamestown Foundation correspondent Fariz Ismailzade tells VOA from Baku, the two sides are still considering parts of two Minsk Group proposals.

"The Azeris are supporting a so-called step-by-step proposal, which means the territories around the disputed NK province will be liberated," he said. "And the refugees and displaced people, these are the Azerbaijanis, will go back, and then the status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be decided. The Armenians are proposing to solve all the issues at the same time. This is called a package proposal. They want return of refugees and liberation of occupied territories to be done at the same time with the status of disputed Nagorno-Karabakh."

Last month the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met on the sidelines of the Council of Europe summit in Warsaw. Mr. Ismailzade explains why that meeting was important for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"The presidents met and decided, 'yes, we are on the right track, let's continue this negotiation.' So in a way, the presidents gave a new mandate, a new opportunity for the [foreign] ministers to continue the talks," he said.

Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian says he hopes to build on the progress made in Warsaw.

"During the two presidents' meeting in Warsaw, certain progress was made on one of the most critical items," said Vartan Oskanian. "I will meet with my counterpart from Azerbaijan on the 17th [of June]. We will try to build on the progress that the two presidents have made during their meeting in Warsaw."

Absent at the negotiating table Friday will be a direct representative of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Their representative in the United States, Vardan Barseghian, says they still welcome Friday's peace talks.

"Our president says he welcomes this kind of discussion, but to achieve a long-lasting resolution, Nagorno-Karabakh should be present at the negotiating table," Mr. Barseghian said.

Ms. Freizer of the International Crisis Group says the Paris talks are a continuation of a process which has been moving in a positive direction, but she does not expect there to be a major breakthrough at Friday's meeting.

"It seems that there is good will on both sides to talk about very hard issues," she said. "But at this point, it looks like they are still in a negotiation phase where they are still hashing out ideas and trying to come to a consensus on the key ideas."

Mr. Ismailzade of the Jamestown Foundation agrees.

"They will come out of that saying that they have discussed some details, things are in a right direction, they are narrowing down their positions, and they will continue negotiations," he said.

No matter what comes out of the Paris meeting, Mr. Barseghian of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians says their goal will remain unchanged, and that is to have an independent state where their people can live in freedom and choose their own government.

www.voanews.com/english/Nagorno-Karabakh-Talks-Moving-in-Right-Direction.cfm

MARGARET BESHEER
Washington
* * *

 


 

The Washington Times
Letter to the Editor
Azerbaijanis and Nagorno-Karabakh
Saturday, September 25, 2004; Page A12

S. Rob Sobhani again used standard Azerbaijani disinformation to describe the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Experts who followed developments in the region during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union know that the conflict is in essence between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, not Armenia and Azerbaijan. Furthermore, Nagorno-Karabakh forces control only 8 percent of the territory beyond Nagorno-Karabakh's borders, not 20 percent, as Mr. Sobhani claims.

Finally, according to official census data and Azerbaijan's own electoral lists, there are no more than 600,000 refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan. Still a big number, but not the figure of 1 million given by Mr. Sobhani. Mr. Sobhani fails to mention that 350,000 Armenian refugees were expelled from Azerbaijan.

After failing in its military campaign to crush Nagorno-Karabakh's quest for freedom, the Azerbaijani leadership has misrepresented the facts to create an image of a victim country. It is regrettable that third parties uncritically present Azerbaijan's intentional misrepresentations. In this particular case, I wonder if Mr. Sobhani bothered to verify his data at all.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the United States
Washington

* * *

 


 

Eurasianet.org
Elizabeth Owen
September 7, 2004

Tempers Flare over the Issue of Nagorno-Karabakh "Souvenir" Currency

Over the past month and a half, two souvenir currency notes from Nagorno-Karabakh have unleashed a storm of accusations and counter-accusations between Azerbaijani officials and representatives of the Armenian-controlled, self-styled republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

On the surface, the red and green notes, which have no monetary value, seem harmless enough. One diplomat even compared the notes to money used for the board game Monopoly. But for those directly involved in trying to achieve a Karabakh peace settlement — in particular the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan, along with Karabakh Armenian leaders — there is nothing about that is taken lightly about the 1988-94 conflict.

At present, the Karabakh peace talks are deadlocked. Azerbaijan is adamantly opposed to any political arrangement that leaves Karabakh outside its jurisdiction. Armenia, meanwhile, will not accept a settlement that restores any level of Azerbaijani control over the enclave.

For Baku, the two-dram and 10-dram notes represent an attempt by the enclave to burnish its image as an independent entity. "Despite the fact that this is not real money, we cannot accept this and we strongly oppose any attempt at creating this currency," said Fikret Pashayev, economic counselor at the Azerbaijani embassy in Washington, DC. "It could create further tension in the region."

For Armenian leaders in the Karabakh capital of Stepanakert, the bank notes are seen as an attempt to reinforce their republic's right to exist. "Of course, my government is involved in this," said Vardan Barseghian, the US representative of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. "We see this as a promotion for Nagorno-Karabakh."

The bills are meant not only to reinforce a sense of national identity, said Barseghian, but, also, to encourage outside investors and even tourists to venture into the remote, mountainous region. Among the attractions touted for potential visitors are the 13th century Gandzasar Monastery, once a residence of the head of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church.

Still, for a publicity campaign, details have been scarce. Posing as currency collectors, correspondents from the Baku-based daily newspaper Echo found out that the notes had been printed by Österreichische Staatsdruckerei, the Austrian State Printing House, a 200-year-old company now in private hands. The order was placed by the Educational Coin Company, a wholesale numismatic firm located in Highland, New York.
Barseghian characterized the print run as "not very large," but could not give an estimate of overall sales. The project, he stressed, "is more of a souvenir type thing."

That fact, however, apparently has yet to register with individuals selling the souvenir currency on the online auction site E-Bay. Prospective buyers have been told that the drams are already in use in Nagorno-Karabakh, described as "a breakaway region in Armenia." In late August, bidding reached a high of $6.50 for a pair of two-dram and 10-dram notes.

Azerbaijani diplomats in Washington raised the matter with the US State Department, Pashayev said, and reportedly received assurances from US officials that the Educational Coin Company could face "very severe punishment" if it continued with its promotion and distribution plans for the Karabakh currency.

Images of the Nagorno-Karabakh currency have been removed from the Educational Coin Company's website. David Laties, the company's secretary-treasurer, declined all comment on his firm's deal with Österreichische Staatsdruckerei. The State Department did not respond to a request for information on its own role in the affair.
"They [the Educational Coin Co.] need to be careful when they get involved in something that has a political side," Pashayev said. "After all, if some Armenian company tried to print money for Texas, no one in the United States would support this, either."

Meanwhile, representatives of Azerbaijan's embassy to Vienna filed a complaint with the Austrian government and met with Reinhart Gausterer, director general of Österreichische Staatsdruckerei, Echo reported. In a telephone interview from Vienna with EurasiaNet, Valentin Inzko, head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry's department for the South Caucasus, stated that Austria has subsequently allayed all of Azerbaijan's concerns.
"Azerbaijan understands that we are not involved in this, and that our position on Nagorno-Karabakh is unchanged," Inzko said. "This is a discussion between two private companies."

The Azerbaijani response to Nagorno-Karabakh's currency venture comes as no surprise, Barseghian stated. "Azerbaijan reacts to everything," he said. "They don't like anything."

"What's the big deal?" he went on to say. "The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has been developing for the last 15 years. Azerbaijan has no influence whatsoever on what¹s going on in Karabakh."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Owen is a freelance writer specializing in political issues in the Caucasus.

Posted September 7, 2004 © Eurasianet
www.eurasianet.org

***

 


 

The Christian Science Monitor
May 28, 2003
Letters

Resolving conflict in the Caucasus

I agree with Brenda Shaffer ("Righting a UN wrong," May 21, Opinion) that the United Nations has failed to "play a constructive role in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict." But the four UN resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh bear no relationship to the current situation on the ground. They tried to deal with some of the consequences of this conflict but ignored the root cause, namely the arbitrary inclusion of Armenian-inhabited Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1921. Those UN resolutions, therefore, do not create a basis for resolution of this conflict.

I share Ms. Shaffer's optimism about prospects for peace, however, provided that we look for the solution in the region rather than within the UN. Azerbaijan should finally agree to start direct talks with Nagorno-Karabakh. They should develop a shared vision for a common future, one based on mutual respect and a strong commitment to peace and democracy. The international community, led by the US, must facilitate and encourage this vision for lasting stability and cooperation in the Caucasus.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Washington

***

 


 

The Washington Post
Monday, January 27, 2003; Page A18
Letter to the Editor


Assessing Azerbaijan

I commend The Post for its honest assessment of the state of democracy in Azerbaijan. President Heydar Aliyev and the dynasty, threatening Nagorno-Karabakh with a new war and the region with greater instability, often use the war as a pretext to strengthen their dictatorial grip on power.

Economic development, energy transportation routes, and peace and stability in the strategic South Caucasus heavily depend on shared values and friendship among neighbors in the region, including de facto immediate neighbors Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Hopefully, with U.S. encouragement, commitment to true democracy and respect for human rights will be our common guideposts along this road.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic
in the United States
Washington

* * *

 


 

Wall Street Journal-Europe
August 27, 2002

Peace in the Caucasus

I welcome The Wall Street Journal's coverage of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict ("One Conflict That Can Be Solved" op-ed column by Brenda Schaffer, July 26, 2002).

Ms. Schaffer is correct in saying that in order to boost economic development and promote regional integration in the Caucasus, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict must be settled. The government of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic remains strongly committed to a peaceful settlement and cooperates closely with the OSCE Minsk Group, the international negotiating forum for resolution of this conflict. Regrettably, while trying to maintain a peace-loving image abroad, the Azerbaijani government is regularly threatening to resume military actions.

Perhaps Ms. Shaffer does not speak or understand the Azeri language, otherwise, she would have noticed the ongoing anti-Armenian propaganda and war-calls that the top leadership of Azerbaijan has been making for domestic consumption in their own language. Azerbaijan should come up with a single vision of peace for both domestic and international audiences. Moreover, it should be ready to implement that vision.

However, Ms. Schaffer offers an important conclusion - that all the "serious issues should be tackled at once" during the negotiations. I cannot agree more - the most serious issue in these negotiations is the future status of Nagorno Karabakh and it should be determined at a very early stage. Only by eliminating the cause (not the consequences!) of the conflict, which is the arbitrary inclusion of Nagorno Karabakh within the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialistic Republic in 1921 by Joseph Stalin, can a solution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict as well as lasting peace and stability in the region be achieved.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the U.S.
Washington

* * *

 


 

The Washington Post
November 23, 2001; Page A42
Section: B

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

In his Nov. 2 news article "Hill Faces Delicate Decisions in Assigning Foreign Aid" and "Foreign Aid Bill Balances Concerns" Dan Morgan also touches upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

An oriental proverb says, you can say "halvah" a 1000 times, yet you are not going to feel the sweet taste in your mouth. Thus, in regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, I think, it is important to put the record straight, rather than say halvah a 1000 times:

Armenia did not occupy Nagorno Karabagh: that is a fact. Another fact is that the people of Nagorno Karabagh did not have any choice other than to defend themselves against the Azerbaijani military aggression of 1991-1994 and have created their own state to ensure the security of the population.

In this regard Mr. Morgan' description is misleading and not helpful in the ongoing efforts to find a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN
Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in the U.S.
Washington, DC

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The Washington Post
March 26, 1998; Page A22
Section: OP/ED

What the Ambassador Said

Ariel Cohen's March 8 Outlook article, "Russia Won't Be Left Out," contains a citation attributed to Armenian Prime Minister and Acting President Robert Kocharian, who allegedly stated that "not a single barrel of Azeri oil will reach the world market."

On March 2, Naira Melkoumian – foreign minister of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington – reaffirmed that Mr. Kocharian never made such a statement. The foreign minister also stated that Nagorno Karabakh not only supports a durable peace in the Caucasus region but also advocates regional cooperation. Regrettably, the government of Azerbaijan refuses to negotiate directly with Nagorno Karabakh and rejected President Clinton's call for mutual compromise.

TEVAN POGHOSYAN
Director
Nagorno Karabakh Republic
Public Affairs Office
Washington


734 15th Street, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005
tel: (202) 481-3341, e-mail: info@nkrusa.org